This is one of those rare audio books that will gently push everything else out of your head, a thoroughly engrossing tale told in a voice that will s..Show More »oothe, seduce and excite.
The characters in "Widdershins" are very compelling, and the narrator gives each just enough nuance without intruding on my freedom to imagine. The story starts tugging at my curiosity right off the bat. Within a few pages, I am drawn to Percival Endicott Whyborne -- he has an endearing clumsiness and is so shy I really want to follow him to see why.
The mystery unfolds at a tantalizing pace. Hints are dropped every few pages: a mysterious cipher needs translating, tied to a murder of a wealthy young man “in a seedy part of town.” As it escalates, the richly woven tale incorporates elements of the occult, an ancient Egyptian curse, a secret cult, hideous carnivorous monsters and more. And it is all experienced through the very accessible perspective of our very likable hero.
In addition to the scholarly Whyborne, the book is populated by several enticing players: the dashing detective Griffin Flaherty, the feisty and loyal Dr. Christine Putnam, and a colorful cast of thugs, hookers, pompous bosses and a creepy old-world ghoul. These characters are drawn so well that I can really see them as I listen.
The narration spirals in on you. The first few pages feel aloof and have some technical problems that are unfortunate, but these glitches soon clear up and the timbre of this narrator’s voice comes through clearly. He seems just right for Whyborne: youthful, intelligent, and hesitant, at first. But as the story progresses, as the character grows in confidence, the narrator seems to come closer to the reader’s ear. It’s a pleasant sensation, soothing and familiar.
There is also another sort of suspense, even more adroitly developed. When Whyborne becomes all aflutter over Griffin, the story takes on steam, building up an erotic attraction between two men that, in the Victorian setting, would have been extremely taboo. But this is not a “gay romance” so much as a good story that just happens to include gay characters. The story is erotic, but not tawdry. This is a firstly a suspenseful mystery, then a romance and a love story. Sex comes in due course, but it is not the center of the story. I like that, and the narrator is very good at imbuing these characters with just the right amount of personality to support the carefully crafted sensuality at which Jordan L. Hawk excels.
For me, there are multiple memorable moments in the tantalizing escalation of the romantic attachment between the two lead characters (who just happen to be men). I think this would work equally well for a man and a woman, but there are also unique aspects to a gay romance that the author captures with great sensitivity. The narrator is right there, making these increasingly-erotic encounters both believable and, admittedly, a bit arousing.
I suppose my favorite moment is when Griffin and Whyborne escape hideous monsters by setting off an explosion, and are blown out of the old house and land in the snow. The masculine, muscular Griffin lands on top of the slight, delicate Whyborne, pinning him down. There is a fantastically erotic moment, when Griffin gently asks Whyborne "What am I to do with you?" And Whyborne -- stepping across a hitherto taboo threshold -- says "Whatever you want."
That, and the ending, resonate for me as perfect renditions of a love story between two men, who are perfectly matched.
"Widdershins" is breaking new ground, I think -- moving the genre of "gay fiction" several leagues forward. It's hard to find quality fiction with prominent gay characters. So often, books featuring gay characters make that gayness the center of attention, and the story is all about simplistic sex and "hot" this and "hot" that, shimmering torsos and shallow dialogue. We are beyond that. Widdershins is a gripping story by a talented writer who totally "gets" the nuances of gay romance, read by a narrator who clearly knows whereof he speaks.
Another great story, and great narration. Percival Whyborne's father hired Griffin Flaherty to investigate why workers keep going missing at his mine ..Show More »located at Threshold Mountain. He had already hired a bunch of security, including Griffin's ex lover Elliot. Whyborne began experiencing insecurity in his relationship with Griffin as Elliot began disrupting their relationship and the investigation. What is lurking in that cave and are the missing people dead or alive?
I am surprised at how much I enjoyed this series because this isn't a romance series. It's mystery, supernatural, thriller with romance as a side dish. But I like how Whyborne is growing a pair and starting to act with more confidence. I like him and Griffin and that mouthy Christine. They are a trio, but not a menage and it works well as an investigation partnership.
I don't know how many books are in this series, but I hope they keep coming. This is a wonderful 3rd installment in the Whyborne & Griffin romance/ad..Show More »ventures. This is a turning point in their relationship, as well as Whyborne's increasing paranormal abilities. The story continues to bring the tenderness and love of their relationship by introducing more of Griffin's backstory and a visit from his parents. Of course chaos of the paranormal kind ensues. I loved it. Definitely worth a credit, but you really have to read this series in order.
This is definitely my favourite Whyborne & Griffin story yet. I love stories set in Egypt and their mythology, so that gave it an extra draw for me. ..Show More »I don't want to give anything away, so I will just say, things look good for Christine...
Hoarfrost mostly is business as usual, but in a good way. It spins on the threads of plot delivered before, it adds some new, it gives more hints ..Show More »and explores further... If you liked the previous books, you will also like this, I would say.
I can really only lay my finger on three things I did feel could have been better (or more to my liking) but none of it is really something missing, it is actually more what I would like for the next ones.
1. No direct appearance of Whyborne senior, I always liked how the father son relationship was worked since it always managed to subtly show that it was more complicated than just the usual "terrible father". 2. Griffin mostly on the receiving end.I just think that he makes the better dominant partner all in all, or it might be that it is that the dynamic in the first two books was more easy to relate to me personally as a gay man. 3. A bit less horror. Continuing the trend of book five in particular, it is more conciliatory towards the "eldritch horrors", which is not bad, but I do hope we get something really alien and scary again.
Other than that, it had good new characters and a very nice building of suspense, since it kept me guessing to what exactly was going on, making it both logical and vague enough to make the guessing fun.
It also elaborated more on magic in a sensible way, I especially liked that it managed to give Whyborne a difficult opponent while still staying true to characterizing him as especially powerful, that was something I really liked since it is easy to mess that up.
I hope we will hear a lot more from Whyborne and Griffin in the future as well!
The narrator also kept up his good work, I do really hope I may hear him in other books too, I like his style and voice for gay fiction and supernatural stories both.