Book Reviews

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee – Book Review


“We are not broken things, neither of us. We are cracked pottery mended with lacquer and flakes of gold, whole as we are, complete unto each other. Complete and worthy and so very loved.”

Reading this book was a struggle. First, let me say that I adored Mackenzi Lee’s writing style. Her writing was a pleasure to read, and so engaging. I loved the way she described everything, right down to the smallest detail and smell, making me picture everything perfectly. I loved the characters, and the way she carefully developed each one of them. The adventures the characters embarked on were incredible, and kept me on the edge of my seat.

So, why did this book make me suffer so greatly?

Well, let’s just say I read it at the worst time I possibly could. During the length of time I read this book, my health was terrible. I had never feared for my life as much as I did during the last month. I read this book slowly, but every time I picked it up, someone in the book was ill, or unable to breathe, or going through very detailed near-death experiences. I hated every one of those moments because it only gave me anxiety.

This was a great book, and I am very sad I couldn’t enjoy it.

I do want to talk about all the good things because I want other people to enjoy it. The book is set in the 18th century, and takes place over a disastrous tour starring three amazing main characters. Henry Montague, or Monty, is our lead guy. He’s an eighteen year old aristocrat (really wanted to write aristocat) who loves drinking, women and men alike, and engaging in non-gentlemanly behavior. He’s trying to get it all out of his system before he settles into his father’s estate, under his father’s total control. Then there’s Monty’s sister, Felicity, who loves reading, hates her big brother, and definitely does not do the romance thing. I loved her to pieces. My girl was tough to the bone, intelligent, clever, and I would honestly trust her with my life. Then there was Percy, the sweetest boy in the world, and Monty’s best friend (also his great unrequited love). Percy is biracial, and for that he deals with a lot of shit. He lost his parents, but he carries his father’s fiddle around with him as his only memory.

It’s important to mention that Monty suffered from physical abuse by his father from a young age. This is something that completely took me by surprise while reading it, and it’s very present throughout the book. There’s also homophobia, but mostly from Monty’s horrible father. Percy deals with epilepsy, which is a complicated topic during the time period, and it basically drives the plot.

The journey they go on is exciting. They face great danger while on the run, and things only slow down every once in a while. The trio have a lovely dynamic, always rushing to save one another, and never leaving anyone behind. I loved each of them separately and together. The pirates were one of my favorite aspect. I also really enjoyed the alchemy incorporated, though it made me uneasy at times (again, I read it at a bad time). Monty and Percy were really sweet, too. I loved their friendship, and I was rooting for them to get together. I found Monty’s inner monologues over his undying love for Percy to be absolutely endearing. I kept making notes on the margins every time it happened, calling him a “Lovesick fool.”

I have to say, I don’t regret reading this book, despite how difficult it was to get through it. I would recommend it to anyone into big adventures with bisexual protagonists, kickass ladies, and a hint of fantasy.

3 stars

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