Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Welwyn Wilton Katz - Come Like Shadows

13. Come Like Shadows by Welwyn Wilton Katz (1993)
Length: 289 pages
Genre: Fantasy
Started: 3 April 2017
Finished: 12 April 2017
Where did it come from? From Paperback Swap
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 3 February 2014
Why do I have it? I like fantasy and had read and enjoyed Witchery Hill by this author in the past.

Sixteen-year-old Kincardine O'Neil is absolutely ecstatic when she manages to get a summer job with the prestigious Stratford Theatre of Canada. Although she has a sneaking suspicion that she may not have gotten the job based on her own merits, but because her mother went to high school with Jeneva Strachan - the director of Stratford Theatre's annual Drama Festival. Whatever the truth of the matter, Kinny is determined to do the best that she possibly can in her new position.

However, when Kinny first arrives in Stratford, nothing is as it seems. In fact, things start to go wrong almost immediately. Her position as Jeneva Strachan's assistant seems a little tenuous; her 'boss' is acting very strangely: chilly and standoffish one minute; warm and attentive the next. Kinny is fairly certain that Jeneva just doesn't know what to do with the teenager; or at the very least she definitely doesn't want Kinny around.

The director's attitude towards Kinny soon becomes quite obvious, and begins to spread among the actors. The majority of the company - with one or two exceptions - appears hostile and slightly condescending. While Kinny initially tries to ignore their attitudes - putting their rudeness and pettiness down to their beliefs that she is "only a kid" - she doesn't know how to change the situation.

Instead, she throws herself into the preparations for Stratford Theatre's annual Drama Festival: a complete reimagining of Shakespeare's Macbeth. Kinny knows that actors are intensely superstitious; after all, superstition is an integral part of theatrical culture - she just doesn't believe that some minor wardrobe and prop malfunctions, or even the occasional bad review - will ultimately doom the play. However when one woman dies in a freak accident, Kinny is horrified. Could there possibly be any truth to the rumors; could it be that the play, Macbeth, is actually cursed?

When yet another prop malfunction leaves the production without an appropriate mirror to use, the harried prop designer asks Kinny to try and locate a new one. After instituting an exhaustive search of all the secondhand shops around Stratford, Kinny eventually discovers a plain wooden hand mirror in an out-of-the-way junk shop. According to the shopkeeper, the mirror was originally part of a shipment of antique theatre props, so should be exactly what she needs.

Although there are some slight imperfections with the mirror - most notably an unusual burn mark in its handle - Kinny feels strangely compelled to buy it. Soon, as she begins to spend more time around the mirror, Kinny begins to notice changes happening to herself and several other members of the Stratford Theatre Company. She slowly becomes convinced that the mirror has some sort of mysterious power; a mesmerizing power that seems to come from somewhere deep in the past.

The mirror begins to exert that power over select members of the company - actors have visions of an ancient stone circle and a distressed but regal looking figure. Kinny herself begins to have visions of three peculiar women - women who seem to wield an extraordinary influence over the past and the present. Determined to find out what's happening, Kinny begins to investigate the history of Scotland and tries to discover something more about the true Macbeth.

Yet the closer that Kinny comes to the historic figure of Macbeth, the more she witnesses the power of these three mysterious women. She is left wondering just who these women are, and what sort of power they have over this particular production of Macbeth. And just what do they want from her?

Actually, I had already read another book by Ms. Katz several years before this one. I had also studied Macbeth in high school and was intrigued to discover how the author would use the play in the plot. I read this book for the first time back in 1995 and thoroughly enjoyed reading it back then. While I found the plot to be just as interesting as when I read the book the first time, I would have to give it a B+!

B+! - (85-89%)

May you read well and often

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