Come Like Shadows Reviews

"...masterful story of time travel and mystery. This is a very strong novel by one of Canada's best-known writers for young people."
-- Jack the Bookman, Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada

"Details of behind-the-scene rivalries and crisis in the theatre world are realistic and interesting, and the book moves at a fast pace that makes it a satisfactory page-turner. The inclusion of the supernatural will also appeal to many readers."
-- Winnipeg Free Press

"This story is a fascinating one, woven with spirits, witches, spells and time travel. The reader is held uncertain of the outcome until the very end of the book, and the build-up of tension throughout the book is masterfully handled. It's a wonderful compelling book deserving of attention."
-- The Windsor Star, 15 May, 1993

" intriguing explanation of disasters striking a Stratford, Ontario production of 'the Scottish play.' Along with enough stage lore to delight enthusiasts, Katz sets sharply drawn characters in an intricately and intelligently plotted tale. A literate and satisfying thriller."
-- Kirkus Reviews, 9/15/93

"Katz's fascination with the supernatural combined with her facility with language and ability to spin a good yarn pull the various threads together."
--The Toronto Star, 29 May, 1993

"...this novel is a skilful blend of elements of fantasy and suspense, firmly anchored in the practicalities of mounting a Stratford production. An exciting and original new novel for teens."
-- Hamilton Spectator, May 15, 1993

"Katz has done her research well. Whether she is describing the backstage world of Stratford, or the chilly landscape of Scotland in the past or present, she is always convincing. And within the twists and turns of a superbly constructed plot runs a compelling exploration of the natures of power and of evil."
-- The London Free Press, Feb 27, 1993.

"... masterfully blends time travel, history, Shakespeare and intrigue into a tapestry of factors that weave through her plot like brightly colored threads. For the young fan of mystery, fantasy, or history, Come Like Shadows will delight and satisfy."
-- Calgary Herald, 22 May, 1993

"... mixes mystery, history, classical literature, superstitions and fairytale lore to create an unusual but highly readable book for young adolescents. ...Katz... is a master storyteller, making all these odd pieces fit snugly and the characters ring true."
-- Victoria Times-Colonist, April 11, 1993

"Canadian author Welwyn Wilton Katz has never shied away from fiendishly complex subjects. Her imagination seems limitless. Her latest book, Come Like Shadows is a demanding but ultimately compelling book for young adult readers who love to wrap themselves up in the glorious other-world of fiction. Katz caters to their modern minds, and in the process also manages to make history intriguing. She challenges her audience to follow a complex plot (complete with allusions to Shakespeare), while probing issues of right and wrong, good and evil. In preparation for her new book, Katz spent time watching a production develop at the Grand Theatre in London, Ontario, scouted around backstage at the Stratford and the Shaw festivals, and attended the Edinburgh Festival. This ensures that nothing jars the reader in the contemporary theatrical aspects of Come Like Shadows, where the teen-age heroine is a summer apprentice at Stratford. Other research is equally prodigious as (Katz) delves into details of Scottish history and Shakespearean times, for a plot that deploys characters through a magic mirror from age to age, from theatre to reality, from the Quebec Question to the idea of an ancient independent Scotland to the truth about the historic king, Macbeth. It's one of those books that made me go right back to the beginning when I finished, to remind myself of the outset of the multilayered, complicated, literary journey."
-- The Globe and Mail, July 10, 1993.

"This is a truly remarkable book... The novel is an exciting read and accessible to young adults on its own, but it could equally well serve educators as a vehicle for introducing students to the differences between fiction and fact, about the ways in which 'facts' are interpreted for political or personal purposes, for illustration of how older literature can reveal truths about the present, for discussions of contemporary and non-traditional productions of the classic plays, even for consideration of what is involved in learning to act a role or direct a performance."
-- Canadian Children's Literature, Volume 79, 1995.

"Set against the backdrop of the Shakespearian theatre, Come Like Shadows is an intriguing mystery/fantasy with well developed characters and realistic dialogue. Katz manages to keep readers' interest while educating them to Shakespeare, Scottish history, and even some contemporary political problems in Canada. Even the most avid young adult mystery reader will find solving this mystery a challenge, and the appearance of witches and a magical mirror will satisfy the fantasy reader. A good read, recommended for most public and school libraries."
-- Voice of Youth Advocates, Vol. 16, No. 4, October, 1993

"Well-researched details add authentic texture to the theatre setting. It will be appreciated by drama and Shakespeare enthusiasts."
-- School Library Journal, Vol. 39, No. 12, December, 1993

"The author sets some wonderful mystical scenes, uses imagery well, and does an excellent job of maintaining suspense throughout. Her reiteration of the theme and message of Shakespeare's Macbeth in this modern tale is cleverly and subtly achieved. The characters are well drawn, the plot is tight, and the historic information presented in such a way that the novel would be an effective supplement to units on Shakespeare, theatre, and Canadian or Scottish history."
-- Booklist, Vol. 90, NO. 7, December 1, 1993

"This is a truly remarkable book. Katz's novel examines the many faces of Macbeth over a 900-year period: she presents the historical Scottish king who ruled well for ten years only to be defeated by the English in 1057; she offers reasons (accurate with one exception) for Shakespeare's characterization of him as a murderer and tyrant; she creates two protagonists who are intimately involved in a modern Stratford, Ontario production of Macbeth which reinterprets and stages the play as a commentary on Quebec/English Canada politics. The novel is an exciting read and accessible to young adults on its own, but it could equally well serve educators as a vehicle for introducing students to the differences between fiction and fact, about the ways in which "facts" are interpreted for political or personal purposes, for illustration of how older literature can reveal truths about the present, for discussions of contemporary and non-traditional productions of the classic plays, even for consideration of what is involved in learning to act a role or direct a performance."
-- Canadian Children's Literature, No. 79, 1995

"For sixteen year-old Kinny O'Neil, working at the Stratford Teahtre Festival for the summer is an absolute dream come true. Kinny wants to become a professional actor and this is her chance to get a real taste of acting. She is assisting in the production of Macbeth, a play believed to be so cursed that it is often referred to as 'The Scottish Play'. Kinny landed the summer job with help from her mother, who is friends with the play's director, Jeneva Strachan.
"From the outset, things do not play out as Kinny imagined. She feels young, awkward, and uselss among the theatre company. And it doesn't help that Jeneva is too busy with the play to spend any time showing Kinny the ropes.
"Things go from bad to worse as the actress playing the main witch is killed while rehearsing on stage. Her replacement, Dana Sloe, is mysteriously interested in Kinny and seems to hold some strange power over her. Then more 'accidents' occur with yet another actor violently killed during rehearsals. Bad luck continues to plague the theatre company when they move their production to Scotland. Things are dangerous and frightening. What is going on? Kinny can't figure it out, but she knows it has something to do with the antique mirror, Dana Sloe and the old hunchback lady who conveniently appears whenever the accident occurs.
"Come Like Shadows is a riveting thriller by award-winning author, Welwyn Wilton Katz. Intelligently written and brilliantly plotted, the author combines mystery and the supernatural with history, theatre, and modern-day Canadian politics in a novel that will have teens on the edge of their seats. This difficult-to-put-down book should be prominantly displayed on the shelves of both public and school libraries."
-- Resource Links, Vol. 6, No. 2

"Welwyn Katz is a much-beloved Canadian author. This wonderful example of her work, sadly out of print for several years, has now been reprinted, and has another opportunity to receive the readership and acclaim it deserves. Come Like Shadows has everything a young person's book should have: mystery, drama, a tiny touch of romance, and a huge helping of suspense. While its targeted audience would probably be the 14-to-16 set, I (at 48) enjoyed it immensely. I also learned much about Macbeth (the play and the person), and was fascinated by the detailed insights into the producation and staging of a major play.
"Kinny, a Canadian teen, gets an opportunity to be assistant to the director of a summer production of Shakespeare's Macbeth, to be performed at the prestigious Stratford Theatre Festival. From the start, things go awry, and 'the Scottish Play' lives up to its reputation as a jinxed production. In the very first rehearsal, an actress dies in a mysterious accident. Living up to the dramatic maxim, 'the play must go on', the production continues, but mysterious difficulties continue to plague the cast and crew. A mirror, which Kinny finds at a junk shop, is the perfect prop for the famed witch's scene; but it seems the mirror has some frightening powers, and both Kinny and her friend Lucas are caught up in its spell. In it, Kinny sees the ancient crones of the play; her vision of their actions is both puzzling and terrifying. Lucas, who is hoping to play Macbeth himself, sees the true Macbeth in the mirror, and discovers him to be a fine and honorable man, despite the darker character painted by Shakespeare.
"Mishaps continue during the play rehearsals, foreshadowed by the appearance of an ancient, hunchbacked woman who lurks in the shadows, where only Lucas notices her. After an unexplained fire damages the theater, the troupe goes on a field trip while repairs are being made, traveling by bus through Scotland. Along the way they are joined by aged Mrs. Maugham, stranded by a bus strike, who bears a striking resemblence to the hunchbacked woman Lucas had seen during the mysterious mishaps. They travel on together to Kincardine O'Neil, the small Scottish town for which Kinny was named, only a few kilometers from the stone circle where the real Macbeth reportedly died.
"The climax of this beautifully researched and written tale, which brings together the witches, the true Macbeth, Kinny and Lucas in an agonizing conflict of evil and honor, will leave you gasping. I highly recommend this book."

Teddi Stransky lives on the side of Mauna Loa, the world's most active volcano, and entertains herself by being a proofreader and editor for several book, magazine, and web publishers. She is also a guru at, where she maintains the Book-tips site for readers.Teddi Stransky, Themestream, March 11 2001

Congratulations! If you have managed to get this far, you are very thorough. You might want to check out Perry Nodelman's not so nice review... here.

©All Rights Reserved. Unless otherwise indicated, all website content (except comments by others) copyright Welwyn Wilton Katz. Educators need not purchase a license for use, if already covered by Access Copyright permission.

Return to the Home Page
Professional Reviews of Welwyn's Books

If you wish to order autographed copies of Welwyn's books for children and young adults directly from the author
please click here: Go To Order Page