The School of Night comes into sharper focus via flashbacks sandwiched between current-day chapters…Bayard adds twist after satisfying twist to these interlocked tales. Tragic and jolting surprises keep the storylines zigzagging toward resolution. At its heart, The School of Night illuminates a glimpse into legend, assuring readers that this ancient classroom offered a curriculum heavy on secrets.
The Washington Post
Bayard (The Black Tower) shifts smoothly between present-day America and Elizabethan England in this superb intellectual thriller. At the Washington, D.C., funeral of document collector Alonzo Wax, who committed suicide, Bernard Styles, an elderly Englishman and rival collector, approaches Henry Cavendish, an Elizabethan scholar and the executor of Wax's estate, whose academic reputation suffered grievous harm after he authenticated a new Walter Ralegh poem that was later exposed as a hoax. Styles offers Cavendish ,000 to locate a prize Wax had borrowed, a recently discovered Ralegh letter that may prove the existence of the School of Night, a secret debating club whose members included playwright Christopher Marlowe. Murder complicates the search for the letter. The author's persuasive portrayal of undeservedly obscure real-life scientist Thomas Harriot, a member of the school, enhances a plot with intelligence and depth. (Apr.)
“Fascinating…A few codes and cryptograms are all you need to get caught up in an enigmatic mystery like The School of Night.” The New York Times Book Review
“Exhilarating…Bayard adds twist after satisfying twist... At its heart, The School of Night illuminates a glimpse into legend, assuring readers that this ancient classroom offered a curriculum heavy on secrets.” The Washington Post
“Rich and rewarding...Mr. Bayard writes seamless prose and conjures the past with credibility.” The Wall Street Journal
“[A] superb intellectual thriller...The author's persuasive portrayal of undeservedly obscure real-life scientist Thomas Harriot, a member of the school, enhances a plot with intelligence and depth.” Publishers Weekly (starred)
“[A] compelling literary thriller” Library Journal (starred)
“An entertaining intelligent thriller…fast-paced [with] several superb twists.” The Mystery Gazette
“[D]eftly rendered. . . . Bayard (The Black Tower, 2008, etc.) blends luminaries of history, lost treasure, intrigue and a double-twist conclusion into a highly readable concoction.” Kirkus Reviews
“Bayard's latest. . . interweaves the antic comedy of the modern-day caper with the tragic and affecting love story of the past.” Booklist
“Bayard has crafted a deft, immensely engaging, and in the end, surprisingly moving novel” James Williams, popmatters.com
With a healthy slug of history and a dash of romance, Bayard (The Black Tower; Mr. Timothy) introduces us to the world of 16th-century scientist Thomas Harriot, Sir Walter Ralegh (did you know scholars eliminated the i?), and a cadre of intellectuals called The School of Night. Henry Cavendish, a modern-day disgraced Elizabethan scholar, becomes entangled in an emotional and legal imbroglio after the apparent suicide of his friend, noted bibliophile Alonzo Wax. A document purportedly in Wax's possession may be a treasure map drafted by Harriot. Through flashback narratives, we learn more about Elizabethan England, Harriot and confreres, and The School of Night than most history classes ever cover. Cavendish is an unlikely action hero. His failures in academia and romance pervade his existence, but thrust into adventure, he emerges victorious in both arenas. VERDICT This is a compelling literary thriller featuring an actual yet relatively unknown scholar during an intriguing period of history. Unlike some artifact adventures/thrillers, Bayard's story seems plausible as we root for successful outcomes in two time periods. A worthy contribution to this genre. [Library marketing; see Prepub Alert, LJ 11/1/10.]—Laura A.B. Cifelli, Ft. Myers-Lee Cty. P.L., FL
Bayard's novel isn't the first to combine historical characters and long-secret shenanigans, but instead of suggesting Jesus married Mary Magdalene, it puts Shakespeare into a gay love affair.
Henry Cavendish is a disgraced Elizabethan scholar, fooled by a forgery of a poem supposedly written by Walter Raleigh. Henry has retreated to a life of tutoring and odd jobs in Washington, D.C., and reconnected with Alonzo Wax, a college friend and a book collector. The eccentric Wax, the most interesting character, has purloined part of a letter that sheds light on the fabled School of Night, a secret congregation of illustrious Elizabethan-era intellects like Raleigh, Christopher Marlowe and the brilliant but little-known scientist Thomas Harriot. The school delved into theology, philosophy and science, in a manner thought traitorous and blasphemous. Wax apparently commits suicide, but he also reveals his discovery to Cavendish, to Clarissa Dale, a woman Wax met at a lecture who claims psychic visions of Harriot, and to another antique book collector. At Wax's memorial service, Henry is approached by the letter's purported owner, an English antiquities collector named Bernard Styles, and offered a handsome sum to find and return the letter. But then Wax's devoted assistant is murdered and Wax's collection is stolen. Clues lead Henry and Clarissa to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, near where Harriot studied Native Americans during the failed attempt to establish an English colony. There they find Wax in hiding, claiming the letter points to a treasure. Clues then lead the trio to Syon House in England, the ancestral seat of the Earl of Northumberland, where Harriot once lived. Bayard offers multiple twists and turns, murders and kidnappings—and codes. Especially appealing are the deftly rendered flashback chapters in which Thomas Harriot and his love, Margaret Crookenshanks, appear.
Bayard (The Black Tower, 2008, etc.)blends luminaries of history, lost treasure, intrigue and a double-twist conclusion into a highly readable concoction.