Ill Met by Moonlight, by Sarah A. Hoyt

ill-met-by-moonlight-by-sarah-a-hoyt coverGenre: Alternate History
Publisher: Ace
Published: 2001
Reviewer Rating: five stars
Book Review by Sarah Guidry

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Enter Will Shakespeare, nineteen years of age. He is not yet possessed of the necessary knowledge to pen great plays. He knows naught of intrigue, deceit, great kings, or great magics. But he does know of love.

And that is where it all starts….

In Ill Met By Moonlight, Sarah A. Hoyt takes the character of a young William Shakespeare, along with what little is known about his life and the plentiful material of his work, and weaves them together in a magical what-might-have-been story. The scene unfolds toward the beginning of Will’s marriage to Nan. When he arrives home one evening after a day of teaching, he finds both Nan and their baby missing. In the baby’s bed, a small log rests, and in Nan’s bed, a twig.

In search of Nan, Will travels through the forest to the village where her family lives. On the way, he encounters a strange sight – a white castle, full of magical creatures, and Nan!

Will begins a magical adventure to return Nan to his home, with both the help and hindrance of elves, the “good people under the hill”.

Full of hidden Shakespearean treasures, both in theme and word, Ill Met by Moonlight is a book that must grace the shelves of any Shakespeare lover. At the same time, it is a unique and compelling fantasy tale, accessible even to those who are unfamiliar with the Bard himself.

Hoyt has managed to construct a fantasy story so completely different from the normal fare, but with enough of the magic and wonder that it does not slip into the side genres many authors find themselves in when attempting to write uniquely.

I would recommend this book to anyone wanting an enjoyable read, regardless of their interest in Shakespeare. Although Hoyt clearly knows her literature, she works it into the story in such a way that it is not cumbersome. At the same time, Ill Met by Moonlight would also make a great tool for teachers who wanted to inspire interest in Shakespeare in their students.

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