The Dark Lady by Akala

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Recommended by Siobhan (@siobhan_345)

Form and genre: Prose – historical fiction (but also incorporates some of Shakespeare’s sonnets)

Length: 320 pages


Aimed at young adults and inspired by Shakespeare’s sonnets about the ‘Dark Lady’, Akala’s debut novel follows the life of Henry, a young pickpocket, who also happens to be magic.

Set in the Elizabethan era, the novel addresses themes of race, class and magic. It is thrilling, at times brutal, and always rich with historical detail. A brilliant approach to incorporating Shakespeare into the curriculum.

Age recommendation and challenging content: Some violence – e.g. there is a reference to the death of a child and a stabbing near the beginning. Recommended for Year 9 or above.

Notable reasons for recommending this book: Introduces students to Shakespearean sonnets, plays, vocabulary and context through an alternative means, besides studying one of his plays.

There are a wealth of resources online already from Akala to support teaching Shakespeare to students which would accompany this text well.

Other useful information: Publication has been delayed until April 2021, but it is possible to acquire a sample copy from the publisher in order to plan a scheme of learning. Should be available to order in time for teaching from Sept 2021.