Island of Icarus by Christine Danse is a gay romance with a bit of steampunk mixed in. The novella follows Jonathan, a man who recently lost a portion of his arm and most of his previous life with it. Jonathan is sent by the dean of his university to recuperate on the Galápagos Islands, as Jonathan hasn’t been himself since the accident. On the boat to the Galápagos, Jonathan falls overboard in a storm and wakes up on the shore of a small island with an unknown man tending him. Soon he learns that this man, Marcus, was also stranded on the island but now prefers to stay on the island in solitude and be true to himself, rather than returning to society and living a lie. Jonathan finds himself attracted to Marcus. Romance ensues.
A touching story
This is the perfect novella. It could be expanded into its own novel, but Island of Icarus is also fine as it is. The story of Jonathan’s development and self-realization is executed very well, and I enjoyed how it was well-paced without being too swift, as most novellas tend to be. It was a little risqué at times—in fact, there are two very sexual scenes—but they were tastefully done and I felt that they developed the story well.
Lack of character definition
Jonathan is given a wonderful backstory, which makes sense as this story is told from his point of view, but Marcus is given very, very little. There is one point in this story where Marcus says that he preferred to stay on the island instead of living a lie in ‘proper’ society, and he mentions a previous lover—but that’s it. I find Marcus to be an incredibly intriguing character, but the only thing that we really know about him is that he has a fascination with birds and wings, as well as a related desire to fly. It just wasn’t enough for me.
Why should you read this book?
Island of Icarus has a very limited audience—unless you’re a person who enjoys gay romance, tinged with erotica and set in a slightly steampunk world, this probably isn’t the novella for you (which is unfortunate, because it pretty much is the perfect novella). It’s beautifully set up and told in a way that made it believable without making it sound sappy, which is a pretty big feat for a romance piece.