Author: Celia Rees Novel:The Fool's Girl Release date: May 2010 Category: Historical fantasy Publisher: Bloomsbury
Blurb: Violetta and Feste are in London, the year is 1601 and William Shakespeare is enjoying success at the Globe Theatre. But Violetta is not there to admire his plays: she is in England to retrieve her country's greatest treasure, stolen by the evil Malvolio, and she needs help.
In a quest that could mean life or death, can Violetta manage to recover the precious relic and save her country and herself?
Review: To make life easier I'll break this review into two sections: what I liked and what I didn't like.
What I liked: The opening paragraph was definitely my favorite part of the novel. Being a history nerd, I loved the first sentence of "Have you seen a city under sack?". It made me excited to read the rest of the novel just so that I could find out why the city was under sack.
I also liked the the relationship between the Fool and the Fool's Girl, or Feste and Violetta. It took me a while to truly understand what exact type of relationship they had going but when I had pieced the clues together and faced up to the facts I enjoyed their time together. Relationships in a novel are important, they can make or break the novel; but this one is definitely on the plus side.
What I didn't like: First of all, I didn't like the fact that William Shakespeare was a main character in the novel. This idea, I believe, is over done. Cerlia writes, in her Authors Note, that in the past she has avoided using real historical figures up until now but because so much of Shakespeare's life is undocumented this exception still rings true. The problem is, I don't agree. My preconceived ideas about who Shakespeare was influenced my reading of the book and I found I could not believe in Cerlia's interpretation at all. It was like watching the movie interpretation of a much loved book; the actors will never live up to the characters in your head.
The second thing that bugged me was Violetta's love interest. I didn't like him. I spent so much time waiting for someone better to come round that their whole relationship was totally lost on me. I wish he hadn't been in the book at all and that I hadn't spent so much extra energy worrying about him.
Also (!) I thought the storyline was too vague. (Without giving too much away I'll say that) the ending was unrealistic. And the epilogue didn't help at all. Jumping several years into the future, this chapter briefly tells of Violetta's successes in the following years. But the description is so vague that it turns the ending into a big joke and I was left ponding the future years instead of the story outlined in the previous chapters. Like Violetta's love interest, this part should not have been included.
All in all, I'll give this book two out of five stars.