Ill Met by Moonlight

Author: Sarah A. Hoyt
Read by: Jason Carter
Buzzy Multimedia Audio
RRP: $47.95
ISBN-13: 978 0 96572 553 8
ISBN-10: 0 9657255 3 7
Available 01 June 2007

Ever wondered what William Shakespeare's life was like before he was known as the Bard? Before the Queen took notice of him? Before the Globe Theatre? Step back in time and into the Arden Woods about Avon. Find out what transformed the life of a petty schoolmaster into a writer of enduring vision. In an instant this young son of a glover had his life ripped from him by the King of those that live under the hill, the King of Elves. Can this mortal overturn the will and power of the ruler of an immortal realm? He must or face the loss of his love... and his life...

Ill Met by Moonlight is the first book in Sarah A Hoyt's Shakespearean fantasy series (the other two books being All Night Awake and Any Man So Daring). The title is a reference to Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.

The book is a work of fiction that examines the life of a young schoolteacher by the name of Will Shakespeare. Things are not going well in his life, he is struggling to support his wife and baby daughter, and then one day he returns home to discover that they have vanished. His first thoughts are that they have returned to his wife's family, and so he ventures into Arden Forest, to start the journey towards the village where she grew up. On his travels he stumbles across a palace, where no building should be. But this is no ordinary palace. It's the home of dancing lords and ladies of unearthly beauty, and his wife is dancing with them.

Will thinks he is going mad, until Quicksilver, an elf who was tricked out of his inheritance by his brother, Sylvanus, appears and explains to Will that his wife and daughter have been kidnapped by Sylvanus, the evil king of the Elven realm. Quicksilver promises to help Will rescue his captive wife and child, but in return he must agree to help her in a soul-damning plot to kill the fairy king.

Hoyt's story is a breath of fresh air in a publishing industry bulging with Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter literary clones. A pure work of fiction, that only borrows the character of Shakespeare and postulates how he came up with the inspiration for his plays, this story will appeal to both fantasy and Shakespearean fans.

It's odd how the presentation can differ so much between two releases from the same company. Not only is the packaging for this release a hundred-fold better than the poor offering for Buzzy Multimedia Audio's other recent release (Interlopers), but the vocal actor is also much better.

As I moaned in by review of the Interlopers, cardboard packaging and the vocal delivery of Ben Browder made that release a definite no-no. However, Ill Met by Moonlight is another matter altogether.

To start with, this eight disc CD collection comes housed in four double CD jewel cases which are housed in a cardboard slip case. And I can think of no one better than Jason Carter to read this collection.

Carter adds emotion into his delivery - which sounds like he's telling a story, not reading from a script. This is essential in keeping the listener glued to the plot. And once you start to listen to this audio book, you'll find it hard to stop.

A joy from beginning to end. A great reading of an engaging story.

Nick Smithson

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