Review: A Masque of Infamy by Kelly Dessaint

I’m excited to be a part of the blog tour for Kelly Dessaint’s A Masque of Infamy. I actually downloaded a copy of this title on Amazon the day it was offered as a free e-book. Thanks to Sage’s Blog Tours for including me on the tour, which runs June 7-28, 2013. Be sure to check out the complete tour schedule and read reviews posted on other stops.

Title: A Masque of Infamy
Author: Kelly Dessaint
Publisher: Phony Lid Publications
Released: March 6, 2013
Source: Amazon (free special for Kindle)

Synopsis:

A Masque of Infamy is a horrific and raucous story of teenage rebellion. But instead of “What d’ya got?” fifteen-year-old Louis Baudrey knows exactly what he’s fighting against…

After moving from Los Angeles to small town Alabama in 1987 with his father, his younger brother and Rick, a friend of the family, Louis tries to fit in at the local high school, but the Bible-thumpers and the rednecks don’t take too kindly to his outlandish wardrobe and burgeoning punk attitude. At home, he defies the sadistic intentions of Rick, who rules the household with an iron fist. As Louis begins to lose all hope, he stumbles upon indisputable proof that will free him and his brother from Rick’s tyranny. But just when he thinks his troubles are over, he’s locked up in the adolescent ward of a mental hospital, where he must fight the red tape of the system to realize his dream of being a punk rocker.

A Masque of Infamy is an autobiographical novel, a coming of age story out of the horrors of child abuse. The dialogue is raw and rough, the characters are very real.

Kelly Dessaint has crafted his story so the reader keenly feels Louis and Joey’s confusion, frustration, fear, and anger as they experience it. I was trying to figure out what the system was doing as the boys were being processed and moved around. And the real story, the one Louis doesn’t allow himself to tell for so long, is slowly revealed through his time in the hospital. It explains his feelings and behavior, and makes his story less about teenage rebellion and more about a desperate search for some, any, semblance of stability.

I was far more disgusted and horrified at the boys’ family situation than they were, and found their somewhat casual feelings toward the adults in their lives horrifying. Whenever a novel contains a child abuse theme, you know it isn’t going to be an easy read. But seeing just how easily children can be manipulated by their abusers was so difficult.

I was surprised and even a little angry that the story ended when it did. I felt invested in these characters, and didn’t want the novel to end before I could find out whether or not they were really okay. Louis develops into a confident, capable young man, but I was still worried about Joey and wanted to know how he fared.

The trepidation I’m left with speaks to how well Dessaint connects readers with his characters’ intensely desperate situation. And despite the fact that there wasn’t a neat and tidy ending, I was left with a good deal of hope.

I received a copy of this book from Amazon (free special for Kindle) and agreed to participate in its virtual book tour by providing my honest review. I did not receive any compensation for this review.