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?
Review: Readers discover books in a number of ways. For some, it is an attractive book cover or a familiar author’s name. With Glitterland, it was the blurb that piqued my interest.
Author Alexis Hall introduces Ash Winters as a published author suffering from clinical depression. The depiction of this man as a broken character was masterfully crafted. Not only does he have physical scars, but his emotional ones are quite visible among all the angst.
Although this is a GLBT story focusing on two male characters, the m/m aspect takes a backseat to the overwhelming sense of misery and despair that permeates Ash’s daily life. That darkness proves to be an interesting contrast to the light surrounding Darian Taylor. Whether it is his all-too-real Essex accent or his genuine sense of flamboyance that demonstrates the difference between these two characters, the author succeeded in bringing Darian to life.
One of the most striking things to me about the story is the quality of the writing. Hall proves to be quite an effective wordsmith, taking what typically might be referred to as “gay erotica” and turning it into a solid piece of literary fiction.
Another example of the contrast in characters is delivered courtesy of the author’s British roots. While Ash is the epitome of the sophisticated upper class, Darian comes along like a breath of fresh air, complete with a fake tan and an accent that is rivaled only by a Bronx native.
The end result propels Glitterland to the top of my keeper list. While it may not be in a genre I would normally read, the experience was well worth it. I was also pleased to find a short sequel available as a free download from the publisher.
Packed with raw emotional intensity, the author not only blazes new ground with a non-traditional storyline, but he leaves the reader eager to see what he will write next.