Santino Hassell: Stygian

Santino Hassell--StygianJeremy’s a weird guy and he knows it and life sucks extra hard when there are so many things that trigger his insecurities and the haunting shadows of his past. Hoping to find meaning and somewhere to belong, he joins one of his favorite indie bands. To work on their second album, the four of them–Watts: asshole, brains, frontman; Quince: sunshine, glue, bassist; Kennedy: brooder, protector, guitarist; and Jeremy: new guy, outsider, drummer–retreat to Louisiana for the summer. Nothing goes right from the start and things only get worse.

I read this in one night–8 hours and I called out of work because I didn’t finish until 9 minutes before my first alarm was supposed to go off. I used to do stupid stuff like that when I was younger because I not only read because I loved reading, but I also read to escape. It’s been a while since I’ve read a novel length published work. I spend so much time reading manga that my attention span for such things has been drastically reduced. I read fanfics on occasion, but not nearly enough to feel good about the balance between my reading stories with pictures and my reading stories without. I’ve been trying to correct that, but it’s been slow going especially since most of last year I wasn’t in good place and I didn’t feel comfortable in my surroundings, so the way I read novel-length works was severely compromised. Everything’s not 100% even now, but this was digital and M/M, so I took it as a bedtime story.

I enjoyed this! I liked the creepy atmosphere. I loved the characters–they were all so messed up and real. The breakdown and change each one went through completely matched or mirrored their personality, for better or for worse. It was horrible, but I loved the relationship between Watts and Quince. So horrible, but you get these glimpses of vulnerability and it just tears at you. But no one fought with and lost to vulnerability more than Jeremy and more often than not, it was directly related to the weird space he existed in with Kennedy–I just want to reread all of the their interactions.

This might be the one thing that still really gets me when I compare digital to print. I could have post-it tab-bookmarked those parts and flipped back and forth through them in print, but the process is not as organic with digital. Nevertheless, I will reread them and the whole book as well. It was a really comfortable read. It never dragged and hit all the right notes at all the right times. I did grow weary of people not using their words to avoid misunderstandings and creating conflict early on, but as you get to know the characters, you come to understand why this or that was hard to say or never said. And wonders of wonders, by the end, all but one loose end was tied, but I think that lingering question, as it is, is part of the story.

I pre-ordered this so it dropped into my Dreamspinner account when it was released. I completely forgot about it and that was some time last year. My friend recently mention M/M novels and I was later reminded about this one. This was my first time with Hassell and Dreamspinner and I’m more than satisfied with both! I am looking forward to exploring Hassell’s catalogue, but before I get too deep into the digital novels, I’m going to try my hand at one of the print titles I listed in my 2016 BL Book Queue.

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