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Winter Masquerade

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Ferris wakes on the Sea Queen, an enchanted cruise ship sailing on a chocolate sea. He has no idea how he got here, but he desperately wants to go home to his boyfriend.

The alchemist is the only person who can help Ferris, but he’s been kidnapped. The ransom is high tea with scones and jam.

Meanwhile, the passengers are gearing up for the Winter Masquerade, a ball where love and magic reign.

With a murderous musician, an absent boyfriend, and a mystical party, Ferris soon learns that Wednesday is not the day to fall in love.


Published January 20, 2020

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About the author

Kevin Klehr

18 books145 followers
Kevin lives with his husband, Warren, in their humble apartment (affectionately named Sabrina), in Australia’s own ‘Emerald City,’ Sydney.

His tall tales explore unrequited love in the theatre district of the Afterlife, romance between a dreamer and a realist, and a dystopian city addicted to social media.

His first novel, Drama Queens with Love Scenes, spawned a secondary character named Guy. Many readers argue that Guy, the insecure gay angel, is the star of the Actors and Angels book series. His popularity surprised the author. The third in this series, Drama Queens and Devilish Schemes, scored a Rainbow Award (judged by fans of queer fiction) for Best Gay Alternative Universe/Reality novel.

His novel, The Midnight Man, scored first place in the LGBT category of the Paranormal Romance Guild's Reviewer's Choice Awards, as well as winning the Fantasy category of the 2021 Gay Scribe Awards.

So, with his fictional guardian angel guiding him, Kevin hopes to bring more whimsical tales of love, life and friendship to his readers.

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Displaying 1 - 27 of 27 reviews
Profile Image for True Loveislovereview.
2,170 reviews1 follower
February 14, 2020
5+++ Never could I imagine what a tremendous story was hidden behind the title and cover.
I was flabbergasted, looking around the scenery I was just stunned.
Try to imagine a big cruise ship sailing on a chocolate ocean with a white-chocolate dolphin and a bright rainbow in the sky.
That’s exactly the place where Ferris landed from... he doesn’t know or remember.
It was a surrealistic world, a bit chaotic, all those different impressions and creatures. Ferris and my head swirled.

Ferris wants to go home where the ocean is of water. For that to happen, he has to find the Alchemist. Some people will help him, like Cole, Camilla, Olive, Molly, and more. It seems they want to help him, only first; something has to be solved.

It’s as two worlds are living parallel. Ferris’s own, and the world on board and the second one has two sides, a bright and a dark one. And every time Ferris talks about home and his boyfriend it seems the dark side takes over.

There is so much going on. Like people gain insight, and layers come down.
Ferris got a lot of questions from the people who wanted to help him. Questions with depth. Slowly, he understands what everything means.

Imaginary and real-life are colliding. The metaphor turns into reality.

An unbelievable good layered story about surviving and finding your inner strength. Sometimes life throws dirt at you and your vision gets indistinct. The way the author touches this content was breathtaking, just breathtaking. I was deeply touched by this story. I think every living soul can learn here.
What an excellently written story! At times I couldn’t read because of my blurred vision, all my emotions bubbling up.
Memorable pieces are passing by onboard; I was floored. The tart and witty comments here and there were exquisite. But the lessons learned from them were the most spectacular.

Deep bow!!
Profile Image for Trio.
2,927 reviews171 followers
March 24, 2022
This stunning story left me speechless. I’m in awe of Kevin Klehr’s marvelous writing, and while I try to gather my thoughts about Winter Masquerade, let me rave a bit about the talented narrator, Jon Bolitho-Jones.

I’ve never had the pleasure of listening to this remarkable voice actor before, and I sincerely hope this is the first of many! This is a high spirited and lively story, and Mr. Bolitho-Jones keeps up the pace, and adds even more zest to the spectacle. And his ability to create a unique voice, which perfectly suits each of this incredibly varied cast of characters, is admirable… not to mention, there’s singing !

Okay, so I’m still pretty overwhelmed, and I think trying to do justice to Kevin Klehr’s Winter Masquerade in a book review might be an impossible task. It’s easy to applaud the author’s skill at weaving this clever story through the two parallel worlds. And heartily praising his impressive creativity and wit is a no brainer. But I’m afraid I’m incapable of capturing the essence of what listening to Winter Masquerade meant to me.

I think all that’s left to say is: BRAVO Mr. Klehr! Thank you for creating something so enjoyable, for sharing this piece of your heart, and mostly, for touching me so deeply with Ferris’ emotional tale.

an audiobook copy of Winter Masquerade was provided for the purpose of my honest review, all opinions are my own
Profile Image for Danielle  Gypsy Soul.
3,101 reviews70 followers
February 20, 2020
Not for me. This book had a definite Alice in Wonderland vibe and I was never a big fan of that type of story. It's ridiculously absurd but it's meant to be. I knew very early what all the characters were trying to get
Profile Image for Joyfully Jay.
7,384 reviews418 followers
January 21, 2020
A Joyfully Jay review.

4.5 stars

Based on the official blurb, I was hoping for an absurdist piece I could get lost in and I think Klehr certainly delivers. First, I appreciated the tidy “bookend” scenes with the monks that serve as a sort of bridge between Ferris’ real life and his time on the Sea Queen. For me, having that intermediary stage between the two worlds helped me accept the seeming folderol aboard the Sea Queen. Another crucial element that held the fantasy world aboard the Sea Queen together was the carefully consistent reference to concepts and people in that world. For example, there is a whole series of other passengers whose names are puns (Miss Represent, Miss Calculation, Miss Assumption) and seem to provide the main supporting cast (especially Molly and Camilla) with conversational topics. This coupled with the physical description of the Sea Queen’s world of chocolate seas and rainbow lights in the sky really helped me imagine Ferris landed in a world that had been in motion before he ever arrived and that temporary visitors like him were nothing out of the ordinary. In other words, the supporting characters did not seem to be there merely to prop up Ferris’ journey.

Read Camille’s review in its entirety here.
Profile Image for Katie.
412 reviews26 followers
January 29, 2020
Nothing good can come of a Wednesday.

Coincidentally, I am writing this review on a Wednesday. I hope it’s not a sign of things to come.

While this starts off as a wild ride, the end result is a stronger Ferris who realizes he never lost those who care the most for him. When Ferris starts realizing what the fantastical characters at the Winter Masquerade are telling him and trying to make him understand, he seems to come back to his reality with a sense of confidence and stability, a condition he would have taken much longer to find without the intervention of a musician, a talking horse, a harp player, and an alchemist.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Profile Image for Roger Hyttinen.
Author 10 books62 followers
February 21, 2020
Winter Masquerade is an absurdist fiction story that follows a young man named Ferris who awakens on the Sea Queen, a ship that is sailing on a sea of chocolate and which contains passengers with names like Miss Calculation, Miss Communication, Miss Assumption and Miss Represent. He had no idea where he is or how he ended up in this bizarre, surrealistic world; all he wants to do is get home to his boyfriend, Harris. On the ship, he befriends an eclectic group of individuals who agree to help him find his way back. There is supposedly one person on the ship who can help him called The Alchemist, but unfortunately, he’s just been kidnapped, creating another mystery to solve.

A further mystery is the fact that Ferris seems to keep temporarily slipping into a darker, grittier, more menacing alternate dimension in which one of the ordinarily friendly musicians is trying to kill him, the ship he is on is nothing more than a rusted hunk of scrap metal, and the ocean is chock-full of garbage. What’s strange is that this only seems to happen when he thinks about a certain someone back in his “real” world.

This story really had an Alfred Jarry/Alice in Wonderland vibe to it, which was a lot of fun. Though at first glance Winter Masquerade seemed like an absurdist, possibly silly story, there were actually many layers to it, especially once we figured out the true reason that Ferris found himself on the Sea Queen, which was slowly revealed to Ferris throughout the course of the book.

I found it fascinating how Ferris’s new experiences paralleled what was going on in his real world and how the book ended up being a story about survival and finding your own inner strength — about taking back your power. It also served to remind us how easily someone can take that power away from us and, in the process, asks a lot of complex questions.

The characters in the story were charming and yes, silly, and each of them served a purpose in Ferris’s narrative as each helped Ferris to understand the life lesson his time on the Sea Queen is proving him. I especially liked Cole’s character and enjoyed how Ferris slowly unraveled the mystery, thanks to Cole’s influence. There’s also an interesting backstory surrounding Cole and Ferris’s relationship, which added an extra compelling layer to the story. All the quirky and outlandish events in the narrative were kept steady and were grounded by the realism and truth behind it all.

This was a wild ride of a story with stellar world-building, a fun cast of zany characters, and an important message underneath it all. I loved seeing Ferris come into his own and become the person he was meant to be. I thought this was utterly enchanting and a treat for anyone who enjoys an off the wall tale with many layers — an intense roller coaster ride through a world of chocolate and danger. This story is so inventive and so much fun that it repeatedly brought a smile to my face as I worked my way through it. I loved this little gem!

But at the end of the day, one cannot forget one of the most important lessons of the book: “Never fall in love on Wednesday. Nothing good can ever come from anything happening on a Wednesday.”
Profile Image for Sadonna.
2,572 reviews40 followers
February 7, 2020
This review and much more can be found at Love Bytes Reviews

Ferris seems to be in an alternate world, that leads to other even more frightening alternate worlds. He meets with a number of strange characters in this world as he makes his way through the days on a ship sailing a chocolate sea filled with chocolate creatures. It’s unclear at first how he has gotten to this ship or why he is here dealing with these strange beings. There is a band of sorts with three very different musicians. There is a detective with a magical sidekick. There is the captain and the alchemist and his wife and mistress. Nothing seems to fit together, and when Ferris begins to talk about his boyfriend, Harris, things take a dark turn and he’s in danger. And this happens over and over. It seems like they are trying to teach him something or make him see something. And as the week rolls on, the whole ship is preparing for the Winter Masquerade where maybe things will become clear for Ferris.

This was an interesting novella. I found myself confused over and over as there quite a few characters and their purpose in unclear at first. The story is very non-linear in ways. It’s not until quite close to the end that it’s pretty evident what has lead to this break and the lesson that Ferris needs to take away from this adventure. We’re never quite sure if this is Ferris’ mind protecting himself, leading him to the truth, showing him a way out, or just what. I did very much like the ending and Janus was my favorite character on the Sea Queen. This is the first book I’ve read by this author. While I was unsure where it was going in the first half, I liked the resolution.
Profile Image for Dani(elle).
561 reviews5 followers
February 3, 2020
Great if you like absurdist fiction. Alas, I'm not super into absurdism. There is a very Alice in Wonderland vibe that keeps the reader interested but at the same time I wasnt super wowed by the plot itself. I would definitely read this author again, but this story didn't impress me as much as I wanted it to.
Profile Image for enjoyingbooksagain.
456 reviews32 followers
April 9, 2022
This is a truly unique fantasy read at first I thought ok this is going to be a silly unbelievable story I mean the sea is chocolate and full of garage and the ship is falling apart but the more I listened it I found the characters funny and the world the author built was amazing. I got a little bit of A Alice In wonderland vibe with this one.
Profile Image for Veronica of V's Reads.
1,528 reviews41 followers
March 28, 2020
This fantasy/magical realism story was filled with twists and turns--and breaks with reality. Reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland for adults.

Ferris awakes on the Sea Queen, an ocean liner sailing a chocolate river. He's unsure how he got there, and wonders what's happened to his boyfriend, Harris. He seeks help from the first people he finds, a kindly musical trio made up of Olive, Cole and Scallywag--a child. They urge him to seek help from the Alchemist, but the Alchemist has been kidnapped to another dimension. So, Ferris' brought to The Detective who's aided by a talking, flying minihorse called Janus, and the Alchemist's wife and mistress to help find Ferris' way home.

They urge him to describe his home to see if he can retrace his journey. Each time Ferris tries to talk about Harris he is transported to another dimension where sweet Olive is trying to murder everyone aboard ship--notably Ferris. The Alchemist stands ready to defend Ferris, but Ferris must come to terms with the evil in his life before he can find his way home.

Through several iterations, Ferris begins to see the pattern--discussing Harris causes him terror, injury and pain. The persons in his Sea Queen journey all represent people in Ferris' real life, friends and lovers he's lost due to the abusive relationship he's trapped in with Harris. Breaking through his self-isolating walls, through the fantasy comfort of the Sea Queen comrades, gives Ferris the impetus and strength to reach for the help he needs to escape--both the Sea Queen and his abuser.

It's an imaginative way to relate the terror of domestic violence without being overt. Ferris is a good man, and he's ashamed of the fearful and dire situation he's allowed himself to fall prey to. His abuser has appropriately groomed Ferris, to remove those supports that would hinder his ability to control Ferris. The Winter Masquerade is a metaphor for removing the masks that hide our secret selves--and Ferris finally lays down his mask to his dear, but estranged, friends. It was then that Ferris began to remake himself into an independent man, one he could believe worthy of love.

It's at times comical and confusing, in the way that Alice in Wonderland is both comical and confusing. It is only once Ferris returns to his real life roots that we begin to see and understand his real life problems. It takes time, but the resolution mentions Ferris finding the love of his life much later--when his heart's finally healed and ready to accept that love.
Profile Image for Ashley.
Author 5 books23 followers
February 11, 2020
The first thing I have to say about Winter Masquerade is the fact that it is entirely unique. I finished reading it a couple of days ago but I needed time to digest and analyze my thoughts about this story. There are so many layers and within its pages and it deserved the time. I’ve seen several people refer to it as absurdist fiction, but I don’t have any true experience with it. So I’m going to review it as what it meant to me while reading it.

Ferris wakes up in a world that doesn’t make sense. The sea is made of chocolate and there are characters with outlandish names (Miss Represent, Miss Calculation) that keep talking circles around him. He wants to find his way home. But to get there, he has to learn who he is and what he wants for himself.

I picked up quickly what was happening or happened to Ferris in real life that put him on board the Sea Queen. It was interesting that interspersed between the vivid, colorful characters, there were characters like Cole who served as a grounding factor for Ferris. He was able to see the type of person, the type of relationship he wanted. If it was possible to have that in this crazy world, then he could have it in real life.

I felt Ferris blossom and become the person he wanted to be. I, so very much, enjoyed seeing Ferris become Ferris. The Sea Queen and it’s permanent residents, taught him the importance of a support system. No matter how wacky that system may seem.

Give this one a read, it was one of the more memorable books I’ve had the pleasure of reading in the past few months. AND! I absolutely agree that Wednesdays bring nothing but trouble.
Profile Image for Nikky Lee.
Author 20 books48 followers
September 9, 2022

Move over Alice and Wonderland, here comes Winter Masquerade by Kevin Klehr. While far from a children’s story, this mad hatter's dreamscape delves deep into the weird, mysterious, and ultimately, romance.

When Ferris wakes on board the Sea Queen sailing on a chocolate sea, he comes to realise he is trapped in the strange and surreal dimension. His only hope of return is to locate the missing Alchemist on board the ship, who has also vanished under mysterious circumstances. Aided by new friends from the Sea Queen, which includes several musicians and a talking miniature pegasus, Ferris turns sleuth as he struggles to piece together not only a way home but his trampled heart.

The best comparison I can make is Alice in Wonderland meets If On A Winter’s Night A Traveler by Italo Calvino. This story has all the absurdities of the Mad Hatter’s tea party, and that in itself takes some getting used to. But if readers lean in to the dream-like surrealism, they’ll come to understand there’s a deeper, psychological undercurrent to the story. This is more than a dreamy tea party; it is Ferris’s soul laid bare. The lies that Ferris tells himself come out into the open and we, along with Ferris, begin to realise that the relationship he has with his real-world boyfriend, Harris, is not as healthy as he portrays it. In fact, it’s downright toxic.

This novella by Kevin Kelhr packs a lot within its 137 pages. I particularly loved seeing Ferris come out of his shell, “wake up” to his situation, and dig deep to find the resolve to save himself and his heart. I don’t want to spoil the ending for anyone but know it is sublime, and the remaining question of what is real and what is not lingers long after the final page.
Profile Image for Anne Barwell.
Author 17 books93 followers
October 21, 2021
3.5 rounded up.

This is a well written story that is very metaphysical and cleverly done. It has a strong wonderland vibe, and I liked how Ferris’ dream journey mirrored his reality as he worked through his issues. Although I appreciated the style and art of the story, I didn’t connect to the characters.

Profile Image for Helen.
758 reviews3 followers
May 6, 2022
Great narration to a fantasy trip

Wow, where do I start? This book will seriously mess with your mind in a good way. Alternative universe, a cruise going nowhere in a chocolate sea. Individuals who are multiple people. That's to start with.

But the story is one that we all know, believing in yourself and walking away from toxic relationships.

Ferris, the main character, leaps from one fantasy realm to another and back, which was confusing at first, but you get trapped in his world and jump with him.

Great narration, my first book narrated by Jon Bolitho-Jones and what a voice. I listened straight through without any breaks. So clear and very enjoyable, I Would recommend it.

Winter Masquerade
By: Kevin Klehr
Narrated by: Jon Bolitho-Jones
Length: 3 hrs and 40 mins

❤❤❤❤ Overall
🎧🎧🎧🎧🎧 Narration
📚📚📚📚 Story
Read at 1.25 speed on Audible

I received this audiobook for free from GRR at my request. My review is my opinion and an honest review - neither the author nor GRR influenced my opinion.
Profile Image for Annarella.
10.4k reviews99 followers
January 22, 2020
It was a fun and engrossing read.
I liked the cast of characters, the world building and the plot that kept me hooked.
It's the first book I read by this author and won't surely be the last.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.
Profile Image for Brianne McCallum.
902 reviews5 followers
May 5, 2022
I was given a free audio copy from the author for review.

I have not read this author before and didn't know what to expect. This was unlike anything I have ever read before. I don't want to spoiler but it was given me Alice in Wonderland and Dorthy in Oz vibes. That moment when you realize the way home is realizing what you really truly want in life.

This was a very short and fast paced story. It was very well written and creative. The crazy ever changing scenes and zany and fun characters kept me on the edge of my seat. I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of what can only be described as a wild ride.

The narrator was fantastic and brought the story to life. He expressed all the emotions wonderfully. He did different voices for for all the characters that were all pleasant. His female voices were very convincing. This was a pleasure to listen to.
Profile Image for Melissa.
1,197 reviews11 followers
March 24, 2020
Such a unique book. The descriptive words used in this book let you vividly picture the characters as well as the setting. The characters (while many) are well developed and bring the story to life.
Profile Image for Books That Burn.
251 reviews9 followers
September 30, 2020
*I received a free review copy in exchange for an honest review of this book.

Winter Masquerade is a bizarre and wonderful fever dream of a story, a magical mystery tale running on dream logic, punctuated by nightmares; speaking slantwise of slowly coming out from gaslighting, falling out of love, perhaps realizing it was never love at all.

It conveys how it feels to slowly realize that everything is wrong, that it's okay to not be okay, and how hard it can be to try and make a change. This runs on witty banter and dream logic; that's a style which I specifically enjoy, and this is a particularly concentrated version of that type. The story has a recognizable kind of structure, a narrative style which mimics how dreams feel when you try to remember them; the pieces connected so beautifully while you were asleep, but upon waking they feel disparate and discordant. This mimics how it can feel to realize that things are a little bit wrong, a little bit broken. That maybe what you thought was “good enough” is actually neither “enough” nor “good”. That air of wrongness permeates this fantasy, hinting towards the reality which undergirds it. It gradually becomes more overt as the MC strains to figure out how to feel and what to do about it when this dream finally ends.

CW for graphic violence, domestic abuse, and drug use.
1,606 reviews3 followers
October 19, 2021
Ferris wakes up in a different world. Nothing makes sense to him and he wishes to go home. Thus his journey begins to find the only person who can help him return - the alchemist. Only, he's been kidnapped.
Weirdly wonderful, fantastic, full of fantasy and simply magical. Not at all what you'd expect, and honestly I did not know how much I would enjoy this book.
The overall plot development and cast of characters, made for a delightful impression on your imagination.

Well worth adding to your list to read.

**I received a copy of this ARC for my honest feedback.**
Profile Image for ButtonsMom2003.
2,704 reviews13 followers
March 20, 2022
Brilliant audio performance!

This was my first book by this author and this narrator. It took me a bit to get into the story but the audio performance hooked me right from the beginning. Jon Bolitho-Jones did such a fantastic job that Winter Masquerade sounded like it was performed by multiple voice actors.

Fantasy is not usually my first choice of what to read so that probably explains why it took me a little bit to get into the story. I rarely re-read or re-listen to books but the audio for this one is so good that I think I will listen to it again. I’m sure that the second time around I will have a better appreciation for the story as well as enjoy re-listening to a great audio performance.

You can visit this link (https://kevinklehr.com/books-and-stor...) to listen to the first chapter of the audiobook. There is also a video by Jon Bolitho-Jones where he explains how he came up with the different voices for the audiobook.

A copy of this audiobook was provided to me at my request but my review was voluntary and not influenced by the author/narrator.

***Reviewed for Xtreme-Delusions dot com***
1,444 reviews6 followers
February 3, 2022
The description of this book really drew me in and compelled me to request a copy, and I was not disappointed. I don't have the eloquence to succinctly describe the plot (nor would I want to risk any spoilers), so all I will say is that this is one of the most creative, enjoyable, fantastical stories I have read in a long while. I love the allegories that are explored and the way they relate to Ferris' life in the 'real' world. For all the color, amusement and entertainment the story brings, it is also a story of personal growth and development, cleverly disguised as absurdist fantasy. What?! Don't ask. Just read it and enjoy. (And a wink and nod to anyone else who hears 'Bueller' in the back of their mind.😉)

I received a free review copy via StoryOrigin and am voluntarily leaving this honest review.
184 reviews5 followers
February 23, 2020
I honestly have no idea what a good half of this book was about. The writing was interesting enough to keep me going, but it's very trippy. Fans of Alice in Wonderland would probably enjoy it much more than I did, honestly. It feels like 90% of the book was metaphors I didn't understand, but the characters were fun and it wasn't a chore to read.
Profile Image for liza.
211 reviews1 follower
June 10, 2021
cw for domestic violence, emotional abuse/gaslighting, graphic violence, drug use.

This was absolutely the weirdest story I ever read. The summary makes it sound like a fun Alice in Wonderland type nonsensical mystery when it’s actually about the main character, Ferris, realising he’s in an abusive relationship and learning to find himself again.

Ferris wakes up in another dimension in a magical ship on a chocolate sea and quickly makes friends with various eccentric inhabitants. To get home, his new friend say they need to speak to the Alchemist. Except the Alchemist is missing, and the random is a high sea. So they go and find the detective and attempt to solve the mystery of the kidnapped Alchemist. Along the way, Ferris’ friends ask him about his boyfriend, Harris. Every time Ferris starts to talk about Harris, he goes to the ‘dark’ dimension where everyone is different and one of his friends is trying to kill him. It is all absolutely absurd and very much Alice in Wonderland vibes as Ferris goes on this journey of coming out of an abusive relationship, not falling out of love so much as realising you were never in it. I actually enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would and some parts felt like an emotional gut punch. Funny and sweet and hopeful and absolutely not what I expected going into this at all.
Profile Image for Shaz.
864 reviews75 followers
February 2, 2023
When I first started this book I had no idea what to expect. In fact I didn't really know where the story was going on for at least the first third of it, lol. But then the light dawned (finally!) and I started to understand at least what the author was going for.

I'll admit, it's a strange tale. It felt "trippy" but I suspect that's partially what the aim was. The author is taking us on a trip after all. It was an interesting story, the first one I've ever read by this author, to be honest. But after this experience, it probably won't be my last.

I suggest when you read this book you go in with an open mind and let yourself be taken away. Just maybe don't start reading it on a Wednesday. Because nothing good can come of a Wednesday.
Profile Image for RACHEL REED.
941 reviews1 follower
April 20, 2022
This was a short interesting and fun novella.

Absolutely loved the storyline and character development.

The narration was enjoyable as well.

Also, I loved the gorgeous cover and it fit aptly with the theme of the story.

If you like a short cute winter novella, Definitely recommend you give this a go.
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