Book Blurb :
The first novel from Xavier Axelson is set against a backdrop of decadence, privilege, and intrigue. Virago, the royal tailor, makes a discovery that will test the bonds of brotherhood, unravel the forbidden secrets of his heart and threaten the very fabric of his existence.
In a land where cruelty is disguised as allegiance, loyalty is masked by obligation and the laws of sumptuary govern the people, nothing is more dangerous than Velvet.
The blurb sounded interesting and intriguing enough but I wasn’t aware that this would be, first and foremost, a fantasy novella and not a historical one, though it definitely has a very strong medieval flavor. I very seldom read that genre, but it took me as little as a few pages to be effortlessly transported into the author’s very imaginative world, a rather dark but very sensual and erotic fairy tale.
In a certain way this story is, in my opinion, very reminiscent of Charles Perrault and the Grimm brother’s fairy tales; not anything in particular but the spirit is definitely there. Like in these unforgettable fairy tales, Mr. Axelson takes us into a world far away in space and time, a kind of strange and inaccessible world where our usual landmarks may no longer be the same. All the classical and usual but also sometimes unusual elements are there, a Kingdom with a castle, a King and a tailor in a medieval world, wonderful but scary, where you can meet the best but also the very worst.
All is well in the Kingdom, King Killian and his personal tailor are long-time friends, as Prince Duir and Virago are childhood companions. When a sudden and unexpected accident deprives him of his father, Virago finds himself alone with his blind brother. Sylvain has the gift of second sight and he certainly sees much more than his brother ever will. Tears are shed on both sides, and then the good King Killian asks Virago to take his father’s place and come to court. In the meantime, war is coming and the brave King goes up North to fight. Death strikes again. Nobody wants to believe it, even less Duir or Virago but ultimately they have to accept it: King Killian is dead long live King Duir! This is when everything begins to change but not for the better …
Virago has kept a heavy and dangerous secret from everybody for a long time now. At twenty years of age it’s becoming more difficult and frustrating to bear … and there is also this constant fear of being discovered!
Then one day in the far corner of his workroom, Virago discovers the most beautiful and soft fabric that he has ever seen which magically seems to attract the light in a very uncommon way. Precious and nonpareil, this is called velvet, made for a king!
I won’t say more about the story, suffice it to say that at one point, the Kingdom collapses from Heaven into Hell. The madness of a king, a woman’s wrath, a frightful disease and pure cruelty, surface all together and collide. This is when a fairy tale becomes a nightmare.
Still, there’s a light in this darkness, Virago meets Seton. Seton has the most beautiful face he has ever seen with mesmerizing blue eyes and he plays his music like an angel but Virago doesn’t know if it’s a blessing or a curse because Seton could be his undoing … it’s love and passion at first sight and later on you certainly can feel the heat!
Xavier Axelson has spun a wonderfully dark medieval fantasy story with its very own atmosphere entwined with colorful and rich descriptions as precious as velvet that cannot but work wonders with your imagination. He uses here a vastly different vocabulary and this poetic prose gives a very unique color and rhythm to the tale. It is brilliantly done, well written with a very inventive and fascinating plot and storyline. I simply loved it and I give this novella 5 couples.
Pubisher : Seventh Window Publications
Source : Author provided copy for review
Released : October 26th 2012