He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. – Friedrich Nietzsche
Widdershins (Whyborne & Griffin, Book #1 ) is part Historical, part Horror, part Egyptian Mythology, part Fantasy, part Alchemy, part Thriller, part Arcane Grimoire paying homage to an ancient and evil Magick. And it’s one-hundred-percent romantic too; if, that is, you find the story of two men living in a time in history when their attraction was a crime but they found a perfect love in an imperfect world anyway, romantic. It made my wee heart go pitty-pat, and I’m not even ashamed to say it out loud and proud.
This is the story of Dr. Percival Whyborne, scholar of dead languages and comparative philologist at the Nathaniel R. Ladysmith museum in Widdershins, Massachusetts, a place whose name and inscrutable history invite the strange and unusual events destined to befall its labyrinthine streets.
Dr. Whyborne is the sort of man for whom keeping a low profile at his job is as imperative as it is for him to hide his basest and most personal desires from the rest of the world. A life altering event in his youth coupled with a more than strained relationship with his father and bullying brother have fashioned Whyborne, in a most distressing way, into a socially awkward and nearly reclusive man whose confidence in himself and his value as a good and decent person of incomparable worth, is non-existent. But, as the fates don’t often care much for a mortal man’s wants, the practitioners and perpetrators of the macabre and the mystical are there in Widdershins to ensure Whyborne will find no refuge from their violation of the laws of life and death, when he is assigned the duty of translating the grimoire of a dead man, a book composed of secrets and alchemy and the sort of dark power that is a hymn to the gods of anarchy.
Griffin Flaherty is the ex-Pinkerton agent, now private detective, who has been hired to get to the bottom of the secrets contained in the book. He and Whyborne, along with Whyborne’s colleague Dr. Christine Putnam, uncover the truth in what ought to be humanly and humanely impossible, in what, for centuries, drove men of science to their laboratories to attempt to create the elixir of life and find the secret to immortality. And it drives Griffin, Whyborne, and Christine straight into the bowels of a ghoulish and ghastly hell.
This is a story of murder and monsters and mayhem, of power madness and the manipulation of the natural law of things. It is a story of death and resurrection, and a story of the resurrection of the lives of two men whose pasts might have buried them in pain and shame were it not for their inherent dignity and goodness. It is thrilling and suspenseful and unique and in amongst all the action and mystery and danger, there is a lovely story of two men falling in love against all the odds.
Widdershins is brilliant and eloquent. It’s the sort of book that makes me gush like a fangirl on steroids, and celebrate my love of reading. Jordan L. Hawk’s skillful prose and abundant imagination have come together to tell a story that couldn’t have been more perfect if it’d tried. It was an amalgamation of everything I love, from the artful wordsmithing to the world building to the richly drawn cast of players who each portrayed their parts to the utmost benefit of the telling of this story. I was consumed and invested from start to finish, and that alone has propelled the author straight onto my auto-buy list.