Set in Venice in 1750 during the five months of Carnevale celebrations, Masquerade is a fascinating work of historical fiction for teens. Set out in a series of Acts each introduced with a quote from a Shakespearean play, the drama of the intertwined storylines unfolds for readers, building tension and drawing them into the complicated world of 18th century Venetian society.
While the story starts and concludes with Orelia’s search for identity and the truth about her mother’s past, there are seven central characters – Orelia, her cousins Angelique and Veronica Contarini and their servant Anna, siblings Claudia and Marco D’Este, and Bastion Donato (son of the Venetian governor) as well as a cast of secondary characters including parents, servants and suitors.
Venice is a city of artifice, especially during Carnevale when the citizens wear a variety of masks to shield their identity. There is a strictly observed hierarchy, but Carnevale allows people to put aside expectations and be true to themselves by hiding their identity and flirting with people and possibilities that are not an option during their everyday life.
I found the information about Venetian society fascinating. Venice is the perfect setting for a novel where appearance doesn’t always match the reality of the situation and for characters who are conflicted about who they are and who they want to be. There are social climbers, those seeking to escape social expectations, those willing to risk it all for love, and those who simply want to be free to pursue their dreams alone all living out their lives in a city of suspicions, superstitions, decadence and passion.
I loved every page of Masquerade and I sincerely hope that there are plans for a sequel.
Author: Kylie Fornasier
Publisher: Penguin, $19.99 RRP
Publication Date: 1 August 2014
For ages: 13+
Type: Young Adult Fiction