“All art is at once surface and symbol. Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril.” – Oscar Wilde
Perilous? Perhaps. If one reads, though, and doesn’t look beneath the surface sometimes, how does that reader then make those personal connections to a book or the characters? The author writes the words with the intention of telling a story, informing, entertaining, but it’s the reader who then takes those words and dissects them, making that tale their very own. For me, that’s the beauty of storytelling. It’s the reading and looking for even the smallest of details, finding the littlest of things that make me say, “Yes, this just became mine.”
Those simple moments happened several times for me in Hayden Thorne’s Arabesque, a retelling of the fairy tale “Snow White”, beautiful moments of clarity and empathy and understanding that took me on a journey through a kingdom filled with dark magic, evil purpose, and a transcendent love story between Alarick, the bastard prince, and Roald, the man who is betrayed by his father, endures the loss of his memory, and overcomes every obstacle in his path to rescue his prince from the clutches of a twisted and malevolent spirit.
I love fairy tales, which is one of the things that made this book so much fun to read, to see how many familiar tales were woven into the plot, then fractured to fit and shape the moral of the story. This is a tale of denial, of rejection, of betrayal, of free will, and of the infallible nature of love. This is a story of two young men who are torn apart by rejection and prejudice, are kept apart by the interference of an immortal and the malevolent spirit of a hypocrite, who are tested time and again and are nearly defeated, but are saved by the memory of a name and of the bond that connects them.
Romantic and erotic and poetic and provocative and incredibly touching, Arabesque believes that where love is found, there is no sense of wrong; there is no “normal”, there is only what was and is and will be. This is a story that made me truly think about the nature of hatred and prejudice and intolerance. They are things that can be taught, can be ingrained into a person from the age of reasoning, but love, love is something that must be learned and experienced and felt; it can be nurtured, but it can’t be directed and manipulated to suit others’ beliefs. Love is personal, love is private, and love is a force of free will that is so much more than right or wrong. Love is not a force for mere mortals or immortals to dictate. It’s a power all its own, and can work its own magic in the face of adversity.
It’s what all the best fairy tales do: they are dark and daunting and are told with the intent of teaching a lesson to those who hear it, to make an impact, but they then end with the hope that once that lesson is learned, the reward is one of contentment, happiness, and peace until the end of days.