on 23rd July 2014
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.
Arriving in Venice on the eve of Carnevale , Orelia Rossetti has no interest in fancy dresses and elaborate masks. She’s in the City of Bridges to find answers about her late mother. Her uncle takes her in on the condition she tell no one – not even her cousins – her true identity. Posing as his god-daughter, Orelia finds herself swept up in the mystique of Venice’s carnival. Her cousins Angelique and Veronica introduce her to the world of masks and balls but Orelia finds the masquerade extends to more than just the formal events – secrets and deception run rampant through the Venice canals. Orelia gets swept up in the festival and will need to keep her wits about her to avoid the danger of deception.
This debut novel by Kylie Fornasier is full of mystery and intrigue. In addition to Orelia, this novel follows the lives of several Venetian teenagers as they embark on another season of Carnavale. Superstitious Angelique is looking for love and thinks she may have found it – if only it was requited. Angelique’s sister Veronica is not looking for a husband and goes to some very unorthodox methods to avoid being married. Playboy Bastian wants something different from the life he as been dealt and indulges in the occasional bet with his close friend Marco to pass the time. Marco’s sister Claudia has to deal with her overbearing and controlling mother trying to advance their social standing whilst ruining Claudia’s life in the process. And there is Anna – a servant girl – who just wants to save her sister.
I loved how Orelia’s story interacted with each of these characters. All of their lives are so interconnected, it was a pleasure to read just how interlinked everything was. Written as in five acts with each act being preceded by a William Shakespeare quote, Masquerade fully embraced the Venetian vibe. I loved the use of the setting with Venice almost becoming a character itself. The descriptions of the watery city are so vivid – I could almost believe I was in Venice alongside the characters. There is a distinct Venetian vibe thought the entire novel – from when Orelia first arrives in the city to the final page – which added to the mystique and drama. I was also impressed with how well researched with regards to the city but also some of the Italian customs this book was. The way the aristocracy worked, their views towards that which they did not understand, the importance of reputation – never did I question the author’s understanding of life in 1750’s Italy. She made me believe the events of Masquerade could have been historical fact rather than contemporary written fiction.
The title, Masquerade, is clever with the double meaning being appropriate to every part of the story. The characters may spend their lives as masked balls but behind each mask, the wearer is hiding more than just their faces. Orelia finds that she is not the only one with secrets she would rather keep under wraps. The secrets come out (as secrets are prone to do) and I loved finding out what was motivating the characters. There heroes and villains with some wearing both masks as the same time. One of the best things about this novel was how well it was written. It was a pleasure discovering secrets and watching relationships develops over the course of the book. I enjoyed the vastly different characters and my heart rose and broke with their triumphs and heart breaks.
After reading Kylie Fornasier’s debut novel, I can’t wait to read what she writes next. Masquerade was the perfect mix of mystery and drama set in 1750’s Venice. There’s gossip, deceptive antics, meddling families and characters who are hiding more than just their faces behind their Venetian masks. I highly recommend it to fans of well written and exciting stories with a historical European flair.
Thanks to Penguin Teen Australia and Netgalley for the review copy.