For it falls out that what we have, we prize not to the worth whiles we enjoy it, but being lacked and lost, why, then we rack the value, then we find the virtue that possession would not show us while it was ours.” ~ Much Ado About Nothing, William Shakespeare
Nicholas Webster is a very confused young man; the sad part is, he doesn't even know it. He has no one to guide him. Nicholas realizes at a young age that he's attracted to men instead of women but is never told why that is unacceptable. Nicholas is sent home from school after being caught with two young men. His parents are mortified, but still don't explain why he shouldn't indulge. His father beats him but never explains why he's being punished. In an effort to be rid of Nicholas, his father sells him to a local businessman, Simeon Allan, to be his secretary.
Nicholas has never been taught any skills, so he fails miserably. He also has no qualms about stealing and lusting after someone on staff. Simeon confronts him one day about all his foibles and why he should curtail them. Then he offers Nicholas a 'job' as his 'boy toy”. Nicholas embraces his position with vigor, there at Simeon's disposal. Nicholas resents being an employee rather than someone Simeon cares about. He doesn't take into account that even though Simeon 'uses' him, he also provides many comforts Nicholas would otherwise not have. He doesn't see this as an expression of caring. When Simeon's young nephew, Benedict comes to visit, Nicholas mistakes lust for love and obsesses about Benedict, fantasizing about this being his chance to have someone who cares about him. Unfortunately, Benedict is not the businessman that his uncle is and Simeon knows this. He won't give Benedict what he needs to promote the business so Benedict decides to leave. Desperate to keep him there, Nicholas comes up with a plan to make that happen.
It's difficult for me to believe that someone doesn't automatically know right from wrong, therefore, isn't capable of making logical, moral choices, but Nicholas is one of those people. Not being taught how to make appropriate decisions, either by example or teaching, he simply doesn't have the reasoning power to sort it out properly. As narrator, I saw what was going on in Nicholas's mind and it wasn't a comfortable place to be. Because Nicholas has no discretion or power of reasoning, it is inevitable that some tragedy will befall him. Although I hoped, for his sake, Nicholas would somehow come to realize that what he had was perhaps not ideal, but nonetheless better than he would have had, and grow to appreciate it before it was too late. Sadly, it never happened. If you enjoy a suspenseful, spooky gothic horror mystery which keeps you on the edge of your seat and gets your heart beating rapidly with anticipation, despite the fact that you know what's probably going to happen, then you may like this story. Thanks, Clare, for the perfect Halloween story.