Book: Shakespeare’s Spy (2005)
Author: Gary Blackwood
Genre: MG, Historical
Rating: 3 stars
Basic plot: Widge is one of the theatre prentices at the Globe Theatre when young boys played the roles of characters like Juliet and Ophelia. He’s also Shakespeare’s scribe. When Shakespeare has a case of writer’s block, he gives a play to Widge, telling him that he can do with it as he pleases. Widge decides to try to finish the play! But, there are other problems. Good Queen Bess is dying and all theatre is canceled. And to make matters worse, there’s a spy among the players, but Shakespeare doesn’t know who it could be…
1) This is the third book featuring Widge. I haven’t read the second book, but I have read the first book in the series—The Shakespeare Stealer. I’m glad Widge gets a new name in this one!
2) I felt like we were in Elizabethan London! I enjoyed the setting. And I liked the history behind the book… like the death of Queen Elizabeth I. It happened at a time of plague. And then, the theatres are shut down! (Actually, this sounds like 2020, not 1603!)
3) I liked the relationship between Widge and the fatherly Mr. Pope. He’s more of a father to Widge than his real father. My favourite scene with Mr. Pope has to do with the return of Julia!
4) The mystery of the spy in Shakespeare’s troop is set up quite nicely. Although the resolution is a bit too quick for my tastes (see below).
5) Seeing William Shakespeare in action is fun! I like how he relies on Widge. And I like how his “rejected” play comes into the story. Gary Blackwood explains why he wrote these parts in this way in his author’s note at the end.
WHAT’S NOT COOL…
1) Julia shows up at the end of this book. She’s mentioned earlier, but everything about her feels like a backstory being told. It almost felt like she didn’t really belong in this story. And yet, she does. It just felt… awkward.
2) The whole thing about Shakespeare’s spy? It happens close to the end of the story. And it’s WAY too easily solved. It hardly took a chapter! I was disappointed in this part. I wanted at least a little danger of the characters being found out!
3) Why is Judith Shakespeare in this book again? First of all, her name is far too similar to Julia’s name. Secondly, nothing seems to come from her being in the story!
My rating is 3 Stars (out of 5) – I would recommend this book to those interested in Shakespeare or theatre in general. Or for those who like historical fiction. Widge is a sympathetic character. The book doesn’t live up to its name, but it’s still good in its own way.
Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday…