Title: On Tinsel Wings
Author: Augusta Li
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press July 2013
Rating: B+ List:
Blurb: Patrick Harford sees hope as magical and beautiful, too delicate to hold—and everything in his life has proved him right. An unhealthy home leaves him hiding in the shadows as he tries to come to terms with his sexuality.
Patrick finds solace among the performers at the Allegaheny Mountains Renaissance Faire, where he discovers a love of performing and costumes. As he starts to come out of his shell, he meets Yu Elion, an apprentice blacksmith. Yu gives Patrick a glimpse of fairy-tale love.
But just when hope starts to blossom, it withers. Cynical after a past filled with failed relationships, Yu keeps Patrick at a distance. Working two jobs has disastrous consequences. And an obsessed fan takes things a step too far. After seeing all he’s built start to crumble, Patrick doesn’t know if he has what it takes to try again on his own, and Yu might not have the strength to be the one Patrick needs.
Review: A complex and layered story of a young man’s journey into adulthood. Of finding your way and creating your family from people who love and accept you, instead of based on biology and tradition. Of allowing yourself to be who you are, no apologies, no regrets, but with love and peace and joy.
Patrick was so sweet and innocent. Beaten, abandoned, betrayed, and neglected, yet always so generous and kind. He somehow managed to retain a purity of spirit and character that although brushed by bitterness refused to become jaded. He lived his life with his heart wide open and as he begins to see that there are people who appreciate his uniqueness and embrace what he has always feared in himself, he blossoms. He is talented and very artistic and when he finds ways to express it he sets the world on its ear.
There was a lot of abuse in Patrick’s life. He lived in fear, of discovery of his secret needs and desires, of his differentness, of his father’s fists and rage and indifference, of asking for what he wanted. Of believing in the hope that flitted just above his head, always too fast and flimsy for him to grasp or truly see, but never leaving him. There were quite a few scary moments and a lot of sad moments, and throughout I wanted to hug Patrick and tell him everything would be alright. Luckily he found several people who did just that.
While Yu appears very strong and self-sufficient, it becomes clear that he has also suffered from many of the same things that Patrick has endured. His fear of rejection and abandonment almost cost them their happiness. He’s completely seduced by Patrick, which I adored. While it was difficult and painful for him to let go and trust, when he finally leaps and puts his faith in love, hope and forever, he gets the fairy tale that they’ve both dreamed of.
I enjoyed the slow building and consummation of their love. The romance and wooing that Yu gave Patrick was beautiful, as was the poetry and sweetly innocent seduction that Patrick gave to Yu. I loved that they had patience with each other. I loved that they truly enjoyed and respected the person that each man was and accepted one another completely, as they were, with no plans or desire to change any aspect of the other person. I loved that they didn’t have any jealousy (and not in a sharing way) or the need to control each other. I loved that they had so much respect for each other as artists and found inspiration in being together. I loved that they made each other stronger, braver, sweeter, bolder and more themselves. I loved their journeys into trust and faith and love and happily ever after.
The friends in Patrick’s life that become his family, as he trusts in them and begins to ask for more from his life, are phenomenal. They teach him so much on so many levels and provide a support system and fill his life. They were a beautiful part of this story and I enjoyed, and was at times wishing I had some of them in my own life, the elements that they added to Patrick’s life.
Hope was also a very important character in this novel. Patrick sees hope as something almost tangible, that follows him and guides him, and even though it can never be held and makes no promises, it is also indestructible. In a way Patrick himself is hope, no matter how much life and those who should love him beat him down and disappoint him, he survives and shows a strength and determination that nothing can fully alter.
This wasn’t always easy to read. There were some very painful and disturbing aspects to Patrick’s life that were hard to watch. There were times I wanted to smack Yu and tell Patrick that he deserved more. There were times I wanted to smack Patrick and tell him to stop allowing people to abuse him, that things were getting dangerous and scary.
While complicated and often sad there was also so much happiness, fun, sweetness, love, romance, poetry, dashing knights and queens in need of rescue, friendship, family, acceptance, art and joy that filled the pages of this story. Patrick discovers himself, saves himself and a few others, learns to love and accept himself. While this process is difficult and at times painful and terrifying it is also beautiful and full of hope, fun and discovery.
This was a story of first love and the best time in your life. One character kept telling Patrick to enjoy every moment because he’d never feel this way again, never love so sweetly, innocently and wholeheartedly again. I loved that Patrick proved that, for some lucky few, your first love can last a lifetime.
I really want to see Titania perform! I would go to every one of her shows.
Reviewed by Nina