cover image Something Spectacular

Something Spectacular

Alexis Hall. Montlake, $16.99 trade paper (336p) ISBN 978-1-5420-3528-6

Gleefully anachronistic and spectacularly queer, this Regency sequel to Something Fabulous feels like Hall is really having fun. Arabella Tarleton has had many lovers, but she’s never been in love and, out of boredom and desperation, decides it’s high time she try it. She picks famed opera singer Orfeo, a castrato, as her romantic object, but, unfortunately, being in their presence reduces her sharp wit to meaningless babble. She enlists her far more sensible best friend, nonbinary Peggy Delancey, who has pined for Arabella for years, to “play Cesario to [Arabella’s] Orsino” and plead her suit to Orfeo. From their first meeting—during which the beauty of Orfeo’s voice causes Peggy to faint—Peggy and Orfeo’s interactions exist in a heightened, almost operatic register of bared souls and tender touches, which can feel tonally inconsistent with the flippant, campy quality of the scenes between Peggy, Arabella, and their delightful found family of friends. The pair bond deeply over their complex relationships to gender—but Orfeo, who is portrayed as a Bowie-esque rock star, claims to have eyes only for their music and Peggy is reluctant to put herself through yet more unrequited love. Readers are advised to leave their historical scruples at the door and enjoy this indulgent treat for what it is. Agent: Courtney Miller-Callihan, Handspun Literary. (Apr.)