The Twilight Gods by Hayden Thorne
London during the Great Exhibition of 1851 is a new world of technological advances, eye-popping inventions, and glimpses of exotic treasures from the East. For fifteen-year-old Norris Woodhead it’s a time of spectral figures mingling with London’s daily crowds, and an old rectory in a far corner of the English countryside, a great house literally caught in time, where answers to curious little mysteries await him. Confined by his family’s financial woes, Norris suffers a lonely and unsatisfying time till the day he (and only he) notices “shadow-folks” in the streets. Then a strange widow appears, rents a vacant room in the house, and takes him under her wing. She becomes his guardian, slowly revealing those shadows’ secrets, Norris’connection with them, and the life-altering choices he has to face in the end.
The Twilight Gods is a retelling of Native American folktale called “The Girl Who Married a Ghost.” Set in Victorian England, it’s an alternative perspective on a gay teen’s coming-out process, with Norris’ journey of self-discovery couched in magical and supernatural terms and imagery.
What is good in this life? Why, retelling stories in new and interesting ways, particularly queerly. (I’ve never seen Conan the Barbarian. I’m working on it.) I do start at the idea of whitewashing a Native American folktale, but historical queer young adult fiction is so rare (and Wildthorn being a bit of a disappointment), that I have to at least investigate.
John at Dreaming in Books loved it, particularly how Norris is both a likable hero and clearly a product of his time. Brent at the Naughty Book Kitties has read much more queer lit than I have, and he still finds The Twilight Gods very gripping and original. Kassa at three am finds the romanticizing of ostracization and queer matyrdom wildly problematic. And this review by a thirteen-year-old at the LitPick/Flamingnet Book Reviews Blog is positive and too precious not to link to.
The Twilight Gods was published on October 14th, 2009.