Killing Shakespeare


If you could travel to any place and time in history, what would you do? For Isabel, Suresh, and Nathan, three teenagers in Ms Sullivan’s high school English class, the answer is: 1613 when Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre burned down. Nathan intends to ensure that all of Shakespeare’s plays burn down with it, so students will never have to study Shakespeare again. When they land in 1592, losing their time travel device during the journey, they are stranded in Elizabethan London with no return in sight. Now they must grow and adapt to survive, or die. In the process, they reckon with historical figures such as Francis Drake, John Dee, Walter Raleigh, and a young up-and-coming Shakespeare. Filled with intrigue and the volatile history of its time, Killing Shakespeare is a fantasy that examines life, love, literacy, and their importance to us.


“The premise and plot of Koom Kankesan’s Killing Shakespeare are even more audaciously original than the title itself. Finishing the book is like waking from a magical dream. I didn’t know what to expect from a Young Adult novel. I’d heard—but didn’t really believe—that YA novels are as likely to captivate adults as they are young adults. I’m a believer now. Part sci-fi, part historical fiction, part fantasy, part magic realism, Killing Shakespeare is for anyone who likes wonderful books. The three major characters each tell part of the story in unique voices—a feat in itself.

Shakespeare’s England—though I’ve never been there—comes to vibrant and authentic life, the historical detail never seeming to be simply thrown on but working to excite all the senses. Battle scenes, a romantic triangle, the Bard himself as you’re unlikely to have thought of him before, meditations and reflections on time and the origin and nature of consciousness, and even some fanciful comedy—they’re all there … I could say more but the book, literally, speaks for itself. Listen to it—or butt in as it welcomes you to do.”
—Wayne Johnston, author of The Colony of Unrequited Dreams, The Mystery of Right and Wrong, and Jennie’s Boy


Ages 15+

Publication Date: June 2024

Paperback ISBN: 978-1-77415-162-4
Page size: 5.5″ x 8.5″
272 pages

eBook ISBN: 978-1-77415-163-1

Photo of Koom Kankesan

Koom Kankesan is the author of The Panic Button, The Rajapaksa Stories, and The Tamil Dream. His other interests include film and comics, about which he writes in He has interviewed comics practitioners for The Deconstructing Comics Podcast. He lives in Toronto.