A perfect ending to THE best historical young adult series. Ever. You can quote me on that.
Book: The Nobleman’s Guide To Scandal and Shipwrecks
Author: Mackenzie Lee
Published: Nov 2021
Adrian Montague has a bright future. The sole heir to his father’s estate, he is an up and coming political writer and engaged to an activist who challenges and inspires him. But most young Lords aren’t battling the debilitating anxiety Adrian secretly lives with, or the growing fear that it might consume him and all he hopes to accomplish. In the wake of his mother’s unexpected death, Adrian is also concerned people will find out that he has the mental illness she struggled with for years.
When a newly found keepsake of hers-a piece of a broken spyglass-comes into Adrian’s possession, he’s thrust into the past and finds himself face to face with an older brother he never knew he had. Henry “Monty” Montague has been living quietly in London for years, and his sudden appearance sends Adrian on a quest to unravel family secrets that only the spyglass can answer.
I read some very good series last year. The Montague Siblings books are hilarious, campy and bittersweet and this was my highest anticipated reads of 2020. If you haven’t heard of them, first of all read them and fill your life with serotonin and adventure. Secondly, the first two books in the series are set one year apart and follow siblings Monty and Felicity respectively. However, The Nobleman’s Guide picks up 19 years later, following the much younger brother of the characters of the first two books. Capiche? While it was a little disconcerting seeing my favourite characters leap from being teenagers to 37, you barely feel the age gap between Monty, Felicity and Adrian. This isn’t hindered by how Monty and Felicity still behave like children towards each other, and make me ugly cackle with laughter multiple times. And sob, but more on that later.
My favourite part of The Montague Siblings series is how each book focuses on parts of life that you almost never see represented in historical young adult books, or historical novels in general. A Gentleman’s Guide To Vice And Virtue is about Monty’s experience as a queer teenager in 18th century Europe (check out my review here!) while A Lady’s Guide To Petticoats And Piracy focuses on women and their struggles, especially women in science. You can find my review here. This final book centers around Adrian and his mental health – and is one of the best portrayals I’ve seen of mental health problems in any YA book, historical or otherwise. The parallel between Monty and Adrian as vulnerable teenagers was so well done, and made me tear up a bit when they were each helping each other get by. Slightly predictable character development, but so well done all the same.
Another thing that I love about the series is how each book has a slightly different narrative voice. They’re first person and it fits the characters’ personalities: Monty’s was very coquettish and funny; Felicity’s is so sarcastic. I love how much thought the author puts in. This book had some incredibly beautiful moments of writing, and a tendency to use lots of metaphors which is unlike the other books but suited Adrian’s personality as a writer. It was different, but I really liked it.
The final thing that sets the book apart is Adrian’s established relationship. Book One had pining, book two had exceptional ace representation, while book three has Adrian engaged from the first page and god I love this series. Some books should have stayed stand alone, but this series works SO WELL. However, I sometimes wished it was more romance focused, only because I know that the author is so good at it. Monty and Percy are just so well written, but we don’t get to see a lot of Adrian and his fiancee. This again sets the series apart from most YA books, with only one out of three books being romance focused, proving twice that it’s possible to have utterly brilliant books without romance!
The plot had me on the edge of my seat (the author is mean with my feelings) and balances out world building and character development. The visual aesthetic of the book is GORGEOUS too. Check trigger warnings before you read, but there was nothing I thought was unnecessary or added for shock value as I saw one review say. I think this series will fast become my comfort book – it feels as though the characters are speaking out of the page. I just can’t recommend this series enough.
To sum up, The Nobleman’s Guide didn’t beat the first two books, but it’s a very close second. You need to read the series in order, or else you’ll miss out on the introduction of past characters and grinning like a madman with tears in your eyes. (The EPILOGUE! The rest of the book was incredibly good, but the epilogue knocked it out of the park. On its own, the epilogue is the best thing I’ve ever read.). The Nobleman’s Guide certainly put my heart through its paces, and if you want an utterly fun, heartwarming, bittersweet read it’s for you. Rated E for Emotional.