Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Devil’s Trill Sonata (Vivaldi in The Dark #2) by Matthew J. Metzger ~ Guest Post, Review and Giveaway

Devil's Trill Sonata

Absence makes the heart grow fonder or out of sight out of mind? Jayden and Darren have to find this one out for themselves and their relationship is put to the test due to new locations, new beginnings and new friends.

Matthew J. Metzger continues their story and what a heart rending, emotional tug-o-war he puts us through. Read what he says about the whole idea.


A Word from Matthew

I'm not a musician.

It's something I've been asked repeatedly since Vivaldi in the Dark was contracted for publication. My editor asked it first, and she was echoed by reviewers and readers when it came out. The Devil's Trill Sonata generated more of the same - the editor even asked again! And I don't doubt some people will ask when Rhapsody on a Theme, the final part of the trilogy, is released on the 18th May.

So before we go any further, let's make it clear: I'm not. I'm so far from being a musician it's laughable. I am quite possibly the least musically talented person in the universe. My brother has more musical talent than me, and he's half-deaf. Hell, my cat has more musical talent than me.

We just didn't do music in our house. I'm the product of two musically idiotic parents, and I didn't do any of this regression-to-the-mean stuff either. I'm hopeless. It was obvious I was hopeless by the time I was three and banging away on those plastic xylophone kits little kiddies get. I am not, in any way, shape or form, musical.

So why the hell did I write a trilogy about music?

Well, the short answer is - I didn't.

The Devil's Trill Sonata is a book about depression, about separation, about both having depression and being with someone who has depression. It forms the middle section of a trilogy about depression. Its protagonist, Darren Peace, suffers from depression and happens to be a musician. That's it.

But the long answer is - I did. I did write a trilogy about music, but in much more abstract terms than that.

Originally, the story stopped with Vivaldi in the Dark. It was only halfway through writing the first novel that I realised Darren and Jayden's story does not stop there, and suddenly I was left trying to connect three novels with something that could create both hope for their long-term future, and despair for their short-term problems.

The music isn't the point of this trilogy. The music is a backdrop, the stage on which this trilogy plays out. Because in the music, we can watch Darren's life changing.

Antonio Vivaldi wrote a lot of music (a lot of music, holy hell) but this volume was supposedly described by Igor Stravinsky as 'Vivaldi did not write 400 concertos; he wrote one concerto 400 times.' That numbing repetitiveness formed the backdrop for Vivaldi in the Dark - the inescapable tedium in which Darren is trapped. Breaking out of it - and out of playing the violin - was his challenge, as it is for anyone who suffers from depression (or indeed any other mental illness).

The Devil's Trill Sonata was a beauty of a find. Trawling through Wikipedia to find some classical musician I could use for the second novel, I found instead a story of a sonata. Giuseppe Tartini dreamed one night of Satan coming to him and playing his violin. The Devil produced the most beautiful music that Tartini had ever heard, and when the composer woke, he rushed to the violin to try and replicate that music. The result was the Sonata in G Minor - commonly called the Devil's Trill Sonata - but for Tartini it fell far short of the dream.

"The music which I at this time composed is indeed the best that I ever wrote, and I still call it the "Devil's Trill", but the difference between it and that which so moved me is so great that I would have destroyed my instrument and have said farewell to music forever if it had been possible for me to live without the enjoyment it affords me." (See here.)

The Devil's Trill Sonata was formed around the framework of that sonata - a dream that both Darren and Jayden pursue, but falls so far short of what either of them had hoped for. The dream that almost destroys them both.

So where did that leave me? The repetitive, the destructive - and then the finale.

I wanted to make the final novel a break from the first two. I had taken the violin twice, but Darren had been created as both a violinist and a pianist. So I turned to the piano to find something else - and found, in another Wikipedia trawl, Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini.

Most of us know a rhapsody as some ecstatic happiness, but in music it also refers to a change. Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini is a work by Rachmaninov. Effectively it's a shuffle of some of the compositions written by Paganini. Paganini wrote for the violin, whereas the Rhapsody was written for a piano. And with the double meaning of the very word rhapsody, I knew I had my piece.

"A rhapsody in music, it''s like a composition or a change-up, hence the name of the work. But also...because rhapsody means ecstasy, happiness...good things. Which is a change for me. So I can look at this, and...things have changed. My own private rhapsody on a theme." - Darren Peace, Rhapsody on a Theme.

The trilogy isn't about music. There's very little focus on what Darren does - but there's a lot of focus on how he feels, and a lot of little places where the music shapes the story over all three books. It's not about music...but without the music, the books would not be written the way they are, or even written at all. Without the music, there wouldn't be the power.

Because that's what music is to me: I'm not musical in any way, but that doesn't mean music doesn't have the power to affect how we feel, doesn't have beauty and strength and even destructiveness. Music - like any art form - can both be controlled and take control. And if any part of this trilogy was strictly about the music, then maybe it was that power.

(Interestingly, I eventually came full-circle. After amusing myself in the conception of the first book with Stravinsky's criticism of Vivaldi, I found - long after finishing the final book - another quote from him. On Rachmaninov. Being 'a six and a half foot scowl.')



Title: The Devil’s Trill Sonata

Author: Matthew J. Metzger

Publisher: JMS Books

Released: 2nd March 2014

Genre: M/M (contemporary)

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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.

Mark’s Review

Absence makes the heart grow fonder or out of sight out of mind? Jayden and Darren have to find this one out for themselves and their relationship is put to the test due to new locations, new beginnings and new friends.


School is over and Jayden and Darren have to part ways. Jayden is off to Cambridge University to start his studies after winning his scholarship and Darren has gone to Southampton to start his job training in the police as a crime scene investigator. This rips them apart but then as we know when school is finished then real life takes over and it isn’t always easy. The book describes perfectly the trials and tribulations of dealing with a long distance relationship. Jayden wonders whether the relationship will last and Darren hopes beyond all hope that Jayden will stay with him. I just loved the way that Matthew treats this subject with a good amount of reality and that even they are both now adults, they are still very impressionable and changes start to take place as they try to adapt to their new surroundings and not to mention the new friends. Here again the people Jayden is making friends with are totally different to the ones Darren is making. To be honest Darren never finds it very easy to make friends anyway and only has one, Rachel, the junior school teacher who lives in the bedsit opposite his.

After arriving at Cambridge Jayden starts to make friends and the obvious game of trying to fit in and impress starts. All his Uni mates tell him that school relationships never last and will inevitably fizzle out. Jayden is determined to stay with Darren but starts to have doubts. The only contact they have is through chatting online, Facebook, texting and Skyping. However, Darren was never the most talkative and Jayden has so much work on with his studies and exams they both find it difficult to communicate effectively. You can feel the change start to happen in Jayden as he adapts to his surroundings and effectively starts to drift away from Darren almost taking him for granted. This was obviously upsetting for me as I read but at the same time also realistic. Jayden is trying to fit into his new surroundings and Darren in the meantime is getting huge doses of reality in his job training which totally polarises them both . Jayden living in his somewhat idealistic world and Jayden being confronted with the harsh realities of life.

When Darren comes to visit Jayden in Uni they have a falling out as Jayden’s new Uni friends don’t accept him and see him as brash and outspoken. Darren sees how Jayden is trying to impress them by drinking wine, something he never did before and are not really good for Jayden as friends. This upsets Jayden and puts even more doubts in his mind. I remember after leaving school I joined the Royal Air Force and my best friend went to London University. When I went to visit her and her friends I remember sitting in the pub thinking to myself, “What sort of crap are they talking about, they have no idea about the real bloody world.” That was probably because I was getting huge doses of reality every day in the military. So I could definitely relate to Darren on this one, seeing his boyfriend drift off into academia, changing in front of his eyes. This of course only frustrates Jayden as he thinks Darren is being disrespectful of his friends.

Darren is still fighting his depression and I felt so sorry for him. What an awful illness to have and at such a young age. Then the nemesis comes, Jayden cancels his weekend visit that Darren has been looking forward to for a long time and sets him on course for another dark encounter with his depression. Jayden has decided to go to Paris with his Uni friends, an offer from Jonathan’s rich dad, and Jayden can’t resist as he has never been outside of the UK before or travelled much at all. I mean who couldn’t resist? Jayden’s loyalties are now torn but still decides to go, but when he gets back he jumps on the the next train down to Southampton. Now here I did feel like Darren was behaving very selfishly. He has rich parents and has visited these places at a young age, but Jayden has never had the opportunity. So I think it would be only right to let Jayden go and wish him a wonderful time. This is where we realise the depth of emotion that Darren has for Jayden and is in some ways dependent on him for coping with his illness. When Jayden does come to visit this leads to the first real fight between them, but they manage to sort things out and get their relationship back on track.

However, Darren sees Jayden changing more and more and subsequently his moods become darker and darker. Again it was absolutely heart wrenching to read how depression affects people and as I said in my review in the first book Vivaldi in the Dark I have now come to appreciate more what a debilitating thing this is. Darren’s friend Rachel takes him to a concert after she learns that he is actually a talented musician and upon hearing the strings, this sets Darren off onto a road of despair, thoroughly believing his relationship with Jayden to be over.

At the risk of being spoilery, which I always try to avoid, but I feel I really need to mention something here. So therefore I’m going out on a limb and taking that risk.

Darren hits such a low that he takes an overdose. Now suicide attempts I guess are not what every reader is going to feel comfortable with reading, I certainly wasn’t sure either to begin with. So it totally pushed my boundaries to say the least. But all I can say is this is so beautifully written (if not a contradiction in terms) that you feel the emotional despair in Darren. This chapter was harrowing, distressing, agonizing and heart-breaking all in one, but also so sensitively and realistically written that I couldn’t help but completely understand Darren in his despair and everything being accompanied literally by The Devil’s Trill Sonata by Guiseppe Tartini. Once again the violin and it’s music symbolising Darren’s darkest emotions. If you’re brave enough and fancy listening to it whilst reading this chapter then here is an excerpt below. I studied music before joining the RAF, actually I was a musician (Clarinettist) for the RAF, and I could hear this music in my head as I was reading. Good job I didn’t really listen to it whilst reading this chapter otherwise I would have been reduced to an emotional wreck myself. Extremely powerful writing and using the abstract descriptive device of the music to portray the ever darkening mood, brilliant!

So back to life, back to reality. This puts Jayden in a complete flat spin and he hurries to his side. Now it’s make or break time. They have a lot of talking to do and a lot of things to sort out. Once again they stay at Jayden’s parent’s house. Gawd, how I love Jayden’s parents. These characters are also one of the best parts of this series. They are supportive, loving and realistic to both boys and provide a safe haven and solid rock of support in the storm. Even when you are a fledging adult, it’s always nice to know you can come home and enjoy the safety and comfort of family.  Well in Jayden’s case anyway, but they have more or less adopted Darren as son-in-law. While they are staying with Jayden’s parent’s, Jayden also has time to reflect on his situation. He feels maybe Cambridge wasn’t what is was all cracked up to be, the reality being very different from the dream and the friends may not be quite the right choice. Darren gets to hear some hard truths from Jayden’s father which results in a turn around in Darren’s way of thinking and sets him on track to tackle this illness. Realising if he doesn’t get to grips with it, he’ll only eventually pull Jayden down with him. Will this be enough though? That is the question here. I would like to think that he loves Jayden enough to really make an effort.

So as with life, both guys leave school and for the first time face the harsh realities of the real world, putting their relationship to the real test; a make or break situation. This book ends on a HFN note and you know they still have a lot to sort out and will have to weather a lot more turmoil caused by distance and young characters being molded by different circumstances, experiences and surroundings. Again you’ll be taken on an emotional ride and drawn into dark emotional depths, but then just as hard as you fall, you’ll be uplifted again at the end which makes it all the more beautiful. For now all I can do is wish Darren and Jayden all the best and will meet them again in book three, Rhapsody on a Theme, to see how they are faring.



About The Author


Matthew J. Metzger – or Matt, as he is more generally known – is as much a character as the people in his books. Matt is a 23-year-old perpetual mess currently living in England, one of the bigger chunks of the United Kingdom. He writes on the side of life, given that most of it is devoted to his job (full-time suit wearer),his love of hiking (hills are there to be walked on), and paying the bills (alas, life). He has a generally busy life as an office drone, conman, and speaker of strange things. It is a somewhat satisfying existence.

Matt writes in most genres. His first novel, Our Last Summer, is a coming-of-age LGBT romance set near the hometown and experiences of Matt himself in the south of England. His second, Vivaldi in the Dark, deals with clinical depression, another area in which Matt arguably has a fair amount of experience. His hopeful third, Exosphere, is a science fiction novel about terrorism. Consistency is not a key characteristic of Matt or his author.

Contact The Author

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Reading Order and Purchase Links


1) Vivaldi In The Dark


JMS Books



2) The Devil’s Trill Sonata


JMS Books



2) Rhapsody on a Theme (release 18th May)


JMS Books

Amazon links to follow when made available




Matthew will be giving away one ebook copy of The Devil’s Trill Sonata to one lucky winner. Enter the rafflecopter below ~ GOOD LUCK!

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  1. I have not but they sound awesome

  2. Have not had the pleasure of reading any of theses books. TRying to clear my kindle and the stacks of paperbacks that I currently have. When reading a series I always start at the beginning.

  3. I haven't read them, but would like to.

  4. I bought Vivaldi in the Dark after reading some great reviews. It's on my Kindle and I will be reading it soon. :-)

  5. I haven't read this author as yet

  6. I have not had a chance to read or review any of Matthew's books as he is a new author to me.

    Congratulations Matthew on the new release and series. Would love the opportunity to read and review at The Reading Cafe. Thanks for the giveaway opportunity. sandy (at)thereadingcafe(dot)com

  7. I'd love to read this one!

  8. No, I have not read any of these yet. I would love to read Vivaldi in the Dark!

    cguidroz2 (at) cox (dot) net

  9. This sounds like an awesome series! I have not read any of them but have added to my wish list. Thanks for the chance at winning one.

  10. I have not read any of the books in this series yet, but they are all on my TBR list. They have some wonderful reviews!

  11. I haven't read any of these books, but the series sounds great.

  12. I haven't read any of these yet, but they sound great!

  13. I haven't read them, but heard great things! Thanks for the giveaway!

  14. Another new to me author, and the series sounds great!


  15. I loved Vivaldi; it was an amazing story! Thank you so much for your review on this beautiful series and for a chance to win.

  16. this is the first time I've heard of these books and this author but they sound so good~ <3

  17. This is the first have heard of the author and books but they are definitely going on my TBR.

  18. I've never had a chance to read these books, but I'd like to!

  19. Sounds fantastic. Thank you for a chance to win.

  20. I haven't read any of these, but the idea of the theme of music tying them together is interesting. I'd love to read the first of the series.

  21. I haven't read them, but they're on my TBR!