Title: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue
Author: Mackenzi Lee
Length: 513 Pages
Category: Historical, Teen Fiction, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
At a Glance: Zounds—this was fun! 5 glorious stars!
Reviewed By: Ben
Blurb: An unforgettable tale of two friends on their Grand Tour of 18th-century Europe who stumble upon a magical artifact that leads them from Paris to Venice in a dangerous manhunt, fighting pirates, highwaymen, and their feelings for each other along the way.
Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.
But as Monty embarks on his grand tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.
Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.
Witty, romantic, and intriguing at every turn, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is a sumptuous romp that explores the undeniably fine lines between friendship and love.
Review: Everything about this story was fantastic! Monty is probably my favorite protagonist of the year, and this is probably my favorite young adult novel of the year.
Monty is all set to go on what he thinks will be a grand tour of Europe with his best friend, Percy. He sees this trip as his last chance at freedom and his last chance to finally seduce Percy before his friend leaves for school in Holland.
“The great tragic love story of Percy and me is neither great nor truly a love story, and is tragic only for its single-sidedness. It is also not an epic monolith that has plagued me since boyhood, as might be expected. Rather, it is simply the tale of how two people can be important to each other their whole lives, and then, one morning, quite without meaning to, one of them wakes to find that importance has been magnified into a sudden and intense desire to put his tongue in the other’s mouth.”
Unfortunately, Percy is less in the know of Monty’s passions, and Monty’s father is less than impressed with Monty’s antics. Monty’s father is tired of his drinking, gambling, and he’s very tired of Monty’s sexual escapades. He threatens Monty over his proclivities and in a crushing blow, sends Monty on his grand tour with the dourest of chaperones, ruining everything Monty has planned and hoped for. Also, Monty’s sister is tacked onto the trip as added insult.
Though this is all terribly tragic for the young lord, it becomes clear that a few of these outcomes are Monty’s comeuppance. He isn’t without his faults, and in good literary fashion, his self-centeredness and pride is precisely why he cannot get what he wants. His frivolity is, admittedly, a bit tedious at times, which only somehow endeared him to me more, but there is a depth to him. In fact, all three teens had surprising depth to their characters and are more than meets the eye.
This is technically a historical fantasy, but I sort of waffled back and forth on whether I liked the fantastical elements. The magical box that’s supposed to be a cure-all was a glaringly obvious plot device, but it certainly got our teen trio on their way to adventure, so I suppose I can’t complain much.
I loved how the protagonist was bisexual, I loved how he was a silly goof, and I loved the historical setting. I had immense fun and gobbled the story up in less than a day. If I could go back in time to read it anew again I would in a heartbeat.
Cheers! 5 glorious stars!
You can buy The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue here: