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November 2002
© 2002 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu
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Tyrannosaurus Press
Trade: ISBN
097188191X PubDate May 02
Review by Rob Archer
544 pages List price $19.95  
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All Night Awake, Sarah A. Hoyt

Review by Edward Carmien

When you first open Hoyt’s Elizabethan fantasy thriller the first thing that will strike you is her use of language. Much as Heinlein delights with his futurespeak in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Hoyt amuses with her middle English constructions and vocabulary. In All Night Awake we meet Shakespeare and Marlowe (or meet them again, for readers familiar with Hoyt’s Ill Met by Moonlight), who need no introduction, as well as a purse full of dark clad men of the secret service one would prefer not to meet in a dank London alley. Leavening this historical romp are royal denizens of Fairyland (and darker places).

For a stage Hoyt uses 1690’s London, Fairyland, and a place called Never Land (which is not to be confused with that place Peter Pan lives). Each scene (errrr, “chapter”) is prefaced with a brief narrative of the setting, actors, and perspective one should expect. Fans of Shakespeare will hear echoes of the Bard in Marlowe’s speech, a fact Hoyt apologizes for in her Author’s Note (along with other “sins of omission and comission”).

This novel moves quickly and has a reasonably small cast of central characters. They are supported by a somewhat shadowy and ill defined set of supporting actors; as in a Shakespearean play one must not look too closely at those who speak but one or two lines from scene to scene, as one might recognize the player beneath the paint. The bad guy here is archetypal and absolute.

One must appreciate drama to fully appreciate the pacing and intent of this novel, as in case after case Hoyt models her tale according to the rules of the Elizabethan stage. The drama opens with the expected conflict and moves forward to its conclusion with at a breathless stage pace. Hoyt’s handling of certain concepts might raise some eyebrows, for she uses modern terms that (to this reader) clash with her otherwise well-painted Elizabethan scene. A glove bears a “mind print,” and her characters discuss the merits of “sympathetic magic.” Archetypes are named as such, bringing to mind James Frazer and his The Golden Bough.

For readers who like their Shakespeare (caution: this novel contains many a pun on his name) frothy and their faeries entrancing, this novel is for you. It has a few darker moments which startle (but which are worth every creepy moment). Like a good play it is too soon over, and as the curtain falls one asks “what’s next?” A dream, perchance?

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