Abby Talks Us Through The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue
By: Abby Lisk, Annotated by: Sydney Ho
Editor’s Note: Sydney’s annotations will be written in bold. Have fun reading the review!
Towards the beginning of the school year, my best friend (that’s me!) got this new book with a man on the front cover who, in my opinion, looked like Newt Scamander from Fantastic Beasts. As someone who definitely judges all books by their covers to determine if they’ll be good or not, I took this as a pretty good sign) because who doesn’t totally love Eddie Redmayne??). I don’t typically go for books with real people on the covers, I don’t know why; they’re just not as appealing to me. Anyway, my friend is totally obsessed with any book having to do with the 17th and 18th centuries, and this historical (not really) fiction lived up to her standards (I looooved it).
The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee tells the story of a young man named Henry (Monty) Montague whose dad is some like king or something (an earl, actually). He got kicked out of school for sleeping around with the boys there, and then his dad like totally hates him. Oh yeah, he’s like totally bisexual in the best way possible, and I love it. Monty decides to then go on a tour of like Europe and some islands with his best friend and total love interest (it’s pretty obvious), Percy. Unfortunately, he also has to put up with his sister Felicity and their tour guide of sorts. So they leave for their tour, and they’re at a party where Monty runs into some Duke from somewhere (they have the disagreement of a lifetime). To get revenge, he steals this dumb box (it’s really important actually) before running naked out of the party with Percy and Felicity.
After that, they’re in Paris and there’s a really heartwarming moment between Monty and Percy before they fight, and I got really sad because I just want the gays to be together and happy (moral of the story, everyone should be free to love who they love, bro!). So then, they’re in a carriage, and these scary people rob them (surprise they’re trying to find that not-so-dumb box that Monty stole). The boys run away with Felicity before they get hurt or captured. Then, they escape to a small town and meet an alchemist who helps with Percy’s epilepsy, which I forgot to mention earlier, oops (oops indeed, Abby). The medicine man helps them get on boat to another town, but they’re robbed by some pirates who aren’t actually pirates and sneak onto a ship. Then, some unimportant things happen and they make it to Venice. There’s a big party, and another really cute moment with Percy and Monty, and ugh, I forgot really important details, let’s forget about Venice for a second. The medicine man helps them find this important man who made the box Monty stole, so they go find where he lives only to find out he died a few years ago, but his kids still live there. They get hospitality for a few weeks before realizing how suspicious it is, and now they’re in Venice. Okay, we’re in Venice (finally) and there’s a cute moment there between our two boys and then they fight again and we’re all sad (we seem to be sad a lot whenever they’re together…). The mystery gets all solved up, and Percy and Monty live happily ever after together after confessing their love which caused me to cry for a solid ten minutes because I was just so gosh darn happy.
Mackenzi Lee did a phenominal job putting this book together with all the deep plot mysteries that were solved throughout the story. It dives deep into health issues and sexuality and sticks with the vibes of the time period where it takes place (in other words, it’s perfectly period-appropriate while still including a vast array of LGBT+ and POC representation). I’m expecting the next book, The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy, to bring me just as much joy as the first one did, and surprise me with each turn of the page.