King of Shadows by Susan Cooper is a young-adult time-travel novel. Nat Fields is a grieving boy whose only solace is acting. His young theater troupe...moreKing of Shadows by Susan Cooper is a young-adult time-travel novel. Nat Fields is a grieving boy whose only solace is acting. His young theater troupe travels to London to give a special performance. While there, one morning Nat wakes up to find himself in 1599, an apprentice at the Globe, expected to perform with William Shakespeare himself. Good thing Nat is so very talented.
This novel is infused with a passionate love of Shakespearean plays and Tudorian theater that is hard to dislike. Kind and noble, Shakespeare himself is almost a saint, with every kind of fatherly virtue. There are lots of sensory details for those who like them: the sights, smells, sounds of London present a colorful picture. I liked it well enough, but did not love it. (less)
Heir to Pendarrow is a historical novel for young adults focusing on the adventures of 12-year-old Simon Penryn. His father has just been arrested for...moreHeir to Pendarrow is a historical novel for young adults focusing on the adventures of 12-year-old Simon Penryn. His father has just been arrested for an attempt to kill Queen Mary and place the Princess Elizabeth on the throne. Simon holds information that may clear his father, but his evil uncle stands in his way. Helping Simon are a bunch of colorful, rag-tag actors, a mysterious sailor, and a bitter jester.
The book was written in the sixties and betrays a marked sympathy for the Protestant Reformation. Everyone on Mary's side is evil, and everyone on Elizabeth's side is good. However, the portrait of Queen Mary as a disillusioned and bitter (but not wicked) woman is good. Elizabeth fares more badly. I found a scene where she cries to be very out of character.
Of the characters, there is not much to say. The villains are mean and dishonorable. The colorful sidekicks are wholesomely boring, but Simon's characterization is good and I probably would have loved it at 12. (less)