Book Review: Masquerade
By: Kylie Fornasier
Published By: Penguin Australia
Publication Date: July 23, 2014
Page Count: 304
Buy it at Amazon
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher
Genre: Young Adult - Historical Fiction
Masquerade is the masterful debut from Australian author Kylie Fornasier. It starts, Shakespeare style, with the list of characters, and the Shakespearean theme runs quite heavily through the book. Elements of The Merchant of Venice, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Romeo and Juliet, The Taming of the Shrew and others are present in the story. I loved picking out these elements, it felt like an inside joke between the author and me. If you’re not familiar with Shakespeare, then it won’t detract from your enjoyment of the novel, but understanding those nuances really added an extra level of enjoyment for me.
Masquerade follows the fate of a group of Venice's teenaged population, but starts with the recently orphaned Orelia as she arrives at the Venice palazzo of her Uncle. Forced to masquerade as his god-daughter, she is unable to reveal her true identity to anyone, even her cousins, Angelique and Veronica. Puzzled as to why she can’t reveal her true identity, and why her mother’s name is forbidden, Orelia seeks to find the truth of her heritage among the web of deceit that pervades the upper echelons of Venetian society.
Angelique is desperately in love with Bastian, the son of the Doge. Bastian and his best friend, Marco, can't help but make increasingly outrageous wagers with each other, and enjoy nothing more than using the good ladies of Venice for their pleasure. Veronica is of marriageable age, but uses her talent and wit to avoid accepting a proposal. Marco’s sister Claudia is being pressed into a suitable marriage, but is desperately in love with someone else. Anna is a servant with a good heart, but a desperate secret. Elements in society will be only too happy to use it against her.
Venice is in many ways a character itself in the novel, it plays such a large part and is so well rendered by the author. I really felt myself transported to 18th century Venice, and was reluctant to leave at the end of the story. The settings and costumes are beautifully described. Carnivale provides the perfect backdrop for the story, with the masks and elaborate costumes beautifully described.
Just like Shakespeare, not all characters have a happy ending. My heart broke for one particular character. There is scope for a sequel here, and I do hope Penguin choose to publish it.
Masquerade is wonderfully written and I am really looking forward to seeing what Kylie Fornasier produces next.
It's the Carnevale of 1750 and Venice's ballrooms, theatres, palazzos and squares are filled with delicious gossip, devilish fun and dangerous games. In this glittering masked world, everyone has a secret...
Set in an age of decadence made famous by Casanova, Masquerade uncovers the secrets of seven teens, from the highest aristocrat to the lowest servant – their dreams, desires, loves, loyalties ... and betrayals.
All the world's a stage. Let the show begin.