“Friendship is just love that has yet to sprout wings and take flight.” ― Kristen Reed
The Twilight Gods and Renfred’s Masquerade are to this day the benchmark by which I measure all Young Adult historical fantasy novels, not that there are so many to choose from, mind, but as far as niches go, Hayden Thorne has this corner of the market all tied up. Lush with imagery, rife with symbolism and ripe with a message of hope in a world where conformity to the rules of society meant hiding behind an illusion, these books take the reader on fantastical journeys of self-discovery for their young protagonists.
And now I have a new novella to add to my fan-list, Benedict, the story of a sixteen-year-old boy, a very special sort of boy living a very special sort of life, a life guided by the threads of expectation and the very literal ties that tether him to his world. He is preparing to attend the king’s ball, a coming-of-age celebration for every sixteen-year-old in the kingdom, rich or poor, boy or girl, where the hope is to find a soulmate with whom to begin building a future. Benedict and his friend Jeremy, a boy who is not in Benedict’s social class but is a friend nonetheless, will be attending the three day event with the hope of finding the one with whom they might spend the rest of their lives.
It might have all worked according to the grand cosmic plan, too, were it not for a mysterious key and a set of instructions Benedict receives from a very special messenger before the first night of the ball, instructions that will become an imperative that both confounds and illuminates and eventually breaks him free, a painful journey that, on the third day, sets him on a course to a future very different from the one that had been mapped out for him by that which is considered the norm.
From the unexpected representation of a young man’s destiny to the agony and realization and eventual discovery of his true self, Benedict is a story of surprises and of the burgeoning promise of young love set in a place of magic and imagination. This is Hayden Thorne at some of her allegorical best, leading the reader through a time of change and growth, and eventually to the acceptance not of a one-size-fits-all love but of a tailor-made love that suits two boys, perfectly.