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Thursday, February 1, 2018
WIDDERSHINS, first paranormal mystery novel in a Lovecraftian Massachusetts
JORDAN L. HAWK (Whyborne & Griffin #1)
$2.99 eReader platforms, available
Rating: 3.5* of five
The Publisher Says: Some things should stay buried.
Repressed scholar Percival Endicott Whyborne has two skills: reading dead languages and hiding in his office at the Ladysmith Museum. After the tragic death of the friend he secretly loved, he’s ruthlessly suppressed any desire for another man.
So when handsome ex-Pinkerton Griffin Flaherty approaches him to translate a mysterious book, Whyborne wants to finish the job and get rid of the detective as quickly as possible. Griffin left the Pinkertons following the death of his partner, hoping to start a new life. But the powerful cult which murdered Glenn has taken root in Widdershins, and only the spells in the book can stop them. Spells the intellectual Whyborne doesn’t believe are real.
As the investigation draws the two men closer, Griffin’s rakish charm threatens to shatter Whyborne’s iron control. When the cult resurrects an evil sorcerer who commands terrifying monsters, can Whyborne overcome his fear and learn to trust? Will Griffin let go of his past and risk falling in love? Or will Griffin’s secrets cost Whyborne both his heart and his life?
My Review: I finally bought this bagatelle for myself, after literally years sitting on my wishlist, this past birthday. I figure at *mumbletymumble* years old I can finally let go of the fear that They Will Not Approve and read whatever the heck I darned well please. Including paranormal romps with scads of gay sex and significantly smaller helpings of logic.
Uh huh. Like I can publicly admit how old I am in the context of reading *blush*shame* a, um, y'know, a book like this one is.
Fine. No really. FINE.
It's *deep breath* a smexy silly romance with True Luuuv and Evil Monsters and Supernatural Creatures! It has No Redeeming Social Value! I read it because it was A Good Story!
There, are y'all happy now? Whatever tiny scrap of credibility I ever had as a book reviewer is gone.
And that, my chick-a-biddies, is how romantic fiction readers of every stripe are made to feel. It's complete crap and it's indicative of a nasty, judgmental streak in the culture of literacy. *What* are you reading, philistine, tut the superiority addicts, don't call that literature, don't sully our ever-so-pure air blathering about your, your, lesser, baser, frankly uninteresting...books (so called) that do nothing but entertain those of, frankly, limited intellectual capacity. I wonder what these reviewers, these Guardians of the Gates, would do if their precious darlings of Literature were subjected to the eighteenth century's test of worthiness in reading matter: "Novels?! Men do not read novels. The weaker sex read novels because they are not capable of processing True and Fine Thinking such as scholars read! Men who write entertainments such as novels are merely pandering to the feeble and inferior baser instincts of the ladies. Shame! Shame on you, sir, for hastening the decline of Our Noble Culture!"
This is how it always goes through the generations. So let's stop judging what each other read and be happy that some people enjoy reading more than staring at screens. Although to be fair, I did read this on Kindle, so....
Having had my rant about the foolishness of judging others, I continue to the book at hand, first of a series of paranormals set in fictional Widdershins, Massachusetts. This town was settled after its founding father escaped from Salem during the Witch Hunt. He was, unlike the other poor sods tried and judicially murdered for witchcraft, guilty as original sin of the crime. Theron Blackbyrne was a beautiful, hunky blond Sodomite as well as a witch. His reach, sadly, exceeded his grasp, as certain essentials needed for the grand spell he wanted to cast, the one that would buy him immortality, eternal youth, and all the boy booty he could dream of, were simply unavailable in the New World. So he left some explicit instructions with his acolytes on what they needed to procure and when they needed to use it to resurrect him in order that he be able to complete his spell.
Several centuries elapse. The acolytes, surprise!, weren't at all eager to resurrect the master in whose service they'd become rich...poor followers are useless, ask any politician...in order to hand over all their worldly acquisitions. Um, no thanks, I'm good. He molders in the grave, they use the bits and bobs they got from Blackbyrne to acquire more bits and bobs, time passes and the town of Widdershins grows in prosperity as a port city, the local worthies open themselves a museum with an Egyptian antiquities focus...the items needed for Blackbyrne's resurrection accumulate, almost in spite of the great and good...and then a tragedy occurs that properly starts our story.
Percival Endicott Whyborne, wimpy bookish kid turned scholarly shirt-lifting introvert, introduces himself to us as the second son of an overbearing Widdershins magnate. He is also, in his own mind at least, the murderer of his childhood crush object who also happens to be his father's best friend's son. His unnatural lust for this friend is bound up in his survivor's guilt based on his inability to rescue the boy who drowned in a lake.
It is Whyborne's fate to act as the catalyst for Blackbyrne's resurrection. It is his good fortune to have the esoteric knowledge, the robust support systems, and the steely moral center to offer resistance to the terrible forces Blackbyrne would like to harness in his quest for immortality...including Yog-Sothoth, mentioned by name! Luck is on Earth's side, since Whyborne went to Miskatonic University in Arkham and learned all sorts of useful philological tricks.
H.P. Lovecraft's Mythos has long, long, long tentacles.
Whyborne, who detests being called Percy, has the excellent fortune to meet and fall in lust, in love, then into the arms of, strong, capable, experienced Griffin Flaherty. Another lad of the time whose Sodomitical tendencies were the catalyst for his exile from his only home and then his worst nightmare coming true, Griffin likes cats (an entire star off my rating of the book for that horrible lapse in authorial judgment) and goofy, gawky men, which makes him the best possible partner for Whyborne. The worst nightmare part is the bit that's most important. Griffin, you see, has experienced the dark and terrifying reach of the Mythos into ordinary life first hand. Its indelible mark on his soul means he will go to any length to combat the entry of those from Outside into our safe little home. Whyborne is embroiled with the Blackbyrne followers by virtue of birth and constitutionally unable to tolerate their wickedness by nature. He and Griffin must combat the actual demons and face their personal ones simultaneously and together.
The remaining half-star was lost to this book by the sheer improbability of a multi-century evil cabal surviving in Puritanical Massachusetts, the improbably used facets of Lovecraft's Mythos with Egyptian mythology, and assorted anachronistic speech patterns. My standards for entertaining fiction aren't all that high, but Griffin's invented nickname for Whyborne (since he understandably dislikes Percy) flew straight into my craw and stuck there."Ival"? How is that even pronounced?!
The next entry in the series is a short work called Eidolon. I'll be reviewing it soon..