The Devils Trill Sonata, Matthew J. Metzger
Publisher: JMS Books
Genre: New Adult, LGBT (G), Psychological
Length: 83,448 words
Purchase At: JMS Books, amazon.com (coming soon)
Today, I have delved into the world of The Devil’s Trill Sonata, sequel to the second placed novel, Vivaldi in the Dark, in my Books of 2013. The author was also the winner of my newcomer award last year, and it is an understatement to say that I was champing at the bit to read this.
***WARNING: The Devil’s Trill Sonata does contain mature themes such as self-harm, depression, bullying and attempted suicide. If you feel you cannot cope with depictions of these themes please do not read this review and take it into consideration before reading this book.***
“This is going to be my year.”
Jayden and Darren were two of my favourite characters from last year in Vivaldi in the Dark, and I have desperately been looking forward to this sequel, to the point of waking up at 4:30 a.m. just to get it as soon as I could. I highly recommend before anyone reads this that they look at the first book, because otherwise none of this will make any sense…
Three years after that first meeting in a theatre storeroom, Jayden Phillips and Darren Peace are separating for the first time, trading in school for the trappings of adult life. Jayden has achieved his dream of a place at Cambridge University; Darren has achieved his own of escaping the Cold War of home and tasting true independence for the first time.
A hundred miles apart and embarking on two very different paths, Jayden feels it is inevitable that time and distance will slowly pull them apart. School relationships, after all, don’t last. Darren disagrees — at first. Love is all they need, and they have weathered harder storms than chasing dreams.
That is until the separation, and the encroaching influence of Jayden’s new friends, begins to take its toll on Darren’s mental state. Alone, he descends in a rapid downward spiral that is finally arrested by one night and a drastic course of action. In the wake of a single unanswered phone call, Jayden learns that time and distance have the power to do much more than break a relationship.
The dream is over — and the reality is far, far worse.
Why This Sequel is Another Mind-Blowingly Excellent Book
An Intriguing Relationship
For the last three years Jayden and Darren have been each other’s rock, complementing the other with support and helping each other through the difficult times. For this seemingly stable relationship to be suddenly thrust into long distance mode is fascinating to say the least.
Each event over this fateful year shreds away another layer of the stable relationship they had lovingly built together in the preceding years. At times it is heartbreaking to see as both Jayden and Darren present irrational demands and expectations to each other, typical of teenage boys. But at the same time it is understandable as they both try to adapt to their new, separate lives whilst desperately trying to hold onto the past.
Taking What Was Great, Making it Even Better
Sequels are, in my opinion, very difficult things to produce across all forms of media. Authors and producers have to tread the fine line between what the fans loved in the first iteration, and still presenting new themes, stories and characters.
Luckily for me (and all other readers, I guess…) The Devil’s Trill Sonata is one of those sequels that treads that line perfectly. The treatment of depression and suicide was just as good as the first book, the realism is back with a roar and, at the same time, I felt that the story and world were expanded to a level beyond what I thought was initially possible.
Use of Music
The Devil’s Trill Sonata, composed by Giuseppe Tartini, forms an integral part of this story. (Hence the title.) Legend is that the Devil appeared to Tartini in a dream and played a beautiful piece of music. Upon waking Tartini tried to replicate the music, but could not ever reach what he considered to be the true version of the song. The end result was a sonata that, whilst considered excellent, cannot live up to Tartini’s dream.
Jayden and Darren’s lives are wonderfully compared to this hauntingly beautiful piece of music, and it is reflected in key scenes throughout the novel. The music is deeply embedded into The Devil’s Trill Sonata, and the way in which it impacts everyone over this chaotic year is a true pleasure to read.
The One Slightly Off Thing That Barely Matters
Through the book, the story alternates between Jayden and Darren, which leads to a couple of jumps in time when switching to the alternate protagonist. It lead to an occasional confusion as to whether certain events, that had happened to one boy, had happened yet for the other. The confusion was limited and, overall, had a minor impact on reading. Thus it did not affect my rating, yet it still needed to be said.
Wow. Just wow.
Never before have I been so looking forward to a sequel and, in the end, it did not let me down in the slightest. Character progression, realism and the fantastic writing style of Mr. Metzger all contribute to my favourite book of the year (thus far; after all the third in this trilogy is due for release later in the year.) I read this in essentially one sitting, and there aren’t many books that can do that to me. The Devil’s Trill Sonata has personally set a new bar, which other books must strive to.
“They had survived – survived the worst Jayden could imagine – and in the air-conditioned taxi in a relaxed silence, he felt the solid weight of conviction in the middle of his chest. They were going to make it.”