Book Cover
Title Ill Met by Moonlight
Series ---
Author Sarah A. Hoyt
Cover Art Anthony Frederick Augustus Sandys
Publisher Ace Books - 2001
First Printing Ace Books - 2001
Category Alternate History
Warnings None

Main Characters

William Shakespeare, Nan Shakespeare, Quicksilver

Main Elements Elves, Fairies

A world not of this world but in it - where a transparent palace hangs suspended in mid-air and tiny fairies twinkle here and there...where a traitorous king holds court before elven lords and ladies...and where fantastical tragedies and capricious romances reach out to entangle mortal souls...

William Shakespeare

When his wife and newborn daughter disappear, young Will Shakespear is drawn into a realm beyond imagination - and beyond reality. Held captive by the devious ruler of the elves and fairies, Shakespeare's family appears lost to him forever. But an alluring elf named Quicksilver takes a fancy to Shakespeare - and sees a chance to set things right. Can a mere school-teacher win his wife back from a king? Or will Shakespeare fall prey to his own desires - and the cunning schemes of the unpredictable elf?

With magical twists and turns, Ill Met by Moonlight is a brilliant and enchanting debut novel of a love who sets young Shakespeare's heart ablaze - and arouses the greatness within him...

I saw this book on sale for $2, so I thought to myself that I couldn't go wrong at a price like that. And I was right, the book was actually pretty good. It didn't have the lyrical prose I thought I might encounter given the topic of the book, but the speculations were quite interesting.

What if Shakespeare wrote about fairies and elves and other fey folk because he actually encountered them? The story takes place when young William was only 19 years old, married to his older wife Nan for only about a year, with a newborn daughter Susannah. The historical notes at the end of the novel point out that no one really knows what Shakespeare did during these years. Hoyt makes him a school teacher, though he could have been any number of things. And although the author admits to playing around with geography to suit her plot, she tried to make everything as accurate and feasible given the famous nature of her main character. Of course, at the time he wasn't famous at all.

And I found it to be feasible enough. Even as we follow the exploits of Quicksilver, a gender-morphing elf prince, or we encounter the Hunter and his hell hounds searching for their supernatural prey. I did find that the elves were a little too human really. The author didn't really create a sense of otherness surrounding them. The entire atmosphere lacked a little of the fairy tale that would have been appropriate. Hoyt also kind of overdid the "love conquers all" theme, but this is her first novel, so I'll let her get away with it. After all, weren't Shakespeare's plays a little cheesy at times too, especially from our modern point of view?

But once you get past the climax of the story, the wrap up was great. After all, we only need to pick up a history book to find out if William Shakespeare lived happily ever after or not. And the Kit Marlowe bits? I loved those! But you'll have to read the book to find out what I mean.

What fools these mortals be, indeed!

Posted: March 2007


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