Skip to Content

Once Upon A Bookshelf

Where Fiction and Reality Meet

Come Like Shadows

Author: Welwyn Wilton Katz
Originally Published: 1993
Author Website

Come Like Shadows

Show his eyes, and grieve his heart;
Come like shadows, so depart!

I first read this book around the time I was first introduced to the Stratford Festival. Since then my love for the Festival has grown greatly, but I haven’t visited this book in years. In fact, I had gotten rid of my own copy and didn’t get a new one until I mooched it off someone a couple of months ago.

Kinny, a high school student from Montreal, has managed to score a summer job at the Stratford Festival, working as the assistant to a director of one of the Festival’s plays. The director, Jeneva, is taking on Shakespeare’s Macbeth, a play known to have bad luck go hand-in-hand with it. But it’s not just bad luck that is causing the deaths of actors involved in this play this time around – two of the witches from the play are not only real, but have appeared in Stratford and are very interested in a mirror that Kinny has found to be used as a prop in the play. This is no ordinary mirror – when Kinny looks into it, she has her wishes granted. When Luke, one of the actors in the play, looks into it he sees one of Macbeth’s (the real Macbeth, that is) memories. And Jeneva sees something, but no one is quite sure what.

It was definitely interesting to read this now that I have such a great love for Shakespeare’s Macbeth – I didn’t know too much Shakespeare when I first read it, so I had a better appreciation for parts of it this time around. I enjoyed Katz’s interpretation of the three witches in the play (some of my favourite characters in all of Shakespeare’s plays), but at the same time it was so different than how I picture them in the play. And I enjoyed being able to picture some of the story that takes place in Stratford (a positively lovely place!) when I read about them.

I wish this book focused a little bit less on the English Canadian vs French Canadian dynamics, and focused a bit more on the play, or the story of the mirror and the three witches… Overall, it seemed rather unnecessary to the rest of the story.

The last chapters of the book left a little to be desired. Some characters seemed inconsistent when it came to the part of the book; at the end, one of the witches looses her powers as a witch and suddenly comes across as a harmless and friendly old woman. Kinny suddenly seems to be on good terms with the witch, who she had been avoiding and disliked for the rest of the book.

I can see why I enjoyed this so much when I was younger… as it is now, if the ending had been slightly different, I would have enjoyed it much more, but found it a somewhat disappointing re-read. This was my eleventh book for the Canadian Book Challenge.

Posted by Courtney Wilson @ 9:25 pm May 25, 2008.
Category: Young Adult
Book Author(s):

  • John Mutford

    Your challenge picks have introduced me to more than a few Canadian authors I’d otherwise not heard of. Thanks for that!

    I’m acting as a murderer in Macbeth this June. It would be interesting to read a book putting it in a Canadian context.