Life in medieval Venice was not easy even for the rich and powerful. Wars, disease and horrifying epidemics touched the lives of everyone in the Republic. But if you were the despised son of a brutal butcher, then life was bitter indeed. Rosso stood out not only because of his red hair, but also because of the punishments meted out to him by his father. Everyone in the impoverished village where he lived knew that Rosso's parents treated him appallingly. Yet apart from a little Franciscan priest, none of them found the courage to help him. Rosso learned a great deal about suffering and torment in his early years. But one day his brother went too far and Rosso found himself on the verge of killing him. Instead, he ran away from home to join other homeless youths on the highways of Italy. That's when his luck changed. Gino and the Dom might have been poor, but they had generous hearts and steered Rosso away from his brooding resentment to a path which led to a brighter future. After many adventures, a bloody battle, friendships made and friendships lost, he took the road to Rome to try his hand at being a monk. There, in a market place, Rosso bumped into little Clare, a destitute orphan, and from that point on their two lives became inextricably entwined. A mysterious mission from the Vatican led him to Paris to meet Cardinal Villeprieux. Along the way he found himself embroiled in plots and schemes, and the journey to Paris was full of dangers and surprises. Finally one mystery was solved. Who was Clare's father? Rosso is an adventure story. It shows how redemption and hope can be found in the most unlikely looking people and the most unexpected places. Suffering may have been seared into the boy's early life, yet the love of friends and his own innate goodness help him to help others find meaning and direction in their lives too.
Rosso by Duncan Jefferson was published by Pegasusbooks in October 2015. The ISBN for Rosso is 9781941859377.