This is the first in a series about Shakespeare. And yes, it's fantasy, so he does encounter the fairy world that he portrays in Midsummer Night's Dream. I'd heard some interesting things about the book, but was a bit concerned that I wouldn't get the "insider" Shakespeare references. I guess all those classes in high school paid off, because I did recognize quite a bit. I don' t know that they're necessary to know.
The story is about the young and newly married Will Shakespeare, who comes home from a day as a petty schoolmaster (who walks two hours each way to work) to find his new wife and baby daughter missing. His mother (his parents live next door) says she saw his wife flirting with some well-dressed young men. Will thinks his wife may have gone through the woods in response to a call from an expectant relative, but when he travels through the woods, he sees a castle. He was born on a Sunday, and is able to see the fairy world that is invisible to most humans. Thus, he was also able to see through the twig/changelings that were to be left in place of his wife and baby.
The fairy king has stolen his wife as a nursemaid -- and future queen -- for his own daughter. However, the king's youngest brother and the rightful heir encounters Will, and decides to entangle him in his own plots. Quicksilver (youngest son of Oberon and Titania) believes that his brother somehow murdered their parents and usurped the throne. Quicksilver also has this habit of turning into a lady; it is in this guise that he pursues Will.
And so it begins.<g>
There is a very strong thread through the story of Will's relationship with his wife. Though Hoyt says that some interpret their relationship in a much more negative way, she sees no evidence to convince her that it was so. Thus, there is a very strong bond between Will and Nan. Though let's just say I think I found his inspiration for The Taming of the Shrew. <g>
There's even a young lady at the fairy court who pines after Quicksilver; the latter has already met -- and influenced the life of -- another young human named Kit Marlowe, and does exhibit some mild concern as to what affect he might have on young Will.
Most definitely recommended, and I'm looking forward to the next book (which I have <g>) and the short story I discovered.--Lori (18 Nov 02)