Glitterland is a contemporary m/m romance novel by Alexis Hall. I spent most of December reading just about all of Hall’s books. I think this was the third book I read, but after reading it, I bought the Audible edition solely for the Essex accent. Okay, and also for the angst.
Ash Winters has been dragged to a stag party in Brighton, which is where he meets Darian from Essex. Darian is not his usual type at all, but their encounter is only supposed to be a once night stand, so it doesn’t really matter.
When they meet again, it’s only supposed to be a hookup, but Ash finds himself enjoying Darian’s company. But his anxiety and depression make him doubt that what he’s feeling is real. Ash and Darian come from completely different worlds, but can they possibly find happiness together?
Unlike most romance novels, Glitterland is single perspective: the reader only receives Ash’s point of view, so we don’t know anything more about Darian than Ash. This is especially relevant when Ash doubts himself; we don’t have Darian’s perspective to reassure ourselves, so we are forced to remain in suspense, just like Ash. I never felt like the book was lacking because of the single perspective; Ash is a delightful narrator with acerbic wit and a keen eye. He describes things in a nightclub as “synaesthetic chiaroscuro”. He’s a grumpy intellectual, and his depression/anxiety have kept him in a comfortable routine for so long that he doesn’t know how to step out of it.
Speaking of which, Ash and Darian have amazing chemistry. Absolutely amazing. And since their relationship starts off as purely physical, there’s plenty of evidence to support my assertion. It is so sweet to see Ash slowly realizing that he likes Darian.
I mentioned angst at the beginning of this review, and so now I suppose I should discuss the angst factor. This book has some absolutely gutwrenching moments, and the reader doesn’t know if everything is going to be okay because we only have Ash’s perspective.
I would recommend Glitterland to fans of contemporary m/m romance. This is a beautiful tale of two unlikely souls searching for happiness. It’s worth adding the Audible edition if you pick up the Kindle edition. Nicholas Boulton has a nice balance between Darian’s Essex accent and Ash’s “posho” (to quote Darian) accent. Hall’s prose is utterly sublime. I could read it all day without getting bored. This book is definitely going in my stack of favorite books to re-read, and I’m looking forward to Hall’s next book.