The Playmaker

Janie Cheaney, Author, J. B. Cheaney, Author Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers $15.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-375-80577-6
A strong foundation in Elizabethan politics and religious conflicts will benefit those wading through the murky waters of this cloak-and-dagger mystery set in London in 1597. Young Richard Malory, who has recently lost his mother, seeks his fortune and hopes to find information about his father's disappearance years ago. After suffering some mishaps on the dangerous city streets, Richard secures a position with an acting troupe and works alongside such notable figures as Richard Burbage, Ben Jonson and William Shakespeare. The protagonist gains a sense of purpose and family as an actor's apprentice, but his contentment is undercut by concerns about his father, who may have been a traitor, and by mysterious strangers, who seem to be watching Richard's every move. Containing as many incidences of mistaken identities, treachery and bloodshed as the plays of the period, this first novel approximates the mood of the Elizabethan era, but its atmosphere feels thin when compared to Susan Cooper's recent King of Shadows, set against a similar backdrop. The convoluted plot and tangled relationships among characters may leave readers more befuddled than intrigued. Ages 10-up. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/04/2000
Release date: 09/01/2000
Open Ebook - 174 pages - 978-0-307-55911-1
Paperback - 307 pages - 978-0-440-41710-1
Prebound-Other - 978-0-606-24109-0
Prebound-Glued - 307 pages - 978-1-4176-0123-3
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