I wanted to give this book 5*, because it's by Erastes., because her other books were great. This one just slightly is not up to her high standard. I think in some ways the ending is OK, but this is Erastes. As a gay book it is good, if who have not read anything of hers before.
I love male/male historical romances and anything with a hint of gothic about it. Although I'm not usually a fan of first person novels, in this case it worked well because we as the readers discover things at the same time as the protagonist, Crispin Thorne. It has a hint of the ghost story about it, although nothing explicitly supernatural happens in the narrative, you get the impression you wouldn't be surprised if it did. It was a wonderful sweeping story, but I have one quibble and that is with the ending.
After a build-up of tension for much of the book, we have the denoument and then the last paragraph skims over what happens next to our characters. It all seemed a bit rushed and I was a little disappointed. So four stars instead of five from me.
I have read Junction X by Erastes and this book was recommended to me. I am unfamiliar with the world of the Norfolk Broads, but the writer drew me into that world and I found myself intrigued by the setting as much as the characters. A very tense story, with twists and turns that were unexpected. I felt the ending was a little hurried, which is why I only give four stars, but this is certainly a book to re-read and savour.
The air of the cold Norfolk Broads seeps into your bones from the very first page of "Mere Mortals". As the novel develops, the atmosphere is tangible, I could feel it and live it along with the protagonist, Crispin, who, as an orphan, is transported from his school to his life as a ward of Philip Smallwood who lives in a dark mansion on an island in the Broads.
There was something of du Maurier's Rebecca simmering under the skin of this brilliant story and the quality of writing is just as good. My congratulations to Erastes for her obvious attention to small details: the historical aspects of Victorian school life, the bigotry of that time, the aristocracy and the arts young people were expected to be skilled at, were spot on.
There are many questions to ask such as: why are three boys all wards of the hitherto unknown Smallwood? Just who is he? Will there be any romance between any of the characters? And, do I like Smallwood or not? Just like the many-corridored mansion, Erastes is a master at leading her reader into dark corners and dead ends. As you're reading, don't take anything for granted because you'll be in for a surprise. Thoroughly recommended. And even if you don't like m/m fiction, that is no reason for you not to enjoy "Mere Mortals".
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This book is labelled as "gothic mystery", but to be honest the main mystery is spoilt alredy in the cover. If you read the synopsis and then watch the cover, you can understand what the "mystery" is about (at least I understood it). The problem of this book is that it's very imbalanced. For the first 23 chapters, we follow the three main characters in their new life in their guardian's house. We see them eating, taking classes, walking around, talking, etc etc, and every now and then the author leaves a "clue" about the above-mentioned mystery. Nothing more happens in the first 23 chapters. In the last 3 chapters, all is revealed, and events unfold so quickly that some of the previous "clues" are left without explanation. So we are left wondering about, for example, a certain sentence, or about the behaviour of a certain character. The real mystery of the book is "who loves who". The two love stories of the book come out the blue at the end of the book, and in this case too no great explanations are given (especially for the main love story). This happens also in another book by Erastes (standish) and I don't like it very much. I prefer when the characters take more time to fall in love with each other, and when we see the reasons why the do it.
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