This is the second book in the historical fantasy duology Stratford Man dealing with Will Shakespeare and Kit Marlowe, and their careers as magicians and spies for the Queen.

Hell and Earth starts where Ink and Steel ended; Will back on Earth and Kit back in the Seelie Court. They continue to protect both Queen Elizabeth and the Faerie Queen the Mebd from conspiracies. Will has learned that his poetry has magic which can influence people or even the fate of England. He and his compatriots, among them Ben Jonson and Thomas Walsingham, decide to do a new translation of the Bible. Which is, of course, heresy.

After his brief stay in Hell, Kit has been changed; other people’s touch brings him pain. He can still be in his lovers’ company but can’t really touch them anymore. He longs for Will and stays on Earth with him as long as he can. However, the dark Prometheans who tortured him before, have still more plans for him. And so has Lucifer.

The chapters alternate with either Will or Kit as the point-of-view character. Each chapter starts with a short quote from either Shakespeare, when the POV character is Will, or Marlowe, when the POV character is Kit. A few times the POV changes in the middle of a chapter and then a quote also shows the change. I thought this was very elegant.

Again, both Kit and Will go through emotional wringer and physical torture as well. The plot is mostly political intrigue although this time in London. The Faerie Court is seen only briefly.

My only complaint is the lack of female characters which is, of course, totally appropriate for the setting. Both Queens are only seen briefly and they are more the motive for other character than actors themselves. Annie Shakespeare does appear, though.

I love these books to bits! They are full of history and mythology and literature. I really should read Faustus again.

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