Title: The Mask Maker
Author: Spencer Rook
Length: 11,000 words (36 pdf pages)
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Genre: m/m fantasy YA
Rumors abound about the mysterious young mask maker, everyone curious as to why he spends all his time hidden away in his house, barely talking past what’s required to complete a job. Determined to learn more about him, Luk agrees to go speak to him about the masks commissioned for a coming festival. What he encounters is a man much more, and much less, than all the rumours warned him about.
I’m noting this as YA, in part because both characters are 16 years old and there is no explicit sex in the story. Luk and his classmates are preparing for their graduation and during construction of the stage, a lot of time is spent gossiping about the locals, including the young mask maker. Luk feels a bit badly about the things they are saying about him, remembering one interaction he had when they were around 9. He agrees to go and check on the progress of the masks for graduation, but it doesn’t go well when he asks to see the mask maker (who remains hidden during their conversation) and Alexander kicks him out.
However Alexander apologises and they take the opportunity to get to know one another. It seems most of the gossip about Alexander is false and he had a difficult childhood and has been running the family mask business alone for two years since his father died when Alexander was only 14. There’s not much angst, there’s a small falling out when Alexander refuses to attend Luk’s graduation, having cloistered himself for so long he’s nervous to go out.
And maybe that is part of where I had a little confusion. Alexander claims that he has to stay hidden, but really he’s not hideous, I suppose you’d say modern goth, but I couldn’t understand why he, or anyone would consider him so unattractive as to remain hidden. It just didn’t seem to make much sense to me. There were also a couple of times when some modern word usage kind of seemed incongruous to me with the fantasy/magical setting, but it might not bother some others and they aren’t excessive.
If you’re in the mood for some light fantasy this is a cute little story of young boys finding each other in their small village.