4 Stars, Hayden Thorne, Holiday Romance, JMS Books LLC, Paranormal, Queerteen Press, Reviewed by Jennifer, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Young Adult

Review: Desmond and Garrick (Book One) by Hayden Thorne

Title: Desmond and Garrick (Book One)

Author: Hayden Thorne

Publisher: Queerteen Press/JMS Books

Pages/Word Count: 226 Pages

At a Glance: Another fantastic historical YA fantasy from Hayden Thorne.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: It’s 1815. Garrick Mortimer is a scholar extraordinaire, an underemployed and starving genius, who agrees to sign on as tutor to Desmond Hathaway, the youngest son of a vampire family living in Yorkshire. Desmond, heartbroken 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 thought.

When Desmond’s older brother returns from Italy for a visit and brings with him a small group of talentless and self-absorbed poets, life in Dryden Abbey turns upside-down, mainly when Desmond meets Leigh Blaise Sherbourne, a sullen vampire poet.

Throw into the mix a desperate mother’s plea for grandchildren, a family-owned torture chamber, a cottage-abbey-and-quarter-castle, and a grumpy family magician, and Garrick finds life in the Hathaway household to be a great deal more than he bargained for.

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Review: Hayden Thorne knows how to write historical YA, and historical fantasy YA, so when I had the opportunity to read Desmond and Garrick I was thrilled. First of all, it has a similarly haunting cover of some old building. Without even reading the blurb, I knew the house would play some interesting part in the story, and it did.

The first of a series (at least one other book is out, or soon to be out), Desmond and Garrick focuses on a vampire family and their young son, Desmond, who has been sent out of human schools for “provoking” human boys, like pretty much every young vampire has done. Desperate to change him and get him to settle down, his parents send for a human tutor and find Garrick, a brilliant scholar who detests teaching. But, the idea of working with vampires and learning about their species intrigues him.

What follows is a story as both teacher and pupil grow. Their growth may not necessarily be because of each other, but changes take place. Garrick is drawn more towards tutoring Desmond’s talented younger sister, who shows more promise than Desmond. And Desmond, attempting to get over the human boy he loved and lost, finds himself face to face with his older brother’s friend, Leigh Sherbourne, a vampire poet who both intrigues and repulses Desmond.

Like the author’s other YA books, there is very little romance, and what is there is incredibly slow to start, but also, like the other books, that’s okay. There’s more to this than the romance. Instead, you’ll be drawn to watching the vampire children (who act much younger than fifteen and sixteen) throwing themselves off the top of their home, locking themselves in the torture chamber’s various devices, watching vampire parents adding graveyards and collapsed walls to their cottage-abbey-and-quarter-castle home.

I look forward to the next book, because this one leaves off in spot that suggests this would work well as one long book rather than two (or more) parts of one story.

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You can buy Desmond and Garrick here:

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4 Stars, Hayden Thorne, Queerteen Press, Reviewed by Jennifer, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Young Adult

Review: Wollstone by Hayden Thorne

Title: Wollstone

Author: Hayden Thorne

Publisher: Queerteen Press (JMS Books)

Pages/Word Count: 236 Pages

At a Glance: Beautiful descriptions in what feels like a timeless setting, but a little slow paced for me.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: The moment Emil Gogean sets foot inside Wollstone Academy’s fairy tale-like campus, he realizes his freshman year in high school is bound to be a very strange one. The school itself, a uniquely romanticized boarding school for boys, boasts remarkable elements that appear to be deliberate — as though a hidden power has chosen woodland details, a chapel ruin, and school masters who seem to hearken back to a long-gone age, with a clear purpose in mind.

When strange things begin to happen to Emil, an unnerving warning from his late grandmother returns to haunt him. A warning about Emil attracting the attention of the king of the dead.

Strange faces in wood patterns and mullioned windows. The apparition of a boy among the trees. The unfathomable feeling of sadness permeating the idyllic environment. Emil gradually learns that Wollstone is more than just a school, that the answers to a three-hundred-year-old mystery surrounding a tragic romance lie in the ruined stones of a small chapel and in Nature itself. And that Emil, whose appearance in school has set certain wheels in motion, will have to place himself at the mercy of three mysterious students if he wishes to learn the truth about Wollstone, the boy lost in the woods, and himself.

Dividers

Review: If there is an author who writes more beautiful descriptions of a setting, I would be hard-pressed to find them. I had known of Hayden Thorne for several years before finally having the opportunity to sit down and read one of the author’s novels. Wollstone is a beautifully descriptive novel of an all boys school in the middle of a woodland.

It’s clear that this author excels at setting. Everything is so vivid I felt as if I were there with Emil on campus, following him as he wandered the paths, found the chapel, and explored the woods. I often found myself sighing, wishing a place like that existed for me to explore. Especially the ruined chapel on the school grounds. How amazing would it be to have something like that to explore?

That said, I did have difficulty with some of the novel. It is slower paced, which isn’t a bad thing, but it’s not what I’m used to. I’m used to teen novels that have a faster pace to the plot. Thorne does not rush and lets the story unfold slowly. Sometimes a little too slowly, though it also invokes a timeless quality. There were several times when I forgot exactly when the story took place. It’s supposed to be the present, I think, but at the same time I felt as if I were in the fifties, or sometime else entirely. It could have been the descriptions of the uniforms and the attitude of the teachers, but that’s the effect it gave. And given the surroundings of the school, I think that was the author’s intent.

While I liked the characters, at times I struggled with the dialogue, which there isn’t much of. Emil is often alone—which is fine, I like characters who are introspective or loners—but he talks to himself a lot. There were times when he was muttering or saying things in situations where I felt that it just seemed strange for a fifteen-year-old boy to be saying or doing. That said, things also aren’t always what they appear. As the story progressed it did start to make sense to me, but it wasn’t until about halfway through the book that I caught on to things. I won’t give away more than that, because I don’t want to ruin anything, but the details are slowly revealed if you pay attention to everything, from Emil’s thoughts of his grandmother to the books he reads. However, some of the other characters also had similar dialogue that to me felt dated. As a teacher, I raised my eyebrow at some of their choice phrases, as I’ve never heard any of my boys say anything like Emil, Jamie, Victor, or the other boys. But, that could have also been the author’s choice to keep teenage vulgarities out of the writing.

That said, I did enjoy the novel. It was slow moving, but it brought me to a different time and place. I was transported onto a beautiful campus I wish I was a part of. Also, the cover? Absolutely gorgeous. Not that it influenced me or anything, but it’s exactly how I pictured the chapel to be. Whoever did the cover got it perfect.

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