Macbeth has featured on the English syllabuses for so many, many years that it’s a safe bet as Hartley’s choice for his first foray into his planned Shakespeare’s Moon sequence. Using key events from the Scottish play as his starting point, he establishes a narrative in which Sam, a student at St. Francis de Sales boarding school, finds himself spending his sleeping hours in medieval Scotland, cast as a figure caught up in the tussles for power. It is during these nightly experiences, brilliantly described, that Sam meets Leana, a girl his age whose past marks her out as different. Leana is able to move forward in time, enabling Hartley to develop an adventure narrative in our own time, based around the historical history of the school itself, whilst holding onto the parallel plot and plunging backwards into the world of Macbeth and Macduff. Shakespeare’s witches are dark presences, and magic haunts the shadows of both worlds.
The Scottish scenes are the most successfully realised and bring a new dimension to events for those who are familiar with Macbeth, making this a fascinating accompaniment to students studying the play. Once events in our world start to come together, once Sam has begun to piece together the various plot elements, the novel rips along and I found myself fully absorbed. Setting the modern narrative in a boarding school is a canny move – like others before him, Hartley makes good use of the absence of parental support – and it promises to offer a neat connection between The Invisible Hand and further novels to come. I suspect that the school itself has more mysteries to be uncovered too.
The time-travelling, drama-jumping concept is an intriguing one – although I’m guessing the students of St Francis de Sales aren’t going to be studying Titus any time soon – and all readers have wished to find themselves transported into a story at some stage. This is a highly imaginative story and I’ll be looking out for the next installment with great interest.
My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for a review copy.
The Invisible Hand is about a boy, Sam, who has just started life at a boarding school and finds himself able to travel back in time to medieval Scotland. There he meets a girl, Leana, who can travel to the future, and the two of them become wrapped up in events in Macbeth, the Shakespeare play, and in the daily life of the school. The book is the first part of a series called Shakespeare’s Moon. Each book is set in the same boarding school but focuses on a different Shakespeare play.
Purchase from Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Invisible-Hand-Shakespeares-Moon-Act-ebook/dp/B01N4R541U
Purchase from Amazon.com https://www.amazon.com/Invisible-Hand-Shakespeares-Moon-Act-ebook/dp/B01N4R541U/
James was born on the Wirral, England, in 1973 on a rainy Thursday. He shares his birthday with Bono, Sid Vicious and two even nastier pieces of work, John Wilkes Booth and Mark David Chapman. His mother was a hairdresser with her own business and his father worked in a local refinery which pours filth into the sky over the Mersey to this day. They married young and James was their first child. He has two younger brothers and a still-expanding family in the area. As an Everton fan he suffered years of Liverpool success throughout the seventies and was thrilled when his father took a job in Singapore and the family moved lock, stock and two smoking barrels to Asia. He spent five fine years growing up in the city state before returning to the rain, storms, comprehensive schools and desolate beauty of the Scottish east coast. Later years took he and his family to baking hot Muscat, in Oman, and a Syria that has since been bombed off the surface of the planet. James studied journalism in London and later travelled through Ireland, France, Germany and India generally having a good time, before finally settling in Madrid, Spain, where he now lives with his wife and two children.
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Good reads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15801088.
James_Hartley Website: http://www.jameshartleybooks.com
Giveaway – Win 5 x Signed copies of The Invisible Hand with special Invisible Hand tactile pens (Open Internationally) * see terms and conditions from giveaway organiser (Rachel’s Random Resources)
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