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: Β 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**

Sirius
5 years 8 months ago

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.

Sirius
5 years 8 months ago
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… Read more »
Anja
5 years 8 months ago
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… Read more »
Dianne T.
Dianne T.
5 years 8 months ago

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.

Cally
Cally
5 years 8 months ago

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.

Tj
5 years 8 months ago

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!

LadyM
5 years 8 months ago
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… Read more »
Hayden
5 years 8 months ago

LOL! There are only two books in this series. Actually, it’s only one long story that got cut into two because of my publisher’s length requirements. I think the bad poetry derailed me completely (there’s a story behind the awful poems, by the bye, but I’d rather cut my losses now and bow out gracefully before I shame myself further).

Dangle the carrot, I say! And thanks for the review, Cole, I really appreciate it. πŸ™‚

lisa s c
lisa s c
5 years 8 months ago

Alright you got me. I want the whole thing at one time : ) When can we expect the second part to come out? Sounds great Hayden I really am looking forward to reading it! Thanks.

Hayden
5 years 8 months ago

Hi Lisa, I’m guessing around the summer this year, though I’m hoping that it’ll be earlier. πŸ™‚ Thanks for the interest!

Luci
Luci
5 years 8 months ago

Hmm, I like YA books so this sounds interesting. Funny, when I fist saw the book it held no interest, but now I don’t know anyomore. Thing is I’m not too fond of series, 2-3 books is fine, but more than that is not my thing.

Helena
Helena
5 years 8 months ago

Thank you for the review πŸ™‚
Although not interesed in the book itself I like to read about everything that is being published and for the looks of it, this one is a good one.

Jennifer
5 years 8 months ago

Thanks for the review Cole. This book looked really good and I’m glad it seems to live up to it. Haven’t read a historical in a while. I can deal with a slower pace if there’s more books to come. This will definitely be bought this weekend.

Pea
Pea
5 years 8 months ago

Oh, how I dearly love snarky-toned historical stories. I passed this one up last month but your detailed description makes me want to go and read it immediately. In fact, I think I will. Thanks!

Lily
5 years 8 months ago

Wonderful review, Cole! I don’t normally read YA and Historicals aren’t my favorite either but I must admit this sounds interesting.

I’ll keep it in mind and perhaps down the road when more books in the series are out I’ll give a try. πŸ™‚

lisa s c
lisa s c
5 years 8 months ago

Hi Cole, great review. I haven’t read any books by this authore, but I’ve thought about it. I love vampires and the writing and character development sounds great. I enjoy series. What do you mean by written in the format of a historical? I’m very tempted to get this. Thanks

Larissa
Larissa
5 years 8 months ago

Now you got me really interested in this book. When I first saw the cover it reminded me of Sweeney Todd for some reason. I didn’t really know what to make of the blurb, but your review convinced me! It’s on the list.

I really need some time on a desert island to read all the books that are on there! πŸ˜‰

SusieQ
SusieQ
5 years 8 months ago

Cole, you know I think you’re an absolute sweetie, and you write awesome reviews…but I really think I must stop reading them. “Why”, you may ask “what have I done?” The truth is, hon, everytime I read one of your reviews, my “to buy” list grows, even if I’d already considered the book and decided it didn’t interest me! I’m going to need a second job soon!!
πŸ˜‰
Another very well written review, Cole, wonderful job!!

TCBlue
5 years 8 months ago
Hmmm… correct me if I’m wrong, dearest, but it sounds as though you’re saying this book is establishing the dround-rules (of a sort) for the rest of the series and thus may suffer slightly in pace due to the world-building? (That’s what I got from part of the review, in any case, but God knows I’ve been wrong before. LOL) I don’t generally read anything M/M with even the vaguest whiff of ‘historical’ about it, to be honest. Things that are meant to take place back in the 70s are about as far as I’ll go. However, I do tend… Read more »
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