NESFA Members' Reviews

coverAll Night Awake

by Sarah A. Hoyt

A book review by Mark L. Olson

Ace, 2002, $22.95, 321 pp

In Hoyt's previous book, Ill Met by Moonlight,a young William Shakespeare, a would-be poet living in Stratford, gets involved with the hidden Elf kingdom when his wife and baby daughter are stolen by them so his wife can be the wet nurse to a new elfish princess. Will has an affair with an elf and ultimately wins back his wife and daughter and aids in the settlement of a succession crisis in the elf kingdom.

But Will is touched by magic and a few years later heads to London to be a poet. He's not a very good poet, though. All the elfs have given him is a yearning for poetry, not the talent.

Trouble follows him, however. The loser in the succession crisis fights back and starts to draw power by killing people in London. Will is drawn into the affairs of the elfs again and, it turns out, so is Kit Marlowe, a very successful playwright and sometimes secret agent for powerful figures in the Elizabethan government.

He sees Will as someone he can use in his own secret affairs, setting him up as the fall-guy in a political game he is being forced to play.

The story was enjoyable, but I was constantly bothered by one thing: Like in the wonderful movie Shakespeare in Love, throughout the story Will and other people continually run into the originals or inspirations for various characters and situations and lines in Shakespeare's plays. I have no real problem with this as long as it is Shakespeare who is hearing the phrases and seeing the people, but many times it is other characters like Marlowe. So if Shakespeare doesn't see the inspiration, how is it supposed to inspire him?

Hoyt does make effective use of Shakespearean dialog and characters in All Night Awake.

I was also troubled by the climax which has Marlowe lure Shakespeare and others to a deserted house intending to make it look like a conspiracy which Marlowe has uncovered. But why did the 60-year-old Queen Elizabeth show up on her own? That is totally unhistorical and really unnecessary.

Still, it was a good fantasy which wasn't of the normal dragons-and-elfs sort.

See my other reviews of Sarah A. Hoyt's books: Ill Met by Moonlight, All Night Awake

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