My thanks to NetGalley and Lodestone Books for a review copy of this book.
While not a re-telling, this book is a story that takes us between the modern world and the Scotland of Macbeth. This is the first of a trilogy titled ‘Shakespeare’s Moon’. Sam is a young boy studying in St Francis de Sale, a boarding school in England, as his father is away for work (archaeologist) and mother is ill. But St Francis is not an ordinary school and Sam finds when he falls asleep on certain occasions, he finds himself in very vivid dreams, dreams that are unfolding in old Scotland, where there has just been a war and Sam is in Macbeth’s castle, where the devious plot to kill the King is being hatched. But in this world, Sam is not himself but an entirely different character, a soldier. Here he meets the pretty Leana who has a mysterious past herself, and before long they find that Leana too, can at times come into Sam’s world and have a real existence there. Caught amidst war and treachery in Macbeth’s world and something unseemly in Sam’s school, they must avert the dangers there and defeat those who might even threaten their very lives.
This was a book was such an interesting premise, time travel and Shakespeare, both of which are the reason why I wanted to read this one in the first place, and I was so sure I would really enjoy it. In many ways, it does deliver on both these elements, these is time travel, we find ourselves in Macbeth’s world, where war and danger are ever present, and the witches’ presence is also often felt. In Sam’s world, the modern world too, things are not as innocuous as they initially seem, and magic and the supernatural pervade this world, though more mundane activities like lessons and detention take place alongside. But while these elements are there and the author has woven them together in an interesting way as well, I really didn’t find myself absorbed by this book. The pacing isn’t particularly fast, though there are some exciting moments including on how it would end, but this (the pacing) didn’t bother me. I quite liked the last two chapters—the way they were done and the promise of further adventure that comes through. And I think I also understood the title of the series as I read the book. But I felt it lacked explanation on a lot of points, like what the connect was really between the two worlds, how Leana was part of the modern world when she didn’t seem to have gone back as Sam did, her mysterious past, why she remains the same in both places while Sam changes, why were there these supernatural events taking place in this world (with what object), and such (though some might just emerge as the series continues). And while the book certainly did take us back to Macbeth’s world, I felt there just wasn’t enough of it—from the description, I expected to be more deeply into that story, rather than just going in and out of it at different points, and to be more involved with the main characters. Again, while I didn’t have any specific grouse with any of the characters, at the end of the day, I didn’t find myself getting really interested in them. So this was just an ok read for me, just about two and a half stars.