November 22nd, 2011

andrew potter

Best LGBT Young Adult / Coming of Age: Renfred's Masquerade by Hayden Thorne

Hayden Thorne is blessed with the ability to tell ageless stories; ageless because they are suspended in time, they can be a fantasy or an historical or even a contemporary setting or all of the previous, and ageless because they are fit as much for a young reader than for an adult one.

Renfred’s Masquerade is about Nicola, a boy with a lame leg who believes this is influencing all his life; the only joy he has is when he is able to loose himself “into” his dreams, dreams he feeds with the demons and gargoyles of his father’s clocks. He would like nothing else than to be a clock master like his father, but he is sent to a boarding school to learn a more honourable profession. During his time at the boarding school Nicola realizes two things: that young boys can be mean and that he nevertheless likes boys. When he is 15 years old, his father dies, and Nicola, who was already orphaned of mother, is now all alone in the world. When he learns one of his father’s friend, Signor Renfred, will become his guardian, he is convinced he will become an endured servant.

Signor Renfred is a magician and he lives in an island with only his ailing sister and a series of mechanical dolls in place of servants. The setting reminded me of the Isola Bella on Lago Maggiore, a little island whose grounds are almost all occupied by a beautiful mansion. There are some little houses right outside the main door of the mansion, and even a small plaza, but basically, when you reach the island by boat (the only way to reach it) what you see looming from the water is a very ornate villa and the gardens surrounding it.

Even if Signor Renfred should be the ogre of this story, even before Nicola went living with him, he was always a fatherly figure, someone who was willing to listening to a small child and to his naïve questions about magic. Even now that Nicola is 15 years old, Signor Renfred is still more a father than a tyrant, and to Nicola he probably is a better father than his own. But Signor Renfred doesn’t want for Nicola to belittle his own father, a man he considered a friend, even if they parted ways in disagreement. But when was time for Nicola’s father to find someone to take of his own son, it was Signor Refrend the only he trusted.

More than a love story, even if for Nicola there will be also that, this is the journey of Nicola discovering his own father; Nicola always admired the artist but he had never bonded with the man. Now, even if his father is dead, Nicola has a chance to know the man and to understand that, despite all, his father only wanted the best for him, even if the best was something practical and boring, without magic. Nicola will learn that not always magic is good, and that it can be safer sometime to stop daydreaming and face reality.

Amazon: Renfred's Masquerade
Paperback: 238 pages
Publisher: Queerteen Press (November 15, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1466483903
ISBN-13: 978-1466483903

Reading List: list&view=elisa.rolle

Cover Art by Keary Taylor