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GOLD IN THE CLOUDS
After his fifteenth birthday, Blythe Midwinter finds himself in a bit of a pickle. It’s high time for him to be a productive member of his family, taking up work he detests in order for his older sister, Molly, to follow her dreams of success as a talented baker. Though the three orphaned Midwinter siblings — Molly, Bertie, and Blythe — are lucky enough to work, they still earn only enough to keep themselves clothed and fed. Blythe desperately wishes for more, and it doesn’t help that his best and only friend, Jack Wicket, refuses hard, honest work in favor of good luck as the only means for quick success and instant riches.
Blythe’s dreams of a better life get more desperate when he attracts the attention of another boy, the youngest son of a rebellious old artist, whose family rises well above Blythe’s in wealth and station. Embarrassment and shame muddle Blythe’s perceptions of luck, work, and the promise of love — that is, until Jack Wicket’s foolish decision to exchange his beloved cow for a handful of magic beans forces Blythe to look past castles in the clouds and understand what it is that truly measures a man’s worth.
“It’s a story that proves the point there can be only one hero in Jack’s quest, but Blythe has a journey all his own to realize, one in which he will find riches of a very different sort.” The Novel Approach
“I thought this story was vastly entertaining, with its down to earth characters. With the simple dreams of the characters and with its gentle learning curve for Blythe.” MM Good Book Reviews
ROSE AND SPINDLE
Boy meets boy. Boy hates boy. Each swears never to have anything to do with the other, forever after.
Unfortunately for Prince Hamlin and Prince Edouard, history has a bad habit of repeating itself, and worse, each time the two boys run across each other, things get a touch muddier as well. Destiny and free will go head-to-head, the princes’ dilemma echoing the more baffling curse that’s been placed on Edouard’s young cousin, Princess Roderika. Doomed to prick her finger on a spindle on her fifteenth birthday and fall asleep for a hundred years as a result, Roderika’s rapidly dwindling time becomes an inescapable tapestry into which Hamlin and Edouard’s own fates are woven.
With the help of a magician princess and a crotchety talking raven, Hamlin and Edouard not only have to outgrow prejudices, but also find the courage and the will to define their destinies, even if it were to take them a hundred years.
“It is one of the best ones I have ever read in my opinion and it is actually one of the very few retellings that I have read that created something quite fresh while playing with the themes we all had known from the childhood.” Reviews by Jessewave
“If you have a soft spot for fairy tales, enjoy the friction that results from two such contrasting personalities sparking off one another, and are looking for something a little quirky, this book may well be for you.” Rainbow Book Reviews
“It is a story of sacrifice but also a story of gain, in the knowing that when the time comes for the world to stop for those hundred years, the waking will be all the sweeter because it will be an awakening of both body and soul.” The Novel Approach
THE WINTER GARDEN AND OTHER STORIES
Strange music from a legendary haunted glade can only be heard by a special boy. A grieving young man turns to the dark arts to bring his deceased lover back. A soiled and tired knight protects the innocent from the threat of a dragon. Young love blooms in a desolate garden.
Familiar and original fairy tales, myths, and legends explore the complexities in a gay teen’s coming-of-age through allegory and metaphor. Rain-drenched circuses, old wives’ tales involving candles in windows, water-irises deep in a wood, lonely fairy kings, and magical Christmas parties not only present valuable lessons, but also provide an escape into worlds in which a gay teen can see himself as the amazing, resilient hero of adventures and romance.
* This anthology contains all of the short stories listed below and is available only in print format.
“Thorne’s work entranced my mind and satisfied a missing piece in what I desire of queer fiction: an emphasis on character. People are far more interesting than sex and the entanglements of drugs.” The Bernard Charles Show
To purchase each story, click on the book titles to take you to the publisher’s site, where excerpts are also available. Please note that short stories are only available in e-book format.
“The theme of the forest is big here, and without spoiling the surprise, I liked how the fear of the forest is used to conceal it’s true inhabitant, and the misdeeds of the community that it has long forgotten. That in itself is a message of rebirth, and the use of one of the most popular devices in fantasy, the mysterious magical forest, works well for that message.” Brief Encounters
“Its message is universal and is delivered in a touching and magical way that inspires an immediate affinity with the characters and the story.” The Novel Approach
“The cheerless atmosphere and a young man on the lunatic fringe infuse this story with the perfect balance of the disturbing and the romantic.” The Novel Approach
“The subtle twist at the end, the message that love is a power unto itself that will endure the test of time and prejudice is delivered in a way that truly is beautiful in its simplicity, but also profound in its significance.” The Novel Approach
“I think that style of writing, heavy on narration and voice, works well for Hayden, and also well for the character in this story. The first person past tense works well to bring forward that romanticism in the prose, which is what drew me in — and ultimately broke my heart just a little bit.” Brief Encounters
“The more I thought about this story, the deeper it touched my heart, and in such a wonderful way, leading me on a journey to a place where the beauty of the things we aren’t meant to see or fully comprehend are absolutely capable of existing in the presence of love.” The Novel Approach
“Ms. Thorne’s brilliant use of metaphor served her well in getting her point across concerning right and wrong. The characters Caedmon and the knight, Elne, were well drawn and the action in the story was engaging and non-stop. I recommend this quick read to anyone looking for an action story with life lessons.” Hearts on Fire Reviews
“I read this tale twice — once for the sake of reading it, the second time for the sake of experiencing it and all it entailed. It is both heartbreaking and uplifting , a legend and lesson in honor and virtue and discovering a priceless friendship in the most unlikely of circumstances.” The Novel Approach
“Hayden’s stories always fascinate me because if I were to read them and not consider the detail in the prose then I would miss the whole story, and that is the case here.” The Armchair Reader
“‘Erl-King’ is a magical love story, told in a ballad form and written in beautiful, lyrical prose which flows like poetry.” QMO Books
“There is always more to see beneath the surface of the story. On its surface it is expressive and vibrant; underneath it is rich in symbolism and eloquent in subtly relating the trials of coming of age and coming to terms with the challenges of being different than the world expects you to be.” The Novel Approach
“This really is a story that is best left without description. I have a feeling that the purpose is for every reader to experience it differently, which is certainly possible, lending to more subjectivity than most stories.” The Armchair Reader
“There is a dreamlike quality to this story, as it fractures the concepts of time and reality, and it does so vividly. The imagery is at once monochromatic, then given to full and vibrant Technicolor pictures that worked beautifully to paint this picture.” The Novel Approach
“For me, who love Russian Literature, this was special even though it is only loosely related in style. But I can see that with this story in particular how much Hayden Thorne cares about what she writes. That is isn’t just the message she has to impart, but the vehicle to depart it. Very well done.” The Armchair Reader
“This story is enchanting.” Hearts on Fire Reviews
“‘The Bridge’ is a fantastical story of magic, love, and a happy ending against all odds. I recommend this story to anyone who believes in the magic of love.” QMO Books
“Like the other short stories in Hayden Thorne’s recent collection, ‘The Bridge’ is filled with the magic and wonder and promise of finding love in spite of what seems to be impossible odds.” The Novel Approach
“If you like YA books and are interested in something unusual with a historical setting, I can recommend this one. One the surface it seems deceptively simple in the way it’s written but the story stayed with me and made me think deeper about the themes, which is always a good thing in my book!” Brief Encounters
“Once again this is also a metaphor for a young gay man, which is barely touched directly in the story, of a world’s expectations that can crush one’s spirit. The fact that LaCaille is an almost completely objective witness to this in the beginning, though surprisingly accepting to change, spins the story into a hopeful tale of triumph over societal expectation.” The Armchair Reader
“‘The Water-Irises’ is a story of acceptance and of faith, told in a world within a world of dreams and magic. It is a classically beautiful fairy tale, enchanting and lush and idyllic in every way.” The Novel Approach
Young Nicola Gregori has always wanted to follow in the footsteps of his father, a brilliant clock-maker who’s famous for his wild, fantastical designs. But his father instead sends him to school to learn more practical matters. Nicola, stricken with infantile paralysis that left him with a deformed right leg, becomes an object of mockery and cruel jokes in school. He learns that in order to survive his daily ordeals, he needs to vanish in the crowd, to stop aspiring, to stop dreaming, and above all, to believe himself unworthy of respect and love.
Tragedy strikes when Nicola turns sixteen. Gustav Renfred, an old friend of his father, takes on Nicola as his charge and whisks him away to an isolated islet filled with empty mansions and bordered by a bluebell forest. There Nicola slowly learns about the tragic history that tightly weaves together the fates of Jacopo Gregori, Gustav Renfred, and Gustav’s twin sister, Constanza.
Magic, impossible dreams, and unrequited love come together in Ambrosi, the Renfreds’ mansion, where Nicola is caught up in a world of haunting portraits, a ghostly housekeeper, and the mysterious disappearance of Davide, Constanza’s adopted son. When Nicola’s invited to one of Renfred’s magical masquerades, he discovers the answers to riddles as well as the mounting danger that the Renfred family faces with every passing hour. With the masquerades’ existence depending on the physical and mental strength of an ailing Renfred, the task of solving the mystery of Davide’s disappearance before time runs out falls on Nicola’s shoulders, and he has no choice but to depend on things he’s long learned to suppress: courage, self-respect, and the desire to aim for impossible goals.
“The characters are very well developed and I was really able to connect with them. The emotions that the characters experienced were really raw and easily felt.” Flamingnet Reviews
“The themes of the book are simple — coming of age, coming to terms with who you are, how you view yourself and how the world views you. But the themes are by no means simplistic; never once did I, as an adult, feel that the book talked down to me, thus I would imagine and hope that a young person reading it will not feel that way either.” Reviews by Jessewave
“Hayden Thorne’s writing is a love affair with language and symbolism, her books ones that engage the mind and envelope the senses. The settings are a breath of life, as much a part of the plot as the characters, becoming characters themselves that are wholly imperative to the narrative.” Top 2 Bottom Reviews
“Hayden Thorne is blessed with the ability to tell ageless stories; ageless because they are suspended in time, they can be a fantasy or an historical or even a contemporary setting or all of the previous, and ageless because they are fit as much for a young reader than for an adult one.” Elisa Rolle