“Th’art a true actor, sprite.” Starring Nat Field, King of Shadows is written by Susan Cooper. Yes, maybe it is another book about acting, but look deeper. Nat’s life is a performance. Singing with joy, flipping with agility, miserable things happening in the most unexpected areas, taking off with emotion that we’ve never, ever met.
Nat’s life is difficult, like many others. Not even difficult, it feels impossible. It seems as if every ten seconds something miserable occurs. Nat’s mom dies from cancer and just when we think, how can things be harder? His dad commits suicide for the great loss of Nat’s mom. Even harder. He cries every time he thinks about his dad or someone mentions something about his parents. The author had Nat go over obstacles that Nat was always clueless about, always making the obstacles at the end. Even though he has his sad life, he has one main talent, a talent that always makes him happy: acting. The Boys Company is Nat’s acting company, with many friends, kind Rachel, his voice coach, and Gil Warmun, who acts with so much emotion that even the audience feels it. Even with his friends, his life is tragic. One day, the day that changes his life forever, he has a dream of a hand pulling him away from the Earth, then pulling him close to the Earth to the next day. The next morning Nat is taken to the past, Shakespeare’s time. Nat’s adventure to 1599 Elizabethan England has begun.
Nat soon meets Shakespeare, astonishingly, and joins the Chamberlain’s Men. He feels as if Shakespeare resembles a father figure. However, though he feels like he belongs, the one person he wants removed from the Chamberlain’s Men is the selfish and cruel Roper, who tries to embarrass Nat every time he has a chance. The drama magically transforms the book, while every single character has a positive impact on the story and each detail only makes it increasingly interesting. Of course, without Roper, the story wouldn’t be engaging. Without even one element, the book would fall apart. All the tiny details are the cement, and the characters, setting, and fascinating plot are the bricks, only able to fit together using the cement. The book needs every single drop of cement, to make it as exotic as it can be.
Although the earlier parts of the book are pretty straight forward, some confusion appears at the end of chapter ten. Shakespeare talks about the Earl of Essex, and some parts of the book are confusing. What clues lead to the fact that Nat says, “so that Essex was about to end up, sooner or later, among those terrible pecked-up skulls stuck up over the London Bridge.” How does he know which Earl of Essex it is? How does he know so much about Elizabethan England? There exists a second Earl of Essex, and a third. Questions usually jumble through my head when I read this part of the book. Many people don’t know much about Elizabethan England, like me. From this book, I have learned quite a lot about Elizabethan England, English Plays, Shakespeare, and much more about plays in general. Despite the comments, this book is wonderful, filled with enchantment, and brimming with love.
Kind-hearted Shakespeare and the curious and talented Nathan Field--it’s the combination of characters that makes the book heartwarming, action-packed, and enjoyable. Finally, I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves books made with love, happiness, drama, and curiosity. This book was written very well; everyone who reads it is sure to fall in love with it.
King of Shadows by Susan Cooper. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2001. Buy the book here and support Stone Soup in the process!