“This was a sort of different HF read than I am typically used to – one full of comedy and wit and William Shakespeare. I have read historical fiction interpretations of some of Shakespeare’s plays but never read a historical fiction where he is actually a character – and before he was a playwright none the less! This would best be described as a buddy story as the plot’s antics revolve around Will Shakespeare and Kit Marlowe and focus on their relationship in its various forms.
I certainly enjoyed the characters – how they were portrayed, their comedy, and relationships with those around them. As this is a story from the bottom of Elizabethan society looking up we encounter a lot of the “riff-raff” and personages you would not want to meet in a dark alley. I enjoyed seeing this side of things because in a typical Tudor or Elizabethan novel we are usually set within the court itself or with one of the noble families. This was a refreshing change – there were only a couple of characters from the upper class and they were bit parts.
This novel sets out to give us a potential option for what Shakespeare was doing during his “lost years” between Stratford and his London playwright days – in Blixt’s view, he might have been a very terrible and unwilling spy. While I enjoyed this unique plot idea and the vastly ridiculous amount of trouble the main characters find themselves in, I had a problem with it. My problem was that the fact that Shakespeare and Marlowe were the adventurous heroes didn’t seem to make a bit of difference to the story. It really could have been two fictional characters and the story would have come off every bit the same. For me there wasn’t much that made it important that Will and Kit were the duo of this story – I didn’t really “recognize them”.
Overall this was a laugh-a-minute tale that certainly should be read as a breather from the more serious and heavy novels. It will lift your spirits if you are having a bad day.”