Title: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue
Author: Mackenzi Lee
Genre: Historical Fiction, Young Adult, Fantasy
Rating: ★★★★☆ | 4.0 out of 5.0
If you asked me to draw up a wishlist of things I wanted from a queer YA historical novel, it would include the following:
- tender queer boys
- strong girls who are fallible but have agency & their own goals
- road trips! (AKA the only reason I’d read a Grand Tour novel)
- dropping trou before European dignitaries at Versailles
- intersectional identities
- a nuanced handling of chronic illness and disability
And man, like. It delivers. The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue (hi, love that title) is an adventure romp about two boys and one judgemental, not-here-for-your-shit sister who go on a Grand Tour. But because of one of the boys’ assholery (Monty’s), they end up being chased across the Continent by a sinister duke with nefarious plans.
This was an incredibly well-written novel––there is one thing I love most in all the world and it’s the slightly offbeat, self aware humour of historical fantasy set in Regency England. Think Sorcerer to the Crown and Sorcery and Cecelia and you’ve got a good idea of what I’m talking about, because our narrator/erstwhile protagonist/resident douchebag Henry “Monty” Montague has wit and humour in spades. Also self-hate, because this novel goes to some dark places for something so otherwise lighthearted and enjoyable.