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Glitterland by Alexis Hall

Glitterland “I would have written myself into his skin if only I could, like a prisoner marking the walls of his cell, just to prove I was still alive and that I did not drift, untouching and untouched, through a universe of empty spaces and fading stars.”

I’ve never started a review with a quote before, but I just love this one so much. I mean, look at it. It’s beautiful. The sentiment is gorgeous, so romantic but at the same time so very lonely. But it’s written so that it doesn’t feel overly sappy. And the sentence structure (I know I’m geeking out here, but…) It just flows so beautifully, it fits in your mouth and your eyes and your brain. It just sounds so good.

And the whole of the book is like this.

When I first came across ‘Glitterland,’ I pretty much put it on the don’t‐care‐to‐read‐it list. I mean… the title (I actually really like the title, but when I first saw it, it… made me think of fluff. I am so sorry.) And the cover. It has a very attractive but very SPARKLY man on it. (Updates‐ The book has a new cover, and... I actually feel a bit nostalgic for the old one now. But Alexis Hall, the author, has said the guy on the old cover wasn’t ‘his’ Darian, so I’m inclined to lean towards the new cover.) And the synopsis‐ a depressed writer, Ash, slowly begins to fall in love with Darian, a man who’s sweet and caring but not overly clever. It just screams romantic comedy, not anything serious or deep.

But it is serious and deep. Startlingly, shockingly, gorgeously deep.

Ash is bipolar. Now, I’ve read a few books about people being depressed, but only very rarely does anyone come close to what feels like getting it right. Alexis Hall gets there. He writes about Ash’s depression, which, as a reader, we live through, and his manic upswings, which are told in back story, in a way that’s blunt and honest and frightening and so very, very real. You sink into that grayness with Ash. You feel his fear and his insecurity as something tangible and immediate. And when Darian starts to pull him out of it, or in a different direction from it, or just joins him in it, you feel that too.

Of course, since I loved this book, you know I loved the characters, because that’s always the heart of a story for me. And these characters are great. Not only Ash and Darian, but even the minor characters are fully fleshed out, even though they don’t have big roles. Even better, the relationships between characters are great. While Ash is struggling with his feelings for Darian, he’s also trying to sort out the relationships he has with his two best friends, including one romantic entanglement that was never fully closed. And instead of being gimmicky or a plot‐filler, it just gives so much insight into Ash and his heart and his mind. And I should mention, too, that although Darian comes across as a bit of a shallow man at first, this feeling doesn’t last long. And although he isn’t what could be considered traditionally intelligent, or, more, sophisticated, he was a character that I felt was rich with emotion and thought‐ he was smart and insightful in many ways, and I loved him.

But the best thing about this book is how the writing is so fantastic. It’s gorgeous‐ like the line above, there is some supremely beautiful prose here, stuff I never expected to find when I first started reading the book. It’s clear that Alexis Hall is magnificently talented at putting words together in a way that’s lush and wonderful. But more than that, he never asks the words to stand alone. They support his characters and come together to create a simple but multi‐layered plot, and the beautiful way he writes only complements that, never gets in the way of it. And the magic way he puts words together is carried into the magic way he puts scenes together, the way he blends sadness and humor. There are a lot of funny bits in this book, one‐liners and sections that make you laugh out loud, and that is really the sweet to the sour of Ash’s depression, balancing everything and making both the gentle, funny, lovely parts and the difficult, scary, hurting parts pop so much more.

I loved this book. I haven’t come across this much talent in a long time, and it was hiding, really. But I’m so, so glad I found it.

(Also, Alexis Hall wrote an… extra, I suppose, called ‘Glitterland: Aftermath,’ which is fantastic, as well. You don’t need it as an ending, since it’s not really an ending, just an addition, but it is a truly excellent, although short, read. And it’s free right now, too. So, you know. Get it.)   -SEL
You can purchase 'Glitterland' from Riptide Publishing: Riptide
And you can get 'Glitterland: Aftermath' there, too: Riptide

More HfC reviews on books by Alexis Hall: For Real
Scroll down for ‘Waiting for the Flood.’

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