Title: Stalker of Shadows
Series: SPECTR Series Three, Book One
Author: Jordan L. Hawk
Length: 129 Pages
Category: Urban Fantasy
At a Glance: This is yet another compelling installment in one of my all-time favorite Urban Fantasy serials. Jordan L. Hawk offers readers top-notch storytelling where reality and imagination commingle and converge with multi-layered characterizations and solid dialogue that tells the story rather than merely adding to the word count.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: Some stones are better left unturned…
John Starkweather feels restless. Though still technically an agent for SPECTR, his only job now seems to be hanging out with his boyfriends, Caleb and the vampire spirit Gray, and binge-watching TV in their New Orleans apartment.
The inactivity comes to an abrupt end when a rougarou attacks John’s estranged grandfather. Even though he hasn’t seen his family since he was a teen, John can’t pass up the opportunity to reconnect.
The more John investigates the attack, the stranger everything about it seems, from his parents’ odd behavior to the rougarou’s unnatural size. And the closer John comes to finding answers, the nearer he draws to a truth that might be better left uncovered.
Review: Series Three, Episode One: Seekrits
As Jordan L. Hawk leads readers of the SPECTR series from a Charleston, South Carolina, that bears the scars of Yuri and Drugoy’s destructive murderous rampage, to the city of New Orleans that still wears its own scars from Hurricane Katrina (I mean, the contradictory carnage of the supernatural and the natural phenomena, amiright?), two things are immediately evident: strange(r) things are afoot in the Big Easy, and John Starkweather’s past is about to either elucidate or complicate his present. Or, maybe both. Probably both.
John is at a crossroads, and his discontent is unmistakable. He’s still a SPECTR agent, but he’s beginning to feel as if it’s in name only. He spends most of his days at home while Caleb and Gray are off doing the best damn job in all of New Orleans. Gray loves it* (*hint: no he does not), and John is going stir-crazy being relegated to the task of keeping the loves of his life out of trouble while still satisfying Gray’s innate need to hunt…until John gets a call that will influence everything integral to the story: his grandfather is attacked by a rougarou, and that event will not only bring John into contact with the people who’d disowned and sold him out when he was just a kid, but it will also introduce an NHE in the Louisiana bayou the likes of which no one has ever seen before. The creature is the bayou, a manifestation of it in physical form, and it’s one of the most patchworked paranormal entities introduced yet in the series, once again exposing Hawk’s gift for bringing the image of a supernatural entity to life in bold and vivid ways.
While, for the most part, this installment of the series is an exposition of, or at least the introduction to, John’s backstory and the things which have been teased out but are yet hidden behind a veil of secrets and lies, there is also the joy of watching how Gray is evolving. John’s story is already a heart-tugger, before all the details are even in, but there’s an inkling that there will be a monumental revelation or two. As for Gray, I’m not altogether sure when he developed such a deliberate sense of sarcasm; it’s probably always been there, though was more accidental than purposeful, but he is more self-aware these days and has so many pointedly comical asides and exchanges with Caleb in Stalker of Shadows. I’m here for much more of the affectionate banter between them; it’s such a subtle but brilliant example of how conjoined and bonded they are and how symbiotic their relationship is. Gray still scoffs at blatant displays of mortal nonsense, of course, yet our loveable vampire is thinking in more human, emotional ways. The development of Gray’s character, both individually and as an extension of Caleb, is some of the best parts of the series, as the drakul was introduced to the world in a form they’d never experienced before, and the fact that love and affection for both Caleb and John has influenced this evolution in Gray is really just an addition to, or byproduct of, those little nonsensical human things Gray has been absorbing. But, probably wouldn’t admit to, because nonsense. That’s not to say there aren’t some residual issues that need to be ironed out after events in Breaker of Chains, though. Gray stepping over the line of predator back in Charleston has had some lingering aftereffects that, so far, no one is talking about.
The buildup to and fulfillment of the climactic action sequence in Stalker of Shadows is chilling, during which the skeletal remains of a landscape that was once alive and vibrant before Katrina swept it all away provides a haunting backdrop for Caleb, Gray, and John to confront the improbable creature they must destroy before it can gain more strength and do more harm. There is another significant encounter during this scene which is met with just enough vagary that I’m not going to spoil it, but suffice it to say, Hawk leaves readers dangling. Not a cliffhanger but definitely a tease that’s left me thirsty for the next book to see where they’re going to go with this storyline. Especially with series history dictating how epically it could succeed or fail, either one.
This is yet another compelling installment in one of my all-time favorite Urban Fantasy serials. Jordan L. Hawk offers readers top-notch storytelling where reality and imagination commingle and converge with multi-layered characterizations and solid dialogue that tells the story rather than merely adding to the word count. And then, on top of all that, readers are gifted with three distinct individuals encompassed within two humans who all love each other in fully touching ways.
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