Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

GAY WRITES REVIEW: The Glass Minstrel by Hayden Thorne

This review is part of our Gay Writes celebration. Don’t forget to comment on the  original post for a  chance to win one of those prizes as well as commenting on this post for a chance to win a copy of this book.

Dear Ms. Thorne,

After I read your last historical release, The Twilight Gods, I added you to my list of authors to watch and read regularly.   The Twilight Gods was a great, historically researched novel that felt comfortably Dickensian.   While I have yet to really dig into your contemporary novels, I know you have an admirable ability to write historical novels.   I wasn’t at all worried about your latest release, and it proved to be just as good as the last one.   While it didn’t capture me as intently as The Twilight Gods did, the quality of writing was lovely and consistent.   This is so much more than a Christmas story.

The story, as many Christmas ones do, begins with a toymaker.

Abelard Bauer is a toymaker living in Bavaria in the mid-1800′s.   His work is known to be meticulous and lovely, and many people in his village buy the toys from him to put under their trees.   While toy making is his trade, what he really impresses people with is his knowledge of making glass spheres and ornaments.   Princes and shepherds, and most recently, a tiny glass minstrel.

In the same tiny, Bavarian town lives a man named Andreas Schiffer.   He knows Abelard well enough.   Haunted by the tragic death of his son, and the darkened history behind it, Schiffer is hostile towards Abelard.   Despite the fact that they share the tragedy of their sons perishing in the same accident, they also share another secret.

Their sons were lovers.

Set around the magical time of Christmas, The Glass Minstrel is the heartbreaking story of a toymaker who finds himself in the throes of depression.   The last of his family has gone from him, just after he began to understand what it was like.   It is a story of a broken friendship, of understanding, and of how loneliness affects us all.   Especially around the holidays.

Reading your novels is always a quietly uplifting experience.   Nothing immediately catches your attention, but you are pleasantly surprised by what the pages of the book hold.   By the end of the story, you are invested in the characters and analyzing their motives like you would in the best of novels.   Genre fiction is hard to pull off as something both original yet familiar, but books such as The Glass Minstrel manage to get it right.

Abelard was a protagonist I was amazingly fond of.   It’s interesting to read a young adult novel where the adults are more centered than the teenager in the story, although there were several teenage characters in the narrative.   His place in the story was simple yet powerful, and it was really touching to read about the dedication to his craft and how he missed his son.   the fact that he was an accepting father was also a nice touch.

Schiffer was the black to Abelard’s white, though not in a bad way.   Where Abelard deals with his grief by befriending a young teenager named Jakob (who is much like his son), Schiffer bemoans his fate and tries to make sense of the journal his son Heinrich left behind.   His character is intense and angry, and seeing that anger slowly disappear as he became more accepting of his son’s passing was nice.   It blended with the acceptance of what his son was, as well.

The story of Jakob was a pleasant side story that represented the love of the younger Bauer and Schiffer in a new form, although Jakob’s road to romance is not easy, and is not destined for a quick fix.   He traverses the difficult waters of liking a childhood friend that is either straight or not accepting of their sexuality, and of liking someone that, while kind, is destined to never return those affections.   Jakob’s character is the one that will resonate with teen readers the most, and I really enjoyed how real he was.   I would have liked to know him outside the pages of your novel.

Your writing was as pleasant as always, and your style remains something unique yet accessible.   Historical fiction enthusiasts especially will enjoy your attention to detail and the way you focus on characters of the middle class, as so few authors tend to do.   Another thing that I really liked about this book is the journal entries from Heinrich that began each chapter.

Our books make for good props.   It’s quite funny how everyone else sees us and commends us for being such a studious pair, with our books and notes spread out on the grass while we lie on our stomachs or sit against our favorite beech tree.   Half the time we simply write notes to each other, which we pass back and forth.   Sometimes I think we get a little too sentimental, but Stefan seems to take a lot of pleasure in it, so I try not to feel too self-conscious about being sweet on him.

- from the journal of Heinrich Schiffer

The plot was nice enough, though I think the subject of Christmas will deter some readers, despite the fact that the novel isn’t meant to be a Christmas story so much as a story that takes place around Christmastime.   The setting was also thinner than The Twilight Gods, and I found myself not enjoying it as much.   I would have liked more vivid descriptions of it, but it wasn’t so sparse as to deter readers.   Merely, I felt that it could have been done better.

For readers that are unfamiliar with LGBTQ genre fiction and/or LGBTQ historical fiction, especially for young-adults, your work is a great starting point.   Your stories are engaging and the feelings and situations you deal with are universal to all time periods.   With enjoyable characters and writing that hardly misses the mark, I enjoy your work, and think that many other people will as well.   You know how to write about LGBTQ issues delicately, yet you still manage to convey a wonderful message.   We’re just like everyone else, and that’s what is important.   B +

All the best,
John

Amazon Buy Link

We have a signed PRINT copy (US only) *and* a DIGITAL copy (no geographic restrictions) of this book to giveaway. Comment by 6am EST on Wednesday to win! (One win per person for the week of our Gay Writes giveaways, but feel free to comment on all posts to increase your chances of winning!)

Ever since a good friend brought him a copy of Johanna Lindsey's Gentle Rogue, he has been hooked on the romance genre. Though he primarily reads in young-adult, he loves to spend time with paranormal, historical, and contemporary adult titles in-between books. Now, he finds himself juggling book reviews, school band, writing, and finding time to add to his TBR pile.

27 Comments

  1. Sylwia
    Oct 12, 2010 @ 05:34:43

    I’ve never heard about the author; checked her (his? – Goodreads’ profile says ‘male’) books on Amazon and Goodreads and s/he is relatively unknown (Indie :)). But the review is so favorable and the cover so beautiful, that I would love to read it.
    So I’d like to join the contest for digital copy of the book.

    ReplyReply

  2. Lee B.
    Oct 12, 2010 @ 06:10:06

    I’ve been keen to read this for a while now, and this beautifully-done review just piques my interest more.

    I’m loving all these GLBT reviews at DA!

    ReplyReply

  3. Rene
    Oct 12, 2010 @ 07:33:55

    Thank you for this review. The book sounds great, and the cover is lovely.

    ReplyReply

  4. Jaye
    Oct 12, 2010 @ 08:23:19

    I’m surprised there aren’t more books set in Bavaria– or have I just not seen them?

    ReplyReply

  5. Grace
    Oct 12, 2010 @ 08:23:44

    Lovely review. I haven’t heard of this author, but the titles of her books and your remarks about this latest one will prompt me to take a look-see on Amazon (more to add to my TBR stack). And kudos to her publisher for that striking cover. Truly beautiful.

    ReplyReply

  6. Ell
    Oct 12, 2010 @ 10:02:00

    LOVE the cover. The story sounds interesting too.

    ReplyReply

  7. Nikyta
    Oct 12, 2010 @ 11:00:50

    Great review. I haven’t heard of this author but after reading the review, I look forward to reading the book. :D

    ReplyReply

  8. LaurieS
    Oct 12, 2010 @ 11:45:43

    This book sounds wonderful. I’m always looking for well written m/m reads. Thanks so much for the review.

    ReplyReply

  9. Twila
    Oct 12, 2010 @ 11:46:05

    Ooooh. I’m behind on my books by this author,so this would be v. cool to win! (I also enjoyed the review.)

    ReplyReply

  10. adobedragon
    Oct 12, 2010 @ 12:51:30

    This sounds intriguing. Sign me up.

    ReplyReply

  11. sirius11214
    Oct 12, 2010 @ 15:07:48

    Thank you for the review, I love this author and would love to read this one.

    ReplyReply

  12. John
    Oct 12, 2010 @ 15:18:30

    Definitely a strong addition from Hayden. Great author, great voice, and worth buying. :) Hayden also has a Victorian-Era parody of the vampire novel called Desmond and Gerrick coming out from Prizm in December that I am quite looking forward to.

    ReplyReply

  13. TracyF
    Oct 12, 2010 @ 15:29:06

    interesting…I am always up for a new read! (although my bank card probably won’t be happy with me….)

    ReplyReply

  14. Whyer
    Oct 12, 2010 @ 16:22:29

    I want to read this book so much–not only do I admire the cover artist and her work, but the story itself sounds simply beautiful.

    I was hoping to buy myself a copy for Christmas, but maybe I can try my luck with this~?

    ReplyReply

  15. Morgan N.
    Oct 12, 2010 @ 16:55:48

    This book looks like a good read to me!

    ReplyReply

  16. cories5
    Oct 12, 2010 @ 17:18:29

    I’m definitely interested in this one! The cover is beautiful, too.

    ReplyReply

  17. Jennie M.G.
    Oct 12, 2010 @ 18:14:42

    Love the cover! This book sounds really interesting.

    ReplyReply

  18. Marie
    Oct 12, 2010 @ 18:33:41

    Sharing the cover love here. And the book sounds fascinating too!

    ReplyReply

  19. Sotheara
    Oct 12, 2010 @ 18:44:11

    Count me in for a print copy of this book.

    ReplyReply

  20. maygirl7
    Oct 12, 2010 @ 18:53:15

    I’m curious to try this one.

    ReplyReply

  21. May
    Oct 12, 2010 @ 19:08:37

    This looks good. Please enter me in the draw. Thanks.

    ReplyReply

  22. Lindsay
    Oct 12, 2010 @ 23:51:03

    @Sylwia: I’ve been reading Hayden Thorne’s stories for…. well let us just say, quite a few years. When she started off as a fanfic writer (though to track down those stories is pretty impossible now). She is absolutely brilliant and deserves a lot more recognition. Her Masks series (a contemporary saga about superheroes) is one of the funniest things I have ever read.

    ReplyReply

  23. Jessica
    Oct 13, 2010 @ 01:55:20

    Like others have said, that cover is too beautiful to resist and it sounds like a great book to boot!

    ReplyReply

  24. Rebecca B
    Oct 13, 2010 @ 02:24:14

    the cover intrigued me and the review sounds great. I’d love to win either a digital or print copy of this book!

    RB

    ReplyReply

  25. Marg
    Oct 13, 2010 @ 03:32:37

    This sounds like it could be a really good read!

    I would like to be entered for a digital copy.

    ReplyReply

  26. SarahM
    Oct 13, 2010 @ 12:48:14

  27. Joan/SarahF
    Oct 13, 2010 @ 18:59:17

    @Rebecca B and @Morgan N. are our winners for this giveaway. Congratulations! You’ll be getting an email from me. And everyone else, don’t forget to go to our main Gay Writes post and enter there for the chance to win many more books.

    ReplyReply

Leave a Reply

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.

%d bloggers like this: