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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0440417104, Paperback)The Playmaker, by first-time novelist J.B. Cheaney, is a lively historical fiction of Shakespearean proportions. The year is 1597. Young Richard Malory has come to the rough streets of London to seek his missing father, who abandoned the family long ago. But after meeting a series of dead ends, he resigns himself to the fact that his lost father may not wish to be found. In his despair, he is persuaded by the pretty maid Starling to audition for Lord Chamberlain's Men, an acting troupe that numbers among its players Will Shakespeare himself. Richard immerses himself in the stage; never noticing that someone is following his every move along London's twisted streets--someone who knows Richard's mysterious father and of his allegiance to a secret society that has sworn to overthrow the Queen. It will take Richard's fumbling detective work and Starling's quick eye to uncover both a traitor to the throne and the identity of Richard's father.
While the conspiracy plotline will undoubtedly keep teens reading to find out who or what is behind the traitorous plan, it is Cheaney's engaging descriptions of the Elizabethan theatre that flesh out the story and (literally) steal scene after scene. Chaotic costume changes, instantaneous line memorization, and the problems young men have playing young women are all skillfully and humorously drawn. History teachers will enjoy assigning this novel (along with Susan Cooper's King of Shadows) as young Richard meets not only Shakespeare but also his rival, Ben Jonson, and even spies the "white-faced figure" of Queen Elizabeth from afar. The Playmaker is a promising first effort. (Ages 12 and older) --Jennifer Hubert
(retrieved from Amazon Tue, 15 Jan 2013 19:01:25 -0500)
While working as an apprentice in a London theater company in 1597, fourteen-year-old Richard uncovers a mystery involving the disappearance of his father and a traitorous plot to overthow Queen Elizabeth.
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