The Invisible Hand
Within this novel we meet Sam and Leana who meet in an unusual way. Sam lives his life in one realm in a boarding skill filled with rules, taskmasters and students required to do strenuous activities in academics and sports on a daily basis. But, each time he hazards to fall asleep he winds up in an entirely different time period and realm. With the power to travel to Medieval Scotland the author introduces him not only to the era, the people and the customs but to one of the greatest playwrights ever Shakespeare and my favorite play Macbeth. Leana is his link in the past and yet somehow she is able to transport to the present to his school. The boarding skill is in Britain and Sam has been placed there because his parents not all uncommon are too busy with their lives and working to take care of Sam. Floating in and out of consciousness during his dreams he wakes up as another person in another body in the middle of a battlefield in Scotland. Sam thinks it’s all a dream but is it? Sam is not exactly the most popular kid on the block he is shy, sweet and develops his bravery skills in the earlier realm. Just how does he get involved with the story of Macbeth as he travels back in time and will relive the events of the play. Going back in time causes him some dangerous moments and at times he gets hurt or worse. Imagine going back in time, getting caught up in the battles, dealing with the knights, hearing Leana try to teach you the mores of the times and then finding her in your school in the future. Meet the three witches in Macbeth who are not only in the past but manage to make appearances in the future and interfere with the life of the students in the boarding school. As we hear the instructor give out parts in the play to encourage students to act out Macbeth, Sam seems to divert his attention elsewhere and hoped that he is not singled out for a part. But, since his father is away on a dig and his mother declared mentally ill, when called in by the head mistresses you can feel the tension in Sam rise, his uncomfortable feeling, and although, polite, he cannot wait to be relieved of her company. Sam dislikes the ordinary and mundane lessons and enjoys the excitement of the unknown and danger with the school considered a receptacle or place where things are deposited, stored, or offered for sale. It is the receptacle for an ancient book that can change what is real or reality. Sam is worried and needs to find a way out of the play, away from Macbeth and keeping Leana in his sites and future. Time shifting or time travel is at the heart of this novel and the two time periods will collide. Leana does not understand why Sam knows the outcome of many events, which the three witches are and how they come into play with Macbeth. When getting caught climbing out of a window he winds up hurt, needing care and Leana befriends two people that provide a potion for Sam to restore his health. She recounts her childhood and the life she has left in the past but he relates about his father and mother in the present. Explaining that everything she is telling him is written down she finds it hard to understand that it’s a play when he relates that he can show it to her in print she does not quite believe him. Even the banquet scene that she takes part in the festivities and the banquet learning that Macbeth took ill and what part Lady Macbeth played as well as the reason she had no children and the prime purpose of the three witches. Sam seems enthralled with Leana and at times wonders why she disappears, gets angry with him and then protects him. Sam might be 13 years old but he is astute, smart and thinks like an adult at times making the reader wonder that this is because his parents have left him alone and had to grow up really fast.
Leana recounts events about Macbeth and his problems and a soldier that came for her. But, things spiral out of control for both of them and the reunite by as the author will let you think meet a man named Mr. Chipping who lives in a cottage or does it really exist and relates a story that will cause the reader to keep reading this book at a fast pace to find out the truth behind his words. An old woman named Sybil came to the monastery and demanded to speak with the Abbot. She held three books in her hands and wanted payment for them, which he refused. If he had bought them he would not be allowed to read them until he bought them. The future of the monastery was linked to these books. But, when he refused they watched her burn the first one which became ashes. She repeated this a second time and the same procedure followed until the abbot agreed to purchase the third book for the same price as all three. But, Sybil’s book has magic powers and when the Abbot opened it her learned that the pages were blank. What was the meaning of this you won’t believe? The book did have strange powers and only the few that were chosen could write on these blank pages and their words would come true. “ Not everybody has the power to write in the book and have what they write come true,” explained Mr. Chipping. But, where is the book? He continues and the reader will get caught up in the story once again as he shares who was in charge of the boo and what power the book might hold. But, there was a war going on bombs going off and he makes a valid statement that all authors should understand and realize: “ the personality of an author shines through in the book they are writing whether they like it or not.” This author’s talent and personality does too. So, why do they think that the Queen of Witches is the Head mistress of the school, Mrs. Waters? You the reader will get to know her better and realize that sometimes some is not what they appear to be. When Sam and Leana try and find the book and where they look the end result will separate them in real time and send her back in time and Sam to the hospital and having to deal with Uncle Quentin and whether he belongs in St. Francis. Sam allows himself to deal with his uncle, confides in him about his dreams and realizes that something about the book is linked to a full moon and he uses his computer to access something and would you believe his uncle’s password is….. Can’t tell you that it is security protected but I am sure based on what you have read so far you might figure it out for yourself. Leana winds up back in the past and comes face to face with Lady Macbeth who hallucinates and thinks Leana is her daughter. A powerful scene and a strange ending to it when Macbeth comes in and her Leana’s fate is sealed. When the two time periods merge and the ending is revealed just where is the book? What happens to Sam that causes the school to take action? Where will he wind up and what will happen to Leana and will she be saved? The Eleusinian Room what is the significance and what will he find there if he manages to get into it undetected? Hear his friend Eddie related the information he knows about the book and where it might be and whether what they said about it is true? The ending reveals something will reveal the identity or maybe not of the Queen of the Witches in the past but what about the present? Was he reincarnated? Where will these two wind up and what is the fate of St. Francis? When you read pages 149 and 150 the fire might burn but will it illuminate the truth? The ending might be the beginning and the book lends itself to students in the middle grades and bright students in grades 5 and 6 teaching them that learning about the classics and the master of writing Shakespeare can be not only educational but also fun. Author James Hartley should be commended for creating a great way to get everyone even adults interesting in Shakespeare. Great series can’t wait to read more.
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ magazine