Read Highfell Grimoires by Langley Hyde Online


Born to privilege, gifted in languages and spells, Neil Franklin has planned his brilliant future—from academic accolades to a proper marriage—and is intent upon upholding his family name and honor. The sudden death of his parents shatters all of that, leaving Neil and his younger sister beggared and orphaned.When Neil’s estranged uncle offers him a bargain that will saveBorn to privilege, gifted in languages and spells, Neil Franklin has planned his brilliant future—from academic accolades to a proper marriage—and is intent upon upholding his family name and honor. The sudden death of his parents shatters all of that, leaving Neil and his younger sister beggared and orphaned.When Neil’s estranged uncle offers him a bargain that will save him and his sister from debtor’s prison or exile, Neil eagerly agrees. Handing over the family grimoire as collateral for their debt, Neil devotes himself to working as a teacher for wayward youths at a charity school high in the clouds.But Highfell Hall is not the charity Neil imagines it to be and the young men there aren’t training for the dull lives of city clerks. Amidst the roaring engines and within the icy stone halls, machinations and curious devices are at work. And one man, the rough and enigmatic Leofa, holds the key to the desire that Neil has fled from all his life and a magic as dangerous as treason....

Title : Highfell Grimoires
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781935560289
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 268 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Highfell Grimoires Reviews

  • Julio Genao
    2019-04-26 09:21

    lovely odds and ends, but the plot's as crazy as a rat in a coffee's dominated by circumstances being revealed to the protagonist via convenient correspondence with characters we never meet. and the story falls flat every time the hero is faced with a challenge and meekly wibbles his way aside so as to take the path of least et cetera. and about that "hero": ouf. talk about limp biscuits. dumb as fuck. takes him forever to figure anything out, and when he does, he takes weeks to actually do anything about it.including his smoldering attraction to his bunkmate.when i complained about the annoyingly twee and abortive sexuality through the first 90 percent or so, a friend who'd read it replied, "wait, there was sex in that book?"my. point. eggs. he takes forever to do anything proactive, and because of the aforementioned cray-cray plot, what he decides is so dumb and doomed to failure i was literally grinding my teeth in frustration.because it only turns out okay with the aid of like four separate dei ex machinis.honestly, even the beginning kinda drove me apeshit, pleasing mystery or no. i wanted hogwarts, but what i got instead was something out of dickens—the intensely upsetting suffering of innocent schoolboys—only to have it all conveniently resolved in two throwaway paragraphs in the final chapter.grrr.promising, but undermined by a fundamentally flawed plot and characters so thunderingly stupid they couldn't think their way through a turnstile.i mean, really? really, leo? "why does he (view spoiler)[have a picture of my mom on his desk (hide spoiler)]?" really???

  • Ami
    2019-05-13 07:23

    “Highfell Grimoire” is first and foremost a steampunk fantasy adventure rather than male/male romance. Considering that I don’t have a good record with stories I consider as ‘fantasy’ especially dashed with ‘steampunk elements’, the fact that I wish I had several more pages should clue you all in about how thrilling I find this story.The story opens with Neil leaving to go to Highfell Hall, a charity school for orphans high in the clouds. Yes, people, IN THE CLOUDS. How cool is that, right? I think the story is brimmed with creative invention – from schools floating above cities to spells wired into pages of grimoires that are protected by bloodlocks.I admit that I struggled in the beginning – mainly because being an ESL, I have poor ability to imagine things described in English when I don’t have frame of reference (another reason why I prefer contemporary genre). However, the story just reeled me in, as I found out (through Neil, since he’s the narrator) about “something rotten in the mysterious room of Highfell Hall”. Apart from the social injustice that Neil sees firsthand – the boys don’t get enough food and proper education, the schoolmaster and his family thinks that the lower class don’t have the rights and privileges, the schoolmaster’s boy is cruel and not above torturing the students – Neil suspects that Highfell Hall is a front to something against the law.This is when things get really exhilarating – the secrets that Neil discovers, the plan that Neil comes up with to save the boys and bring down the schoolmaster – I was definitely on the edge of my seat within the second half of the book. I was worried that Nick’s plan was going to fail, I was scared for the sake of the boys (they’re such endearing characters)… but at the same time I couldn’t stop reading because I really, REALLY wanted to see these bad people being brought down to justice.As for the romance – it’s there but it was one of those slow-burn relationship which took its time to build between Neil and the gruff gardener, Leofa. Again, in my perspective, the romance was in the backseat. It was still a lovely romance, though, especially because Neil never had an experience with a man, so what he felt for Leofa was new and exciting.I think this book will appeal to those looking for some fantasy adventure, with strong steampunk element, and don’t mind that the romance is not the focus of the story. It’s a well-written one, that’s for sure.The ARC is provided by the author for an exchange of fair and honest review. No high rating is required for any ARC received.

  • Lauraadriana
    2019-04-23 08:13

    You know when you read a book and you KNOW, like deep inside of you that you are in on something amazing? That you are reading something important. That’s how I felt reading this book, like “Wow, I’m one of the first people reading this book, and this book is going to BLOW PEOPLE AWAY.” That’s what I was thinking throughout Highfell Grimoires, from the moment I started reading I knew I was in for something remarkable. Let’s start with the genre, the book is a Steampunk novel, and without exaggerating even a little bit I can say it is the best one I’ve read in this genre, full stop. Second, it channeled some serious Victorian Gothic magic, think Brontë, think Poe, think Dickens…Think BIG, because that is exactly what the writing in this novel was. The excellent world building, the intriguing characters, twisted and fascinating foes, vulnerable and noble heroes, the piercing look at class, inequality, justice, gender biases, misogynistic societal norms, hypocrisy, kindness, love, loyalty, friendship, higher causes, greater good…The whole enchilada my friends. This novel HAS IT ALL…And then THEN, there’s Neil, Leofa and their boys.Where do I even start? Because seriously if I wasn’t a happily married woman I would have proposed to Langley Hyde about a third into this book. Neil Franklin’s life has been taken away from him. After his parent’s accidental death him and his sister are suddenly faced with a crippling family debt, and to repay it he agrees to leave the city of Herrow and his studies, to become a teacher at his uncle’s charity boarding school for boys. The school is up in an eatherium, estates that float in the air powered by aether. So he will have to leave his sister in the care of his uncle. As much as Neil loves those big floating ship-like structures in the sky, and the excitement of possibly taking part in forming young minds, he is low, because he knows he will never be able to pay the debt he owes, and his sister’a future might be in jeopardy as much as his.Things get grimmer the moment he arrives at the school, the conditions there are less then optimal, and his students seems to be a group of disreputable urchins…And that’s not not the worst of it, the Nobsnippes, the family who runs the school seem to be pretty shady characters. Neil is not sure what he’s gotten himself into, but the more he learns of the conditions he is to live in the more he despairs. Then he meets Leofa, the “garderner” for the school who he is supposed to be roommates with (the horror), not only is the whole thing unseemly and completely below someone’s Neil social status, but Leofa makes him jumpy. He is all kinds of mysterious and confusing. He is a bit rough with Neil, yet so kind and gentle with the boys. He goes out of his way to feed them and care for them as much as he can…He is also big and beautiful, and that out of everything is the very worst part. Neil cannot have feelings for this man, it is not well regarded for two men to be “involved” and besides he’s not too sure if “gardening” is really what Leofa is getting up to wherever he spends his days…As a matter of fact some of the boys are going in there too and coming back hurt. None of this is Neil’s problem though, he cannot get attached to the boys or Leofa, what he needs is to find a way to get out of the situation he is in, the whole thing is beneath him. Not at all what he signed for, the Nobsnippes give him the creeps, they are nasty people, the boys are barely manageable and then there’s the sleeping arrangement with Leofa…Neil is in over his head, that is for sure!From the voice (Neil is our narrator in first person POV), to the world, the characters, the toys, flying machines, intrigue, magic, secrets and romance this book was LUSCIOUS. Visually the world is gorgeous, my mind was working overtime to keep up with flying aetheriums, victorian dresses a la Tim Burton, and magical books secured with hazardous bloodlocks. Neil, like all the others, is a wonderfully developed character. He is so much a man of his time, but he has an ingrained sense of nobility and fairness, he is attached to his place in society and what it has provided for him, but he understands the injustices that exist in his world. When he is faced with the conditions which the boys he grows to care about are forced to live in, out the carelessness of others he struggles with that. He struggles with the reality that a good man like Leofa is forced to work for pennies by nasty people because of circumstances that were not his doing. It is an unfair world, and it shames him that he has never paid much attention to it before.Then of course is what he finds in Leofa and those boys. He finds his heart and his purpose. What had never seemed important before becomes paramount, because soon he realizes that these boys and that man are important, not just to him, but they are important because they ARE. Strange things are happening and he fears they might all be in danger, nothing seems to be like he thought it was. Seems like Neil may have been living in the clouds before he got up on the aetherium, ironically, but he’s never been a coward and now is not the the time to start when his, Leofa’s, the boys and his sister’s fate are in the balance.I won’t go into the mystery or magic because that was such a wonderful part of this book, that I will leave you to discover it yourselves. This story is nothing but goodness, the heroes are brave and valiant, the villains are twisted and grotesque…The archetypes are done exquisitely. The romance between Neil and Leofa is subtle and understated but no less was powerful and moving. I did not miss the erotica (although there were intimate moments), for me the big payoff for me came from getting to know them and their world. Not that there is not enough in their love story to make one swoon, because THERE IS! It’s a read like you don’t run across very often.I cannot say enough good things, if I could I would make reading this novel mandatory. For steampunk and fantasy fans this is required reading. For fans of Victorian novels, also a MUST…And if you are fan of good books with good writing, go buy this book NOW.Effusively and enthusiastically recommend. I hope beyond all hope there is a lot more from Langley Hyde coming our way in the near future, I especially hope that this one not the last form Neil, Leofa and their gang.For a complete review and to see the recipe for some AMAZING Lemon Lavender Cakelets with Lemon Curd Filling I made for this book go to The Tipsy Bibliophile

  • Xing
    2019-04-28 07:07

    Highfell Grimoires (HG) is a fantastic steam-punk experience, which is the beginning of Langley Hyde's hopefully long writing career.In a world where a source of energy named aether runs abundant in the world's atmosphere, humanity has learned to harvest it in everyday technology and spells. Among this are the aetheria, which are floating colossal structures that functions as academies, research facilities and other important units. Spells are found in grimoires, which are inherited within bloodlines, where they can be put to both good and bad uses.It's within this very constructive and fascinating world, where Neil and Nora Franklin are met with ill fate. With the recent death of their parents, the family debt is picked up by their uncle Gerard, who inherits the family grimoire. In exchange for dealing with the Franklin family's debt and for taking care of Nora, Neil has agreed to teach at the Highfell aetherium (owned by said uncle). It is there, that Neil discovers that things are grossly different from his expectations. Something's amiss in the aetherium, and with the unsuspected help from the gardener/mechanic Leofa, Neil is about to learn just how out of hand things really are. HG exceeds in its construction of a very original world. I easily lost myself among the high altitudes of the aetherium, the science of aether, the mechanics of the grimoires, and the political structure and caste system in this world. The book also had a very nice cast of secondary characters - from the boys that Neil teaches at Highfell, the staff that works there, and Nora herself. The adventure aspect of the book was also done very well, as certain scenes were very exciting and fitting for this steam-punk world. Unfortunately, there were a couple things that didn't work well for me. First was the proofreading. While I wouldn't let this be a deal breaker for grammar Nazis or people who just dislike mistakes, it was definitely a problem sprinkled throughout the book. In terms of content, I had to say that the romance was good, but I felt lacked some depth. It's difficult to explain: it was slow-burn and sweet, but I felt like it fell kind of flat in terms of an emotional punch. Overall, HG is a great debut novel by Langley Hyde. While it lacked a strong romance element, it excelled as a steam-punk experience for those looking to escape reality for a good handful of hours. I would definitely recommend it to friends who are open to reading this genre.

  • Charming
    2019-04-27 15:26

    Highfell Grimoires by Langley Hyde Really excellent, gripping steampunk flavored book.  There were a few issues - the pacing got a little slow in the middle, and too fast at the end. Some of the characters were a bit two-dimensional.  The plot was a little here and there toward the end.  But I felt pinned to my chair with breathless anticipation, and I will have to read it again soon because I know I missed some details while whipping through the pages to see what would happen next. I am very much looking forward to this author's next book - and steampunk isn't usually a genre I really enjoy, I think because it is based on the Victorian era, and that was a dark, grim time. This book definitely captured the dark-grim.  The poor are treated like animals, upper class women are treated like pure-bred animals, justice is a laughably dim hope, everything is polluted and dirty - yeah, Victorian mood all right. But the right writer can sell me on just about anything, and Langley Hyde is plainly the right writer.

  • Kwoomac
    2019-04-28 10:36

    This is author Langley Hyde's first novel, published by Blind Eye Books. Blind Eye publishes scifi, fantasy, and paranormal romance novels featuring gay or lesbian protagonists. What they seem to have turned a blind eye to (sorry) is editing. Too frequently I was cringing as I read "to he and I" or some variation if this. Grrrr. In addition, there were typos and missing words. I'm willing to let the first mistake go, because that's the kind of person I am, but this happened too often. It took me right out of the story.But what a story it was! A lot of the action takes place on a ship, anchored in the sky, held aloft by aether. Lots of cogs and steam engines and barometers. Our hero, Cornelius Franklin, becomes a teacher at Highfell, a charity school for orphans. He inherited his recently deceased parents' debt. His uncle paid it off and now he owes his uncle. His sister may end up married to the first rich guy her uncle can find. Something's not right at Highfell and everyone is doing their best to make sure Neil finds out nothing. Meanwhile, Neil takes a real liking to his students and throws himself into teaching. He also falls in love. The love story was poignant, with Neil finally coming to terms with his own sexuality. It felty honest and raw. While the sex scenes were quite graphic, I found Neil's introduction to sex to be handled thoughtfully. 4 stars because with a little bit of editing this is a fun fantasy ride.

  • Amal El-Mohtar
    2019-04-22 08:26

    Tremendously enjoyable, with a gay lead character and an engrossing romance that's really hot. Hooray for good steampunk novels!

  • Karen Wellsbury
    2019-04-24 10:30

    What a lovely, lovely bookSteampunk, mystery, islands in the sky, airships.Creating your own life and being your own person.Highly recommended

  • Vanessa North
    2019-05-21 08:37

    I have a lot of thoughts about this book. Let's start with the good stuff: I would absolutely recommend this to fans of steampunk fiction who don't mind a dense read. I found the story well-plotted, with the mystery elements in particular VERY well done. I enjoyed Ms Hyde's characters very much, and could easily have seen myself enjoying a long-term series based around them.My struggles with this story primarily fall into issues with voice. I found that much of the worldbuilding was done in a box-ticking tell-not-show sort of way, rather than a very organic discovery. I don't want to compare to Harry Potter, because really, that is unfair to Ms Hyde, but when writing about a paranormal boarding school... it's almost inevitable. Let's just say that worldbuilding on this scale should reveal in both the character and the reader deep emotions--a sense of wonder, of fear, or that gut-curling mixture of both: trepidation. I didn't get that sense here. I felt there was too much description without enough reaction to what was being seen. Still, it was a big world, some of that was to be expected. The other issue I had with voice was an unnecessary devotion to vocabulary. When "iniquities," "extirpate," and "inculpate" are all used in the same sentence? Even a logophile like myself is bound to cry "uncle."Copy edits could have been much stronger, but I'm a damned picky reader, so make of that what you will.In the end, I enjoyed and admired this story in spite of my niggles.

  • Heather C
    2019-05-16 10:22

    Oh boy, it’s happened to me again: another amazing book leaving me with no idea how to construct a coherent review!I recently took a chance on a new-to-me-author (or new-to-everyone most likely) and was completely blown away with how such an amazing storyteller Ms. Hyde is…Highfell Grimoires is a steampunk story about Neil, a young man forced to teach at a charity all boys school in order to pay off a debt to his uncle.  But when he arrives at Highfell Hall, there is more going on than what meets the eye and Neil must uncover the truth of what is taking place in the mysterious Starboard Hall.  What makes Highfell Grimoires so a-m-a-z-i-n-g?The unique and intricate world.  I’m not going to try to explain it; I will only confuse myself…and you, but the world building here was perfectly executed and so vividly done. The slow pace.  But there was still a lot going on (oxymoron much?)  I savored every single word of it!The character development.  This was a very character driven story, lots of distinguished characters with diverse personalities and voices.  The boys.  Neil’s sister.  LEOFA!  And even the bad guys.   The slow-burn romance.  Oh man, the sexual tension between Neil and Leofa was lickable and they totally hit all my buttons.  The mystery.  What the hell is going on in Starboard Hall and who can be trusted?The betrayals.  Oh, there are some nasty secretes that get revealed!The twists.  Those ohmyfuckinggod moments that I never saw coming!The HEA.  I was worried there for a while but there was a perfect, heart fluttering HEA.I could NOT get enough of these characters and this world.  Team Neil and Leofa all the way.  I hope they have more adventures together in the future; although, I would be equally as happy to meet new characters and get a new romance set in this very same world.  Reviewed for The Blogger Girls

  • Ulysses Dietz
    2019-05-03 13:31

    Steampunk has a strong affinity with Dickens. Surely the setting of this novel, in a fictional but oh-so-British city called Herrow, just oozes Dickens from every literary pore. But in the steampunk world there is wonderful technology (think H.G. Wells, from the end of the 19th century); and in Langley Hyde’s vision there is magic, and love between men. So, what’s not to like? Young Lord Cornelius Franklin arrives at Highfell, bereft of his parents, who are dead, and his sister, who has gone to live with his rich step-uncle, Lord Franklin. With everything gone but his title, Neil takes a position at the charity school founded by Lord Franklin, all wide-eyed at his luck at being able to teach malleable young minds. But, what he finds is nothing like the elegant, rich schools he attended farther up in the aether. Literally and symbolically, Highfell is beneath them. Ever since I opened the first Harry Potter novel in my late thirties, I’ve been hooked on the idea of a world where magic is part of reality. Hyde’s world is analogous to our own, but magic is literally in the ether, and it is the ether (spelled anglophonically as aether) that powers the technology that makes Highfell Hall possible. Highfell is a school, boatlike in form, that floats on the aether high above the city of Herrow on the river Wyrd. There is magic at Highfell, as there is at every aetherium academy up in the sky.But Highfell Hall is not Hogwarts; it is a dark, nasty, cruel place snatched from the pages of Oliver Twist or David Copperfield. It is the anti-Hogwarts. Hyde’s narrative is rich in carefully imagined detail, giving us a full-on experience of what this crypto-Victorian world is like. But, more importantly I think, she makes the characters live on the page. Neil Franklin could have been a prig and a snob; but instead his heart opens to the desperate boys trapped at Highfell and he becomes their mentor and their protector. His initial response to the appearance of Leo – Leofa Blackwater—is every bit as snobbish and class-driven as one might expect. But Neil soon recognizes where Leofa fits into Highfell, and becomes his ally and his friend. As is also the case with Dickens, every character, great and small, is painted in full color, and given as much detail as they need to be part of the great picture created by the author. The plot is complicated and full of action, but Hyde manages to produce a cinematic clarity that keeps things moving and prevents the surprises and off-page machinations from confusing us. Everyone who’s read romances involving magic knows what a grimoire is, but even if this is your first such novel, you’ll understand soon enough. “Highfell Grimoires” is a captivating, romantic and fully engaging novel, and a masterpiece of the steampunk genre.

  • Eisheth
    2019-04-22 10:21

    Seriously good stuff! INSANELY intricate (but never confusing!) worldbuilding, compelling characters, exciting plot. Seriously, the fascinating steampunk/magical details here are mind-boggling. If the author decides to revisit this world, I'll definitely be all over that. The romance aspects were good... didn't steal my breath or anything, but they were enjoyable and well-balanced. The ending seemed a little rushed. Honestly one of the best published works I've read in quite a while. (As an aside, I basically read whatever Blind Eye Books tells me to read these days. Their catalogue is near flawless.)

  • Jax
    2019-05-14 07:09

    While successful in creating a unique and vivid setting, this didn’t really grab me. I thought much of it dragged, dwelling too long on the problems faced by the MC and then wrapping things up too quickly and easily near the end. It also had dozens of annoying little errors that required rereading sentences to make sense of them (these were mostly missing words but also extra words, wrong words, and words in the wrong order) . They were so frequent that I got distracted actively looking for the next one.

  • Sarah
    2019-05-03 07:17

    Loved the book and this is definitely an author to watch. I had a few issues with plotting, but the writing itself was a true delight. Another fantastic book from this publisher.

  • LiveYourLife BuyTheBook
    2019-04-24 10:24

    °•○★5 Stars ~ KAPOW!★○•°A "Live Your Life, Buy The Book" ReviewThis book broke up my reading funk. It's the first book in weeks that I had no trouble staying awake into the early hours of the morning to read. It would definitely be categorized as Steampunk but there's also magic and there is definitely a romance. A slow building romance but in this story it really made it more poignant. Although I fell hard for Neil and Leofa the world building is what puts this story on another level. Neil's parents have just died leaving him with their outstanding debt. Men in his situation usually have to go somewhere to work off the debt for the remainder of their lives but Neil's uncle steps up for him and his sister. Neil is given the option to be the teacher at a school of orphaned boys. In this world the school is on a ship in the sky. This creates so many obstacles and adds an element of danger throughout the story.Neil's been raised in society with money so he's a little shocked with the conditions at the school. The boys in the school are living in VERY meager existence. Not well taken care of at all. At first Neil is kind of put off by the things he has to do without but slowly he, and you as the reader, are transitioned into an us vs them mentality. The Nobsmithes are the family in charge of the school. As the story progresses you get a very clear idea of how this society works. The haves are in complete control while the lower class are used at the haves leisure. The ship is worse because it's children of all ages at the mercy of the Nobsmithes who you know from the beginning aren't good people. Neil is a good person if not a bit naive. He gets more and more brave as the book goes along. Standing up for the boys and his roommate Leofa whom he becomes friends with. They form a bond over taking care of the boys that quietly smolders into more as the book goes on. I love how innocent and sexy the longing looks and touches are throughout this book. Leaves you anticipating the moment they both realize their feelings for each other. And act on them! It was all very romantic and sexy. Falling in love should be the last thing on their minds but there's no ignoring their feelings.The main focus is uncovering what's really going on at the school and why all those boys are there. Why doesn't anybody care that they're mistreated ? Where their mysterious injuries come from? I was dying to know by the time we learn what's going on. Things don't stop there though. Just because it's all uncovered doesn't mean men in their positions can do anything to prove it over the powerful Lords. They're all at the mercy of those who hold the power. Plans and improvisation are needed to save them all.There is no way I can put the excellence of this book into words here. It's really an entire experience you should read for yourself. I found myself consumed by this world and the reality these people have found themselves in. I thought the love story was beautiful. Loving another man is still very much taboo and that adds to the danger of outing themselves. Like they don't have enough to worry about. I highly recommend this book. Can't wait to read more from this author!

  • Antonella
    2019-05-15 11:33

    4.5A great steampunk novel, lots of originality here. It is also action packed, at time I could imagine a movie. The romance is also there, but doesn't play a prominent role. Negative points for me: the wrapping up is a bit too quick and neat, some of the ''technical'' parts, for ex. about the aether, the machines, the transducer Neil is trying to invent, were a little too detailed for me, that is I could have done with less, but maybe tis is also because English is not my mother tongue.

  • Ginn Hale
    2019-04-23 10:15

    A delightful read set in a fantastical Victorian world filled with magic books, a particularly charming rouge, and huge flying ships.

  • KC
    2019-05-14 08:11

    An absolute delight! Langley's wonderful first novel has it all: cool steampunky contraptions and gadgets, characters that one cannot help but love, adventures, Dickensian villains, magic books, and sweet romance. I finished it yesterday and i already miss Neil and Leofa and friends. A book to treasure.

  • DL
    2019-05-19 09:21

    Sort of Dickens meets Ginn Hale. What fun.

  • Tracy
    2019-05-06 15:34

    3.5 starsA steampunk fantasy debut with an all boys boarding school on an airship with conspiracies, cardboard villains, adventures, and a central gay romance, marred by pacing, development, and some poor editing and typos. Lord Neil Franklin is a young man left penniless when his parents die in a tragic accident, and his Uncle Gerard's mercy allows him to teach at a low end boys boarding school, Highfell Hall, while the uncle serves as guardian to Neil's sister, Nora. The school is set on an airship and is under poor maintenance, by an unpleasant family, the Nobbsnipes, who keep themselves well fed and cared for while neglecting the school. Neil is a good-hearted person who does the best he can, but he discovers the school is a cover for dastardly deeds, finding an unexpected ally, friend, and more in his forced-to-be-roommates, Leofa.The premise sounded interesting enough, but the development and writing faltered. The development of the steampunk setting was okay. It is some imaginary Victorian-era type place, where they have magic powered by "aether" currents, which allows for the air-borne boarding schools and family grimoires that hold spells activated this aether. The grimoires and the way they work are part of the conflict. I didn't quite get the sense of this world and the use of aether and grimoires. Such as, why are there flying, air-borne schools? What kind of world or logistics makes it better sense to have these kinds of schools? The very existence of these schools is the whole setup of the Highfell Hall's crime setting. The Nobbsnipes are unpleasant, horrible people who are meant to be disliked and just obvious proof that they are the villains. For all the Victorian manners and airs that are constantly touted, it is conveniently ignored to suit the plot. For example, the Nobbsnipes' behavior is unchecked. They completely neglect their school cover. The, Neil lasts himself be bullied and snubbed by them. It seems an inappropriate set up that they forced Neil and Leofa to be roommates, and, though they were deliberately insulting Neil, it's still too much to suggest it was to deliberately to foster a relationship between them (closeness and familiarity and all).The pacing is slow for most of the book, as Neil tries to make the best of a bad situation, trying to teach, trying to figure out what's really going at Highfell Hall, and sneaking around behind the Nobbsnipes' backs, and then it picks up, rushing to the climax and resolution. There are plenty of characters behaving rashly and out of character, to conveniently advance the plot, such as convenient murder, convenient change of heart, convenient accident and subsequent death (though there was time to change the will first), convenient discovery of the final clue to an incredible invention that saves the day, quick tie-ups of the fall-out from the revelations of the Highfell Hall crimes, and some elopements (after being concerned about propriety, the characters decide to hell with it all). To be fair, the developing romance between Neil and Leofa was one of the better handled parts of the book. Hyde took her time to develop the friendship and closeness, and, though convenient, it was believable enough when Neil decided to disregard proper manners and propriety for Leofa.Besides the Nobbsnipes, the other villains were too detestable and two dimensional to ever be developed characters. Even to minor characters, like the Highfell guards, it was clear who readers were supposed to care and sympathize with or not. Then, there were typos and even missing words in sentences that were distracting and just added to the sense that though this book was a decent read, it could have been a lot better.

  • Sieran
    2019-05-07 08:25

    Man, what a richly textured and lovely book. What struck me most about Highfell Grimoires, were the setting descriptions. They are simply beautiful. Their sentences are pleasantly cadenced, with interesting and precise word choices, all blended together to paint those vivid surroundings. This is what I call juicy setting descriptions! The prose was finely balanced and satisfying in rhythm too, and the sounds of the words and flow of the sentences were quite musical and strong, which is suitable for Neil’s first person narrative, as he’s very into music! The gracefulness of the prose also fits with his elegant and sometimes holier-than-thou personality.Yet, in spite of Neil’s flaws, I really liked him. He’s generous, kind, and caring, which was probably why Leofa fell in love with him. It’s pretty funny how vain Neil is sometimes too; normally, I find clothing descriptions dreadfully boring, but Neil’s descriptions of what colors he wants to wear were actually enjoyable to read because he somehow manages to express how he feels about his fashion choices to us. His wardrobe could be seen as a type of character development (or character revelation) as well. Nonetheless, I was glad to see how his personality and values changed (for the better) by the end of the novel.For Leofa, I didn’t feel as strongly towards him, though I do quite like him. He’s a cool and awesome person worthy of both our love and respect; yet maybe he’s too masculine and “rough” for my taste, since I prefer more feminine or androgynous boys like Cornelius (Neil). The romance between Neil and Leofa was quite sweet and romantic, and the kissing scenes were great! I liked reading about the issue of homophobia in their society, and it’s interesting though sad that they call gay men “inverts,” like there’s something wrong with being attracted to fellow men.There were some other characters in the book that I liked, for instance, Honoria (Neil’s younger sister) and Stanley (one of Neil’s students.)Many sci-fi and fantasy elements were interesting, like how grimoire spell casting works, and the stuff about aether, aetheria, bloodlocks, and the Pyxis trap. Even the names of these things sound beautiful and rich!The only thing that was a problem in the book, was that there were quite a lot of typographical errors; but I loved and appreciated Highfell Grimoires so much that I didn’t take off any stars for that.I wish there was a sequel to Highfell Grimoires!

  • Tim Hicks
    2019-04-27 15:23

    This book has some good ideas but needed a good copy editor and a good overall editor. I was put off early by "thought I would step foot on one," and there are at least a dozen glaring copy errors. First, you need to know that this is a steampunk adventure in a Dickensian setting, but it is also a story about a young man coming to terms with his homosexuality. If you're not comfortable having both at once, skip this book because you won't enjoy it. The latter part is handled well enough, but in a world of steampunk stories that don't discuss sex in any form, it was distracting at times. Nevertheless, it's probably high time someone wrote such a story. The whole story with the grimoires was reasonably well handled and explained. I hope this is aimed at a YA audience, in which case I will not complain that a few plot developments were just a bit too predictable. Roger's too nasty a villain to be anywhere outside Dickens, and would have been better with a little touch of humanity, maybe some motivation other than the joy of being nasty. While peripheral characters were discarded, I never felt as if anything our heroes tried had any real risk of failing. And if airships could get into fatal trouble as easily as they do here, they wouldn't have developed as far as they have. I'll give a point for having Neil be a bit of a dork, really, for a guy who's a skilled scientist and more-or-less qualified teacher. OK, maybe more than a bit of a dork. And we see that all he really needed was a bit of the real world. I doubt that I'll read another Hyde. I'd first look for another Cherie Priest or similar.

  • Julesmarie
    2019-04-30 12:07

    The most Dickensian take on Steampunk I've discovered yet. The focus on the gray, sooty, decaying poor side of life made this feel one of the least fun Steampunk stories I've read yet.It's just so depressing to think that even in a world where magic can work together with science to make spectacular inventions that society would be structured so similarly to our boring un-magical one. Steampunk until now has been a delightful escape from reality for me (my main motivation for reading!), but this wasn't at all fun to read. Too much starvation and desperation.Some Favorite Quotes:No, fleeing would change nothing but my surroundings.I contemplated these separate experiences, how they shaped us, and how they brought us together. It reminded of melody and countermelody, but played as equals. So at first it sounded like nothing but chaos, nothing but competing noise, and then, they came together, suddenly, in perfect balance, and the entire song made sense."Sometimes accepting what is unfair is part of growing up. But there's the things that are worth getting angry over."(view spoiler)["I love you. I want to stay with you. I want to buy you decent shoes. You need socks."He laughed, his dark eyes glinting. "Say that again.""You need socks?" I repeated."Not that."The look on his face gave me a breathless happiness. (hide spoiler)]

  • C.
    2019-04-29 15:19

    I normally don't enjoy steam punk, so I was hesitant to pick this up, but I'm glad I did.The story is executed well and has just enough mystery to keep you hooked. The characters have distinct personalities and feel like real human beings. The world is interesting and the magic system is fairly unique.The writing is also good, though I do have some complaints here. I felt like the author was trying to shove the steam punk setting in the reader's face for much of the first chapter. The descriptions were excessive and shouted 'Look, this is so steam punk, everything is steam punk,' and this really lowered my (already low) expectations for the book. However, the author really eased up on it afterwards. The only other problem is lack of editing, though there's nothing majorly bad. A few missing words or grammatical errors, but the story is engrossing enough that the reader can skim past them.I'm really looking forward to the author's future work.

  • April
    2019-05-20 08:15

    Highfell Grimoires was a great read! I fell in love with it very quickly but I especially fell in love with Leofa. His and Neil's relationship develops nicely seems to happen so naturally, it is beautifully done.Overall, I give the story, plot, characters, theme - steampunk! The first of its kind I've ever read btw, and I'm thoroughly delighted! - I give all of those elements a five-star rating. The only reason I give this book officially a four-star rating is the poor proof reading. There are too many errors that were overlooked for my liking. They are minor, mainly missing words, but they are significant in a published work. So I hope, if a second edition is released, that those unfortunate errors will be corrected.But other than that, Ms Langley Hyde now has a new fan and I HIGHLY recommend this book to anyone into steampunk and a good m/m romance as well!

  • Denise
    2019-04-23 14:19

    An incredible Steampunk delight! The world building is excellent and highly original. There are a few plot twists that are quite surprising, and I've fallen in love with Leofa, Neil and the students of Highfell Hall.

  • Ayanna
    2019-04-23 08:22

    Huh. I don't know if I actively like it/liked it, per se, but it does have its charm. And I sat through the whole thing, so there's that, too. Huh.

  • Aimee
    2019-05-21 07:33

    I really enjoyed this M/M steampunk. In a way, the ending seemed to wrap things up too neatly, but that's what I like in a romance.

  • Mandapanda
    2019-05-20 14:23

    4.5 stars. Top-notch m/m steampunk romantic fantasy.

  • Idamus
    2019-05-20 12:13

    Very good world building, I never really warmed towards Neil, I found him naive for way too long