Title : Highfell Grimoires
Author : Langley Hyde
Publisher : Blind Eye Books (BUY HERE)
Genre : M/M, Contemporary
Length : 322 pages (e-book)
Published : May 20, 2014
Rating : ★★★★★
Born to privilege, gifted in languages and spells, Neil Franklin has planned his brilliant future—from academic accolades to a proper marriage—and is intent upon upholding his family name and honor. The sudden death of his parents shatters all of that, leaving Neil and his younger sister beggared and orphaned.
When Neil’s estranged uncle offers him a bargain that will save him and his sister from debtor’s prison or exile, Neil eagerly agrees. Handing over the family grimoire as collateral for their debt, Neil devotes himself to working as a teacher for wayward youths at a charity school high in the clouds.
But Highfell Hall is not the charity Neil imagines it to be and the young men there aren’t training for the dull lives of city clerks. Amidst the roaring engines and within the icy stone halls, machinations and curious devices are at work. And one man, the rough and enigmatic Leofa, holds the key to the desire that Neil has fled from all his life and a magic as dangerous as treason.
This book broke up my reading funk. It’s the first book in weeks that I had no trouble staying awake into the early hours of the morning to read. It would definitely be categorized as Steampunk but there’s also magic and there is definitely a romance. A slow building romance but in this story it really made it more poignant. Although I fell hard for Neil and Leofa the world building is what puts this story on another level.
Neil’s parents have just died leaving him with their outstanding debt. Men in his situation usually have to go somewhere to work off the debt for the remainder of their lives but Neil’s uncle steps up for him and his sister. Neil is given the option to be the teacher at a school of orphaned boys. In this world the school is on a ship in the sky. This creates so many obstacles and adds an element of danger throughout the story.
Neil’s been raised in society with money so he’s a little shocked with the conditions at the school. The boys in the school are living in VERY meager existence. Not well taken care of at all. At first Neil is kind of put off by the things he has to do without but slowly he, and you as the reader, are transitioned into an us vs them mentality. The Nobsmithes are the family in charge of the school. As the story progresses you get a very clear idea of how this society works. The haves are in complete control while the lower class are used at the haves leisure. The ship is worse because it’s children of all ages at the mercy of the Nobsmithes who you know from the beginning aren’t good people. Neil is a good person if not a bit naive. He gets more and more brave as the book goes along. Standing up for the boys and his roommate Leofa whom he becomes friends with. They form a bond over taking care of the boys that quietly smolders into more as the book goes on. I love how innocent and sexy the longing looks and touches are throughout this book. Leaves you anticipating the moment they both realize their feelings for each other. And act on them! It was all very romantic and sexy. Falling in love should be the last thing on their minds but there’s no ignoring their feelings.
The main focus is uncovering what’s really going on at the school and why all those boys are there. Why doesn’t anybody care that they’re mistreated ? Where their mysterious injuries come from? I was dying to know by the time we learn what’s going on. Things don’t stop there though. Just because it’s all uncovered doesn’t mean men in their positions can do anything to prove it over the powerful Lords. They’re all at the mercy of those who hold the power. Plans and improvisation are needed to save them all.
There is no way I can put the excellence of this book into words here. It’s really an entire experience you should read for yourself. I found myself consumed by this world and the reality these people have found themselves in. I thought the love story was beautiful. Loving another man is still very much taboo and that adds to the danger of outing themselves. Like they don’t have enough to worry about. I highly recommend this book. Can’t wait to read more from this author!
Rated 5 stars by Whit