Reviews by Jessewave

The Male/Male adult themed romance book archive

Desmond and Garrick (Book 1)


Title: Desmond and Garrick (Book 1)
Author: Hayden Thorne
Publisher: Prizm
Buy Link: Buy Link Desmond and Garrick Book One
Genre: LGBTQ Young Adult, Historical, Paranormal
Length: Novel (244 pages / 67,000 words)
Rating:  4.25 stars out of 5

A Guest Review by Cole

Review Summary: A very well written, extremely quirky, and original vampire story that will be a great setup to a series, but is a bit slow as a standalone novel.

BLURB

It’s 1815, just after Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo and Garrick Mortimer is a scholar extraordinaire, an underemployed and starving genius. Desperate, he agrees to sign on as tutor to Desmond Hathaway, the youngest son of a vampire family living in Yorkshire. Desmond, who’s suffering terrible heartbreak caused by another boy’s callous treatment of him in school, rebels against Garrick’s attempts at educating him and does everything he could to chase Garrick away, which proves to be a greater challenge than he first believes.

When Desmond’s older brother returns from Italy for a visit, bringing with him a small group of talentless and self-absorbed poets, his (and Garrick’s) world turns upside-down, mainly when he meets Leigh Blaise Sherbourne, a vampire poet who seems to detest Desmond and also harbors secrets regarding his past. Throw into the mix a desperate mother’s plea for grandchildren, a family-owned torture chamber, a curious cottage-abbey-and-quarter-castle, and a grumpy family magician, and Garrick finds that life in the Hathaway household is a great deal more than he bargained for.

REVIEW

Garrick Mortimer is a scientifically minded gentleman. That is to say his mind is only geared to science. Yet only those who will bow down to scientific masters and pay their dues are ever accepted as the geniuses that they are and make a living locked in their labs. Garricks admits that he is a genius already, and as such, has no need for such horrible business as not studying what he wants to. Yet, he’s starving, and though he’s had several offers to tutor various youths throughout England, he’s turned them all down because he cannot stand company that is not as suited to learning as he is. Yes, Garrick believes that to brow-beat English youths with learning is beneath him, and he would do much better with his time to starve. Yet, after a while he is getting hungrier and hungrier. He can no longer think of excuses to send home for money. Then, like kismet, he receives a letter from Mr. Hathaway – Gentleman Vampire, offering a tutorship position to his young vampire son, who has become restless and difficult after his expulsion from school. This, thinks Garrick, is a prime opportunity. No one has ever made a scientific study of vampires and written a treatise of their account. Therefore, he posts his reply, packs up his books, sends his letter home announcing his new employment, and sets off to his new position. So what if that position affords him food? He is off on a truly important scientific study.

Desmond Hathaway, the youngest son of the Hathaway vampire clan is glum. Prone to flights of fancy and extreme melodrama like all of his brethren, he watches the bloodred sunsets from his favorite tree and pines after his lost love Phillip, who has just written his last letter to Desmond to ask that he please stop writing to him every minute, as he has work to do at school and they are no longer to remain friends, he having mistakenly taken up with a rabblerousing vampire and has now seen the error of his ways. Admittedly, Desmond is heartbroken, thinking Phillip his one true love. Now, all he has to pass the time is watching his sister throw herself off the roof over and over, weeping over her tragic literary heroes and playing with the Judas Chair in the torture room. Apparently his parents are out to torture him, because they have announced that though his older brothers were allowed to follow their fancy into disputably inappropriate vocations, they are going to parent him right. They have hired a scientifically minded fellow to finish his education (even though no vampire ever finishes their education), and give him a healthy dose of logic and discipline. Bemoaning having to learn from a mortal tutor and trying every possible disruption into his studies that any vampire could think of (like how many different places one could hide as a bat), does not get Desmond very far — as all the things that usually send mortals running and screaming make his new tutor Mr. Mortimer exclaim in wonder. There is only one bright spot in the future — his brother is returning home with his cadre of artists and poets and maybe one of them will make him his boyfriend and whisk him away to travel the world writing dreadfully morose prose. Yet, when the group arrives, his brother’s friends frighten him. And one in particular, Mr. Sherbourne, has taken an unnatural interest in him.

You can see, just from the way I’ve described this book, that it is written really, really well. Its incredibly inventive, original, and snarky at the same time. The way vampires are protrayed as creatures at the mercy of their emotions made this vampire tale very different from most. Just the descriptions of the “cottage-abbey-and-quarter-castle” that the Hathaway family is purosefully knocking down so they can live in ruins and the setting of the moors and countryside are enough to set this story on a different course. I won’t go into all of the little details, just to say that they make this story come alive and they are very plentiful. Each page I turned found some new descriptive element of the different way the mortals saw the world to the way the vampires looked at it and all sorts of zany characters. One of the advantages of the writing is that the format actually follows the typical prose of a 19th century novel. To many, this might be a drawback and it certainly slowed the pace of the story considerably, but in an effort of authenticity (though how authentic a story about vampires can be I’m not sure), it was wonderfully written. At the same time, it did make the pace of the story slow. If I hadn’t been able to see how masterfully Hayden Thorne wields words onto the page, I might have gotten a bit bogged down in the excess dialogue in the sitting room and the long descriptive paragraphs. It helps to know these things going into this book, I think. Don’t expect when you pick up this novel that you will be getting a swift and steamy read. It is about a gay character, however it is a YA book rated for teens age 14+. As the genre of this story, it is about teenage angst. Normally, this would drive me batsh*t crazy, but it Desmond is written with such a deft pen and over-the-top dark humor, that I ended up loving to read about it. Also, and this was my fault, but despite the glaring 1 on the cover of the book, I actually didn’t realize that this was the start of a series until I started getting along in the story and wondering why not much was happening. With that said, I am very much looking forward to the characters. Not only do I want to know what happens in the story, but I’ve found myself really caring about the characters (grating though these vampires can be on the nerves after 200+ pages).

I don’t think this series is for everyone, although my opinion might change after reading the sequels. If you truly enjoy historical novels, that is, not novels only set in the past, but the actual format of a historical novel you might love this book. If you like or can force yourself into a slower pace, then the wonderfully set-up world in this book will grab you and pull you in. I still have mixed feelings about this story. On the one hand, I often had to put this story down because the emotionally unbalanced vampires started to wear on my nerves, but I always went back after a little break. The amazing writing and the characters themselves, however difficult to deal with, were so entertaining. This is definitely a story that you will either love or hate. So please, in the interest of deciding if this one is for you, comment if you’re unsure and tell me why and I’ll let you know what I think. Or, to get a taste of the prose and its unique style, try reading the excerpt on the publisher’s website. For those of you who have read this story, please let me know what you’ve thought. More than most reviews I write, I really want to know how my opinion fares to other readers on this one.

**On a sidenote, props to the cover artist. This is one of the best book covers I’ve see in a long time**

Author

26, male, gay, baker, knitter, sometimes writer, and voracious reader of all things | contact me: cole.riann[at]gmail.com

46 comments

  • Oh, now that Hayden made things clearer – I’ll wait for the second book to come out before I commit myself to this story. I tried to read Masks and, while I recognized the good things immediately, it just was too YA for me – does that make any sense? I know this one is classified as YA as well, but it seems like something that would appeal more to me. I think you sold the story to me with this: watching his sister throw herself off the roof over and over, weeping over her tragic literary heroes and playing with the Judas Chair in the torture room. LOL!

    • Oh, it is full of stuff like that! What I thought was great about it was, if you take the responsibility off of the teen for being emo all the time because they actually can’t help but be that way, and then make it funny instead, you get this mockery of teens who act like they want to slit their wrists all the time because its cool. It was so hilarious.

      Its probably a good idea to wait for the second novel just so you can read the second story right after finishing the first…

      Thanks LadyM!

  • Once again a really wonderful review Cole. You always manage to hit on all the relevant points to either intrigue the reader or explain why the book might not work for them. I probably wouldn’t have noticed this one if not for your review. I will definitely add it to my list. Thanks Cole!

    • Thank you Tj! That means a lot to me, sometimes I look at how wonderful everyone else’s reviews are written and think that I tend to get too verbose about certain things :) Oh well. If I wrote about all the little points that I take notes on (since I end up writing 100 word sentences) we’d be here all day :)

      Thanks Tj, you made my day. And you made me a poet, see?

  • Hi Cole:

    I fell in love with the cover a while ago and have been hoping the contents matched that quirky elegance. Oh this is going to be fun! Snarky, gothic, historical is exactly what this girl needs for a rainy January. And thank you for presenting such a lovely and lively review. I got a great sense of the characters and hints of the situations ahead.

    • Hi Cally!

      Thank you so much. I was hoping that describing the story that way would show what both Desmond and Garrick were like :)

      I hope you enjoy it!

  • Hi Cole, thanks for another fine review! I love a good vampire story – but there are so many variations it’s good to have a clear impression of the overall theme. This one sounds really interesting, plus I read The Glass Minstrel and really enjoyed it.

    • Hi Dianne! I really want to read The Glass Minstrel. I remember reading the review and thinking how good it sounded. I haven’t read any other works by Hayden Thorne, but I would bet if you liked the style of writing in that book then you’ll probably enjoy it here.

      Yeah, I think its really important in this case to give people a hint about exactly what kind of vampire story this is, otherwise people will go in expecting the typical fare, when really, this is almost a study of the species themselves since so much of the story comes from Garrick’s POV.

      I hope you like it Dianne :) BTW, what a cute dog! Is he yours???

      • Hey Cole,
        Spent a great part of today snug inside reading this one. I loved it :-) Wonderful writing style, very witty and yes – saucy – which of course really lends itself to the characters, especially Desmond. At times the descriptives got to be just a bit lengthy for me, but in general I really enjoyed how the author created a very vivid picture of both the characters and their surroundings. Glad I read your review and some of the posts before reading the story, so I was expecting this enjoyable, unique presentation of vamp life, and also a cliffhanger 😉 I must say though, that I read the last page 3 times and am still a bit puzzled as to Desmond’s exact state of mind?!?! But then he seemed puzzled himself! Really looking forward to part 2.

        ” what a cute dog! Is he yours???”
        Thanks! Yep, that’s Lyric, she is my constant companion and social butterfly.

        • Lyric! What a cute name for a cute dog. She looks like she just can’t wait to jump up and lick your face :)

          I know exactly what you mean about the cliffhanger! I was ready to beat Desmond over the head :) But I suppose that was just a setup to keep us wanting, we’ll have to wait for the second half of the story to find out how he really reacts. Although I’m ready for both Desmond and Garrick to get their heads out of their asses and see that they’re perfect for each other :)

          I’m so glad you liked it!

  • Thank you for this wonderful review about a fantastic book. I am such a lucky girl that I won a copy of this book on this site. I fell in love with the characters and the writing style after reading the first few lines. What an intelligent parody of the gothic novels of the early 19th century! Garrick is such an adorable dork and Desmond is just heartbreakingly beautiful in his suffering and funny at the same time. And I love how wonderfully fleshed out the other characters were – even the very annoying ones. ;)It really is like watching a historical movie with lots of British humor. I can’t wait to see how the story continues. I will enjoy re-reading it just before the second part comes out in the middle of the year.
    Big thanks to Hayden for the lovely book and to you for doing it justice with your review,
    Anja

    • Thank you Anja! I’m glad to see that we had a similar opinion about the book, I liked it so much. And I can’t wait to find out what happens in the other half of the story, yay!

      Thanks again Anja :)

  • Hi Cole, thanks for the great review. You know, I love this writer and funny, I got the book in the mail the day I saw your review. I wanted to wait till I am done with the book, but I just want to say that I am loving this one so far. LOVE historical style, I definitely agree with you, it reads as 19 century written novels. I am reminded of my beloved War and Peace hehe (I am talking style wise, please do not be scared people it is NOT nearly as long as War and Peace) and I love the characters and the subtle humor, just love everything about this one so far.

    • I am reminded of my beloved War and Peace hehe (I am talking style wise, please do not be scared people it is NOT nearly as long as War and Peace)

      Sirius, it seems we love the same books! Not only this one, and Harry Potter (which I only assumed from your email, lol), but War and Peace is my all-time favorite book. I read it every year in November (because that was the time of year I first read it) and I’ve read it three times now. It is such an amazing epic story and has the absolute best journey of a character in all literature (Petya/Pierre). I was so happy to hear how much you love it too :) I hardly ever tell people that War and Peace is my favorite book because I’m always afraid people will think I’m bragging, lol.

      If you can remember, please come back when you’ve finished this one, I’d love to hear what you think of the book when you finish it!

      • OMG Cole while I met few people who read (and liked) War and Peace, you are the first person ever I am meeting outside of my culture who actually rereads it. Yay. Always good to hear from somebody who likes this book. I reread it every year too.

        And yes, Harry Potter was the reason I got online and actually started talking (and talking and talking, goodness knows for how long I discussed these books :))

        I loved Desmond and Garrick LOVED, LOVED. The humor, the metaphors, the characters, everything.

        The only thing I did not like was the ending. Cliffhangers annoy me A LOT.

        • Yay! A fellow War and Peace fan! Maybe we can get together sometime online and read it together and have a discussion!! I would love that :) If you want to, sometime, please email me cole.riann(at)gmail.com

          Sorry for not replying right away. Stupid WordPress didn’t tell me that you’d replied and then it was only today when you commented on Aisling that I thought, oh yeah, I wonder if Sirius replied to my comment :)

          HP was the reason I started getting on blogs and fansites and talking at first too, from the release of OoTP to about a month after DH came out, I was online everyday reading and talking! I love HP so much, its also something I read and reread over and over again. It holds a really special place in my heart.

          Now, about Desmond and Garrick, lol. I loved it as well, and I’m glad you do too, but I know EXACTLY what you mean about the cliffhanger! I understand it more now, that Hayden commented above that it was one long book that got broken into two parts. It makes sense, but it still makes me wish I had them both to read back to back :)

  • Eh actually I will e-mail you right after I will finish typing this comment :), really want to ask you Harry Potter question :).

    I actually misread the last sentence in the ending lol, so I thought it a bit more cliffhangerISH than it really was (hides away), Just substitute waist for NECK and you will get what I read lolol. Do not ask me why, I have no idea.

    • Lol, I do that a lot. Its like your brain is inserting what it expects or wants before you actually read the word. Thats hilarious :)

      I got your email, so now we can talk about HP and Tolstoy where everyone else doesn’t have to read it :)

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