Edward Cullen is damn intriguing. If you peel away Bella’s fluffy, love-colored descriptions, her accounts his mannerisms and actions or conversations what do we know about him besides the obvious? He’s smart, loyal, observant, over protective, a gentleman almost to a fault, and an object of affection and obsession, not to mention a reluctant and repressed immortal, and quite possibly the most conflicted vampire in literature, YA or otherwise, since Anne Rice’s, Louis de Pointe du Lac. Outside of the unpublished Midnight Sun, he’s not been given a voice or perspective so his thoughts, emotions and the true nature of his character is stuck in a two dimensional mystery that leaves us to our own imaginations, save for the fanfic authors who dare to crawl into the complicated psyche of our beloved.
Author Edward A Masen, does in My Lost Youth, what very few fanfic authors have been able to achieve. She gives our tortured and reluctant hero a believable, honest voice and presents his story with such reverence and simplicity that allows you to imagine that the story she’s telling is his own. Blondie, author of Dark Side of the Moon, an incredible retooling of the New Moon from Edward’s POV, First Light and a string of other one shots and multi-chapter EPOV works, has been captain of the Mother Ship regarding all things canon and EPOV for as long as I’ve been reading fanfic. Others have tried and have hit a brick wall, unable to capture the right balance of
The story spans the period of time from 1911 to 1934, and although it doesn’t present in chronological order, it smartly drifts between time periods without hiding behind the use of flashbacks or conversations of remembrance. It reads more like a series of one shots as opposed to a multi-chapter story, but it remains surprisingly fluid and cohesive. It’s a format that isn’t common in fanfic and yet in this case, it lends itself to provide a peek into the human life and death of Edward Masen, the dawn of his immortal existence, and the difficult adjustment he suffers as a Cullen. The unpredictability of the timeline makes for a great surprise in that you never know what slice of his past Edward might be sharing in the next update.
My Lost Youth is a fantastic series of vignettes that about Edward, how he came to be, and the loyalty that was forged when he was Carlisle’s sole companion. You learn about his time as a newborn, his disturbing discovery of his new abilities and his heartbreaking struggle to remember much less hold on to his humanity. He fights to maintain his human memories and is especially desperate to hang on to his mother. His gifts make it possible for him to tell Esme and Carlisle’s story, as he’s seen their shared memories about the first time they met and eventually how she came to be part of the family.
Edward A Masen shows you the initial fear and anger in Edward’s loss, resentment and eventual resignation for what he’s become from the perspective of a confused 17 year old kid who misses his mother rather than the century old character we know so well. Then the voice of a 20 year old vamp that is so consumed with shame, guilt and regret that he’s very nearly unable to function. The passage of time and the different voice and tone will be easily recognized as Edward’s but from a time and place has been unavailable to the readers before. She writes a plausible evolution of Edward, the controlled, self-loathing vampire we all know and love. She shows you the rise of the teacher, healer and Patriarchal Carlisle, and the unconventional family that is born of his compassion shape Edward in ways that may surprise you.
The purist in me begs that at least the heart of the story, regardless of genre has a nugget of canon – at least one recognizable piece of these characters that we all adore – and My Lost Youth has it in spades. It’s easy to accept the narration as his absolute truth and history makes it a good read. The intelligence and care that Edward A Masen takes in her approach makes it beyond good, it makes it great.
Stories that dare to fill in the blanks or flesh out a history that has only been superficially explained, or even fics that tell a back story or provide a new perspective on a favorite scene or chapter are the most difficult to do, much less do well. In My Lost Youth, Edward A Masen provides a perfect little glimpse behind the Twilight curtain and the pre-Bella life, death and rebirth of Edward. It’s a gem that deserves way more love than its getting.
Earlier this year, the story was chosen as story of the month on Twilighters Anonymous, for the month of May, but despite the honor, and attention it still continues to twist in the wind. Currently there are only 127 reviews on Twilighted and a paltry 45 on Fanfic.net. It’s too good not to be heaped with praise and deserves a much higher review count than is recorded. Good stories that are rated PG13 are getting lost in the sexual-fanfic-revolution trend that seems to have gripped the fic communities this summer. PG13 shouldn’t be the death sentence that a lot of great stories are being served, and My Lost Youth is too good to suffer that fate. Give it a chance, let Edward tell you his story and show this deserving author some love.
Texbelle is the author of the AU-Human, Restoration and Bella’s Hope, winner of the Twilighted – Breaking Dawn Missing Moments, “Hope” category, and is a validation beta on staff at Twilighted.net. She juggles a full time job as an event planner and consultant, her work on Twilighted, writing her own story and family and friends, and she is also the co-owner of WeBook Apparel.