IT WAS EMOTIONAL AND SHOCKING AND ONE OF THE BETTER CLIFFHANGERS I´VE EVER READ Carcharodon Books, Australia
VERY ATMOSPHERIC, VERY READABLE AND, IN THE BEST SENSE, EDUCATIONAL Charles Nicholl, author of The Lodger: Shakespeare on Silver Street
Teachers! Get in touch with me and I´ll help you get the best discount for bulk orders for schools. Email me at james@jameshartleybooks
The Invisible Hand is about a boy called 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 focusses on a different Shakespeare play. The books can be read as standalone adventures or used to help middle grade/GCSE students get to grips with the plays, providing a stimulating entrance point to the stories and a new way to look at what can seem a daunting text.
It is stocked at the National and Globe Theatres in London, at Shakespeare & Co in Paris, Christopher´s Books in San Francisco and many other bookshops across the world, including Blackwells and Waterstones in the UK.
The book is recommended for Key Stage 3 and 4 readers in the UK, and is also designed to help GCSE English Literature students “get into” Macbeth and the other Shakespeare plays. Please see the Teachers page on this website or get in touch if you are a school, student or educational institution who might be interested in more information, Book Packs or a visit from my Creative Writing Workshop. I have worked with Box Hill School in the UK and the Teenage Cancer Trust.
Truthfully, I found the plot amazing. I don’t think integrating any Shakespearean play into the story has been done before. It’s a fresh idea. This story reminds of Sam Sotto’s Love and Gravity. It also has time travel but instead of a historical genius, in here it features a classic play by none other than Mr. William Shakespeare. If time permits, I would like to reread this story. I want to fully grasp it and connect with it. I don’t think I was able to appreciate what it was telling me the first time. …I am looking forward to reading the next books. Gurlay Garcia, I Am Not A Bookworm blog
This first in the new series Shakespeare’s Moon looks to be a great way to get younger teens enthralled by Shakespeare as they’ve never been before. The fast-paced first installment The Invisible Hand follows a boy called Sam as he finds his rather monotonous life at boarding school suddenly interspersed with vivid dreams set in medieval Scotland, and he can’t stop thinking about these flashes of colour dragging him from his grey life in England. When Sam’s class start studying Macbeth and a new girl arrives at school who he recognises, he realises that there’s more to his dreams than he thought. The parallels between his dream travels to Scotland and Macbeth are too strong to ignore, and he soon becomes entangled in a gripping plot that not only brings Shakespeare’s play to life but also teach him about his family’s past. The gloomy feel of medieval Scotland and a dreary English boarding school were perfect for reading during December, when the weather where I live was taking a step toward a true wintery cold snap. Seeing Sam go on a personal journey rather than just living out the events of Macbeth really helped to bring this book to life, and I think will certainly engage younger readers. An interview with the author that I read recently mentions his love for stories within stories, and I have to say it shows in this book, with the way that events are retold, and all of the characters have a link back to either Macbeth or some other literary origin. I’m certainly interested to see what the rest of Shakespeare’s Moon will be like, as each one is apparently set in the same boarding school as Sam’s, but based upon different Shakespeare plays. Lucy Russell , Parasol Pirate
Time travel, Scotland and Macbeth? Oooh…yes please!!! I love all three to tiny pieces and was totally interested when I started reading this book. The story takes place at a boarding school in Britain where the main character, Sam, has basically been dumped as his parents are either too busy working or too ill to look after him. One night, Sam awakes to find himself in another person’s body and in the middle of a Scottish battlefield. Is it a dream? Will what happens in the past affect the future? I really liked Sam! The poor thing…I just really wanted to give him a million hugs throughout the story, especially as more was revealed about his family. He was shy, adorable and quite brave considering the circumstances that he constantly found himself in. There’s a scene where he finally makes a connection between his own time traveling and the events in Macbeth that made me smile. He shouts out about how he was there and everyone thought he was absolutely crazy. And why wouldn’t they? But that just endeared him to me even more. Super cute! I am interested in seeing how the author will mix in the other plays. I also just realized there’s a prequel set at the school during World War II called Heart of Winter. Gothic tale about the macabre? OK! Let’s do this… Jacquie Atamanuk, Rattle The Stars
In my opinion, as a classroom text the book would be most suited to Key Stage 3 children (11 to 13). Whilst there are lots of twists and turns that require the ability to follow a complex plot, the language is accessible and there is an old-school charm and innocence to it. The boarding school setting would appeal to those who already enjoy Harry Potter stories. I also think that it could be used as an extension text for Key Stage 4 students to read in their own time and support their understanding of the play.
I really enjoyed how you have captured the sense of place and enjoyed spotting references. You have created an original narrative whilst embedding elements of the play’s narrative throughout. I worried that the two would clash or that, knowing the play as well as I do having taught it so many times, there would be little room for inventiveness with your plot but I am pleased to report that wasn’t the case. There was still room for mystery and ambiguity e.g. Leana as Lady Macbeth’s daughter. I also think that both Sam and Leana are strong characters who would appeal to both boys and girls. Katharine Bryson, Head of English, Box Hill School, Surrey, England.