Title: The Shakespeare Stealer
Author: Gary Blackwood
ISBN: 0525458638
Pages: 216 Pages
Publisher/Date: Dutton Children’s Books, c1998

“When I was seven years of age, my prospects changed, as some say they do every seven years of a person’s life.” (4)

At seven, the young orphan Widge leaves the orphanage and goes to live with Dr. Timothy Bright. While there, Widge learns the Dr.’s form of shorthand writing in order to take notes of his experiments. At fourteen, Widge is sold to a mysterious cloaked stranger named Falconer and brought to a new master. His new master expects Widge to copy down William Shakespeare’s newest play Hamlet, and bring it to him so his theatre company can make money off the hit play. Unfortunately, complications arise, and Widge is forced to join Shakespeare’s theatre group in order to avoid suspicion. Will he ever be able to finish the task and can he avoid the threat of Falconer’s growing impatience? What will his friends in the company think when they learn of his original plans? If you want a story with some London sword play and back alley chases, read The Shakespeare Stealer by Gary Blackwood.

Readers who liked Elise Broach’s Shakespeare’s Secret could “graduate” to this book, since it is geared towards a slightly older audience. My one complaint about this book is that it didn’t have an afterward explaining what was real and what wasn’t, although I’ll admit this might encourage readers to research their own information and answers. The pacing was good, and the suspense was maintained throughout the novel. There is a sequel which I plan on reading, called Shakespeare’s Scribe.

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