Lizzy Speare and The Cursed Tomb by Ally Malinenko is a young teen read that in some aspects is a lot of fun. That’s saying something since, this particular writer, reader, and reviewer, doesn’t particularly like Shakespeare. At all. In fact, my personal opinion is that he’s shoved down our throats so much from middle school, high school, and college, that you just want to find every work he’s ever done and burn it so that no one else will ever be subjected to it again. Once a person is introduced to Shakespeare academically he always seems to come up again. So it’s refreshing to see Shakespeare in a new light, with a modern twist, and a unique way to draw readers in.
“MEET LIZZY SPEARE…
…a normal twelve year old girl with a talent for writing, who has a very not normal family secret. And when Lizzy’s father vanishes, that secret will change her life in ways unimagined. (Spoiler Alert! It turns out that Lizzy, or Elizabeth S. Speare, is the last living descendant of William Shakespeare. Shhh! Don’t tell anybody!)
Then Lizzy and her best friend Sammy are kidnapped, awakening in the faraway land of Manhattan. Their host is Jonathan Muse, whose job is to protect Lizzy from becoming the latest victim in a family feud nearly five hundred years old. Could that be why the mysterious, eye patch-wearing Dmitri Marlowe is after her? (Spoiler Alert 2—he’s the last living descendant of Christopher Marlowe, a friend and rival of Shakespeare’s. But keep it to yourself!) Is Marlowe after Lizzy’s family fortune rumored to be kept in Shakespeare’s tomb? Does he seek artistic immortality? Or Revenge (with a capital R) for a death long, long ago?
In a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse, Lizzy and Sammy are thrust into the realm of the mythical and fantastic—from satyrs and Cyclopses to Middle Eastern cab drivers and Brooklyn hipsters—in what is truly “an improbable fiction” as the Bard himself once wrote”
That being said, while it’s meant for a younger group of readers, in some aspects I think that the author would have done better by showing instead of telling. There’s an overabundance of pronouns in some areas of he did, she did, they did – that could have been revamped into a bit of showing that wouldn’t make it so repetitive. Is a middle school kid likely to pick up on this? Probably not. They may well be too engrossed in the story to notice, and the story is worth picking up – especially if you’re a Shakespeare fan.