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About The Book

“A high-stakes, high-drama mystery…led by a plucky, determined hero I would have followed anywhere…[A] romantic, delightful romp!” —Mackenzi Lee, New York Times bestselling author of A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue

A down-on-his-luck actor and an English lord reluctantly team up to solve the murder of Christopher Marlowe in this Shakespearean-era “quippy, heart-wrenching debut…ideal for fans of Mackenzi Lee and F.T. Lukens” (Kirkus Reviews).

London, 1593. Sixteen-year-old Will Hughes is busy working on Shakespeare’s stage, stuffing his corsets with straw and pretending to be someone else. Offstage, he’s playing a part, too. The son of traitors, Will is desperate to keep his identity secret—or risk being killed in the bloody queen’s imperial schemes. All he wants is to lay low until he earns enough coin to return to his family.

But when his mentor, the famous playwright Christopher Marlowe, is murdered under mysterious circumstances, Will’s plans are hopelessly dashed. What’s worse, Marlowe was a spy for the queen, tasked with stalking a killer rumored to be part of an elusive order of assassins, and his secrets and untimely death have put Will under a harsh spotlight. Then, when Will unwittingly foils an attempt on the queen’s life, she names him her next spymaster.

Now, to avoid uncomfortable questions, prison, or an even more terrible fate, Will reluctantly starts his new career, which—yes—will secure him the resources to help his family…but at what cost? Adding insult to injury is the young Lord James Bloomsbury, Will’s new comrade in arms, whose entitled demeanor and unfairly handsome looks get under Will’s skin immediately.

Together, the two hunt the cunning assassin, defend the queen’s life, and pray to keep their own...all while an unexpected connection blossoms between them.

About The Author

Photograph by Loren Cressler

Erin Cotter writes young adult fiction. Originally from Buffalo, New York, she currently calls Austin home. When not writing, she spends time with her partner and pets, eating tacos, and searching for Golden-cheeked Warblers in the Texas Hill Country.

About The Reader

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio (October 10, 2023)
  • Runtime: 12 hours and 29 minutes
  • ISBN13: 9781797167862
  • Grades: 9 and up
  • Ages: 14 - 99

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Raves and Reviews

"Meunier’s narration adds to the novel’s rich atmosphere as he differentiates between upper- and working-class English accents, gives voice to Irish pirates, and delivers every exclamation of “Zounds!” with relish."

– AudioFile Magazine

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