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Glitterland by Alexis Hall

October 12, 2013


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?

My Review:

They say the longer you know someone, the more beautiful they become. That is me with this cover. Sure I was put off by it slightly, but almost committed a faux paus and dismissed it based solely on the cover. Okay, you can lock me in a basement and line up to flog me for that but now, now that I have spent time amongst the gorgeous prose that flows effortlessly of the page…this cover is stunning. It’s everything that this story is and more. This story…oh where do I even begin?

Let me start with the beginning; who begins a book this way? The first words come off the page like poetry, like performance poetry. You feel the intensity, the manic and the panic of the immediate exit that has to happen, but who writes something that could be considered a walk of shame and turns it into beauty?

Half dressed, everything else bundled in my arms, I ease open the door, dark spilling into dark and, like Orpheus, I’m looking back. The shadows move across his face, but he doesn’t stir. He sleeps the perfect, heedless sleep of children, drunkards and fools.

Yeah, that last line had me. It hit me straight in the gut and told me there would never be another book like this one. That I would never be the same after reading it and I would feel the loss of not reading it sooner.

A.A. Winters, aka Ash, is one hell of a complicated character and not just because he is mental. His being mental is why I adore him. Never have I read a character with depression written so accurately, so true to what it can do to a person. I felt it with Ash, the anxiety, the unexplainable sad and the try to do the simplest of things and not let down those who around you or even yourself even when you are just too damn depressed to do anything or even care about it.

With light catching epaulettes in a dark bar, Ash meets the most unlikely man in the form of Darian Taylor, to not only chat up but to take home for the night.

“Come on then, Essex.” I said. “Get your coat. You’ve pulled.”

From this moment we begin the intensifying journey into the mind of Ash Winters muddling along with day to day life, work and now this creature who was supposed to be a one night stand…that never left. As I said, his mental state is beautifully written. The simplicity of his madness is gorgeous… hunjed pahcent gorgeous, babes. I am one who loves the beauty in the dark. The roads taken, either diverged in the woods or to hospital, the roads we travel down to find that balance between the dark and the light; of who we are, who we see when we look in the mirror and that reflection of ourselves we get off those we care for. That is what this book is to me right now. It’s this huge glaring glitter ball hanging over my head, forcing me to look not only inside the story but inside myself. THAT is what I love about reading. The challenge to not only understand but to think! To make you think outside the box, outside the pages and see what is there, what was there all along and the things, the people you never thought could be there. Maybe even never wanted to be. *must take deep breaths*

At first, gratitude felt like love. Now it felt like swallowing razor blades. Pride, like happiness, was something a madman could ill afford.

One would think that Ash would be the voice of eloquence; the published author who spouts quotes the likes of Shakespeare, Barthes etc.; but it’s Darian, the upholder of the good, the bright bauble in the darkness that is Ash who gives us the beautiful, absurd, hilarious, simplistic and truest form of lyricism. I loved reading Darian. The accent was brilliantly done; I could hear each inflection, each flattened vowel and every “babes” in my head as if he were in it. I adored every bit of Essex in our resident orange glitter pirate.

Bright moments gleamed from the clumsy communion on anonymous skin. That was all Darian was ever supposed to be.

This book did a number on me. I was a highlighting monster of a girl to the point I had to create a color coded system for all of them. I had an illness with these words, these words that tore at my soul like the black birds that attack my trash cans as they sit next to the curb at dawn. It was painful at times to read, knowing all the possibilities of love, of acceptance, of…peace that was waiting to be laid at the altar of whatever Ash and Darian would become.

I could go on forever about what I loved about this book but I won’t. It hit so many pressure points for me, so many buttons of what I enjoy about reading; the pleasure and the pain of it are so tangled up in emotions right not it’s hard to get my thoughts straight. I just know that I loved this story, I adored the leap of faith it took for both men to come together. I loved the analogy of food to their situation/relationship and you can bet your next fake tan that I will me making Nanny Dot’s Cottage Pie as posh as possible while remembering to take out the bay leaf.

I guess what I really want to say about Glitterland comes straight from Darian; I lie-kit.

Star RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar Rating

***Review Copy provided by Riptide Publishing via NetGalley***

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