Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Icarus In Flight


By Hayden Thorne

I'm super excited about this new release - Hayden's written a gay Victorian Historical Romance for Teens!

James is wealthy and hates school.

Daniel is penniless and ambitious - alone in the world but for a brother.

James and Daniel meet at school and become friends. Their friendship soon grows to something more. But it's the mid 1800s in England, and there's not much future in loving another guy.

Then James' father dies, leaving young James wealthy and beset with responsibilities. Daniel's brother also dies in a freak accident, and now he is truly alone in the world. Or is he?

Both young men struggle with their losses, how to live their lives, and how to deal with their love for each other.


Add your review of this book in "comments!"

While "Icarus in Flight" isn't officially out until September 2008, it is already available at some booksellers, including Amazon and Lambda Rising.

4 comments:

Erastes said...

I can express how pleased I am that Hayden has had success (not that I doubted it for a moment.)

This book (and the other two, Masks: Rise of Heroes and Banshee (another historical) are all wonderful and simply light years above what most of us are churning out. I can't wait to get the printed copies in my sticky hands.

SMD said...

Aha! I was wondering why I couldn't find this book at the library - it's not even out yet. I will check out Amazon.

Mark R. Probst said...

Hayden Thorne’s Icarus in Flight, is a truly remarkable Victorian love story set in England in 1841. 12 year old James is introduced to a new boy in school, Daniel, a poor, frail orphan, who is the target of bullying. Upper-class James takes Daniel under his wing, offering him protection and takes on the task of enriching Daniel’s life with culture thereby making him suitable as a comrade.

The novel quickly advances to 1847 where at 18 James has inherited his family’s estate and now has the responsibility to financially care for his mother and two sisters. He continues his friendship with Daniel who occasionally visits James’s home and a romance blossoms. Within a few years the relationship is consummated and James makes plans to take care of Daniel, provide a home for them both, and to sponsor Daniel’s budding career as a writer. But someone gets to Daniel and convinces him that if the relationship continues on he would be spoiling James’s good name. So Daniel (like Icarus in Greek Mythology) flees to Norwich with the hope of making good on his own. James is crushed and sinks into despair, eventually leaving England for Venice where he takes up a life of empty sexual encounters. I won’t disclose how the story ends except to say that you won’t be disappointed.

Both boys are richly-drawn, likeable characters. James, due to his being born into wealth and inheritance, is understandably a bit of a snob from time to time, and Daniel is so humble and demure that you just want to scoop him up and cuddle him. The fact that he idolizes James makes him particularly vulnerable.

What makes this novel so impressive is its tone. Thorne has wonderfully captured polite, Victorian society with English manners and mores, the cadences of proper dialog, and prudent behavior all coming together in grand style. I definitely felt the influences of Forster (and dare I say, Austen?) The female characters are as well-drawn as the male characters. In a time of Britain’s history where women were not allowed to own property, Thorne demonstrates how the mother and daughters dealt with having their livelihood left in the hands of a young son, using carefully crafted language to manipulate him into serving the interests of propagating the family.

As a parlor drama, it is to be expected that Icarus in Flight is a bit light on plot. The real strength of the writing is Thorne’s dialog, which just sparkles with wit and intelligence and is so polished and authentic to the British period that it would be comfortable on the lips of actors in a production on the BBC.

Mark R. Probst
Author of The Filly

Liz/moth said...

I got my copy of this and Hayden's other two books from an independent bookstore, via amazon.co.uk. As well as being a good read, the books are beautifully produced.

James and Daniel meet at boarding school and form a deep relationship. I was surprised at how much licence the publishers allowed the schoolboys and later under-18s. Many publishers like to sweep reality under the carpet. Not that the sex scenes are explicit, but the implications are obvious and the emotions are fully explored. At the beginning of the book, the boys are discovering themselves, but before long, as men, they are discovering the limitations of society. This is an interesting exploration, especially because none of the characters are natural rebels against conformity.

The novel deals with class differences, gender differences and the problems of commitment in a society that frowned on any affection between men. The world of James’ mother and sisters is beautifully described and gives plenty of explanation for their behaviour both regarding James and Daniel, and in other respects. There is a minor and fascinating echo of this thread in the ‘below stairs’ world of Daniel’s fellow employees.

There is no doubt of the love between the two heroes but Daniel is driven to seek independence and the path of romance is far from smooth.

James’ country estate, London and nineteenth century Venice are all lovingly described. The writer paints the world and its inhabitants with all the assurance and delicacy of a Victorian watercolour. There are references to a number of issues such as the Irish famine, which have no bearing on the main plot but serve to ground the story in the world of the time.

This is, I think, a book for the older end of the YA market. Not because of the sex, but because of the emotions, which demand some experience from the reader. This is as true of the heroes’ interactions with their friends and families as of their feelings for each other. I think a younger teenager might be confused by Daniel’s insistence on making his own way and on James’ sometimes subtle quarrels with his sister. They might also be distracted by the Venetian whores (both genders) to the detriment of the flow of the plot. I am speaking here as an ex-teacher and I know perfectly well that the age at which teenagers handle various questions varies enormously. I would, however, hesitate to stock this in a secondary school library, but would recommend it for a sixth-form college.

It is a gentle book, with few dramatic events. It portrays a time in English society which is, we hope, gone forever, but in that portrayal allows the reader to consider issues of family, friendship and love.