Author: Hayden Thorne
Cover Artist: Written Ink Designs
Publisher: Queerteen Press
Buy Links: Buy LinkAmazon
Genre: young adult, fantasy
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
A guest review by Larissa
Review Summary: A not so straightforward, but nicely written symbolic coming of age story.
A young person’s sixteenth birthday is an important rite of passage that’s celebrated in the land of marionettes. A quarterly dance at the king’s palace for recent celebrants marks the highlight of a teenager’s year, where youngsters of all classes are invited to mingle and dance and enjoy themselves, forging new friendships and potential romances, all of which are expected to shape their lives for the better.
Benedict is a boy from a privileged household. Spoiled and taught his role as the future benefactor to those less fortunate, he’s grown up with specific strictures on how to behave toward others, and he’s learned to look to his elders for unequivocal guidance.
Just before the next dance at the king’s palace—a dance where Benedict, having just turned sixteen, is invited—a few strange things begin to happen. First, there’s the matter regarding Jeremy, Benedict’s friend, who lives in a poor cottage with his mother and grandmother in the woods. Jeremy’s not only been acting oddly, but also is missing some of his marionette strings. No amount of prodding from Benedict yields answers, and the more he tries to delve into things, the more Jeremy pushes away.
Secondly, there’s the matter regarding birds insisting that Benedict go to the palace to find the lost prince. With nothing but a key and obtuse instructions to go by, Benedict attempts to humor the birds but gradually realizes that the answer to the mystery of the lost prince could very well be a lot more personal than he’d first believed, especially when he sees Jeremy somehow being involved in it.
This is a book that came my way weeks ago, because I was fascinated by the blurb and, well, everyone knows I’m a sucker for gay young adult stories. Fortunately for me I wasn’t disappointed with Hayden Thorne’s Benedict. In fact, I was quite surprised about the writing and symbolism portrayed in the story and of course the story itself. Despite its short length it packs quite an oomph.
I’m not going to go more into plot of the story as the blurb gives a very good indication and to do so would give away a lot of the story and the symbolism behind it. What I can tell you is that there comes a time when a child is no longer a child nor is that child an adult. This in-between stage is quite hard; you’re neither one nor the other. It is a time to start becoming your own person and making your own choices, but that is never an easy feat. Some of that is at the heart of Benedict.
The writing of Benedict quite surprised me. It’s been a while since a story managed to challenge me. There is a lyrical quality to the style of writing as well as hidden meanings. It’s almost like reading a fairy-tale. It was quite a treat to read. At the same time, it may not be for everyone. If you like straightforward stories, then you might be quite put off by Benedict.
There is not so much characterization as that Benedict has a function in the story and undergoes some rounded development that in turn gives meaning to the story. Benedict is very much an observer as well as a participant in the story. It takes quite a writer to pull such a feat off and I thought this was very well done.
Can you tell I’m having a hard time telling you about this story without giving too much away? Hayden Thorne’s Benedict is not a story you can really tell about. It is a story to be experienced. So all I tell you is this: go get this story! It will not be a disappointment!