Review: Glitterland by Alexis Hall01:38
Author: Alexis Hall
Date of publication: 26 Aug 2013
Genre: M/M romance
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My rating: 5 Stars
The universe is a glitterball I hold in the palm of my hand.
Once the golden boy of the English literary scene, now a clinically depressed writer of pulp crime fiction, Ash Winters has given up on love, hope, happiness, and—most of all—himself. He lives his life between the cycles of his illness, haunted by the ghosts of other people’s expectations.
Then a chance encounter at a stag party throws him into the arms of Essex boy Darian Taylor, an aspiring model who lives in a world of hair gel, fake tans, and fashion shows. By his own admission, Darian isn’t the crispest lettuce in the fridge, but he cooks a mean cottage pie and makes Ash laugh, reminding him of what it’s like to step beyond the boundaries of anxiety.
But Ash has been living in his own shadow for so long that he can’t see past the glitter to the light. Can a man who doesn’t trust himself ever trust in happiness? And how can a man who doesn’t believe in happiness ever fight for his own?
I have the hardest time reviewing books that I really love. And this is definitely one of them. I also made the mistake a reading all the info on the book Mr. Hall has shared on his website, together with the blog tour posts and all this additional insight into the story of Ash and Darian just made me love it more and further complicated my efforts to write a constructive review.
It's Mr. Hall's debut novel, a fabulous m/m romance beautiful and skillfully told. I'm alrady a big fan of his writing style (I read Prosperity before this one) this story stole my heart.
The story of Ash and Darian is moving and real without being melodramatic. It's told solely from Ash's POV and his voice is dark and pained but also captivating in its honesty and rawness. He is a bipolar depressive writer and his illness/issues affect everything he does. The story shows his journey to accepting that he is allowed to search for happiness. It's scary how much I could relate to some of his thoughts and fears (and I thought I was a well-adjusted and optimistic person). He is not a nice guy and it's not just because of his illness, it's beacuse of his life, I think. At the same time, there is so much vulnerablity to him. Very much like Milord in Prosperity, Mr. Hall has managed to make me care deeply and sympathise with the villan/bad guy in the story. Though, unlike Milord, I think Ash mostly is lost and he hurts the others mostly without meaning to do it, though he also has his moments of cruelty.
Darian, oh Darian! He is unqiue, flamboyant, full of life, hope, a total opposite to Ash. There is a strong emphasis throughout the story of how different Ash and Darian are, yet they compelent each other perfectly. I do not really belive that opposites attract and I think that two people need to have a common ground in order to make a relationshop work. Yet, Ash and Darian manage to be happy together despite their difference. Ash admires Darian for his lack of inhibitions, his fearlessness, his desire to live life to the fullest. He is in way what Ash wants to be.
I loved Niall and even though he was all wrong for Ash and see him as an overall good guy who is quite unlucky in love. The romantic in me beleive, even though it was not explicitly stated in the book, that finally he got his love reciprocated with the most handsome guy he met in the bar.
The book ends with a HFN ending, which absolutely fits Ash and Darian. There is a follow-up short story, which the author insists is not an Epilogue, but more of completion of Ash and Darian coming together coupled with some passionate sexy times. Glitterland: Aftermath is availabe for free on the Riptide site.
Overall, I'd recommend this book to anyone who loves a good romantic story beautifully told. There is a lot of emotion, some drama and some angst and a ton of glitter to counter Ash's dark thoughts. One of the best books of the year for me, but I'm partial since I absolutely love everythign Alexis Hall writes.