Series: Rath & Rune: Book One
Author: Jordan L. Hawk
Length: 279 Pages
Category: Historical Romance, Fantasy
At a Glance: Unhallowed begins what is certain to be another excellent and action-packed series from Jordan L. Hawk. I’m one rejoicing reader right now, to be back in this widdershins world he’s created.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: Monsters. Murder. Librarians.
Librarian Sebastian Rath is the only one who believes his friend Kelly O’Neil disappeared due to foul play. But without any clues or outside assistance, there’s nothing he can do to prove it.
When bookbinder Vesper Rune is hired to fill the vacancy left by O’Neil, he receives an ominous letter warning him to leave. After he saves Sebastian from a pair of threatening men, the two decide to join forces and get to the truth about what happened to O’Neil.
But Vesper is hiding secrets of his own, ones he doesn’t dare let anyone learn. Secrets that grow ever more dangerous as his desire for Sebastian deepens.
Because Kelly O’Neil was murdered. And if Sebastian and Ves don’t act quickly enough, they’ll be the next to die.
Review: When an author imagines a world in which we readers can never be quite sure what manner of the arcane we’ll encounter from one page to the next, and then he unironically composes the line, “Sebastian was grateful for the normality of the Ladysmith”, that book is bound to be an unmitigated win. It would have been such a shame if Jordan L. Hawk had decided to leave this widdershins world behind after Deosil, and I’m one rejoicing reader right now that he’s given us the Rath & Rune series to revisit it, albeit some years after the battle that meant to bring the town to ruin.
“Widdershins knows its own, in blood and spirit, breath and bone.”
There are so many things to touch on in this book, but I’ll start with the writing itself. Hawk has little in the way of competition when it comes to fantasy world building, and those of us who’ve read him for any length of time know that when we witness him tapping into the deep well of history and superstition and lore, there will always be the unexpected along with a previously unknown-to-me kernel of knowledge to absorb. In Unhallowed, it’s Halley’s Comet that sets the action in motion. But it’s a collection of books that are central to the intrigue and danger, paired with the mysterious disappearance of the Ladysmith library’s bookbinder and conservator, Kelly O’Neil, which serves as the introduction of Vesper Rune to the Ladysmith museum, its library, its librarians, and, more importantly, to Sebastian Rath. Ves is hired by Mr. Quinn on a trial basis as the library’s new binder and conservator, something for which Ves has been trained—among other things—and is passionate about, but he has secrets that only a place like the town of Widdershins could possibly assimilate.
Vesper is being manipulated by an unsavory character who is using his brother, Nocturn (I couldn’t love their names more if I tried), as a bargaining chip in a sinister plot—what other sort of plot is there, anyway, in this horrible murder town?—which leads to another of the things I love about this author’s writing. There are few authors so proficient at writing pulse-pounding and anxiety-inducing action sequences, and there are more than a few of those moments in this story. From the first gasp to the final exhale of relief, the danger and the ensuing decisions made between fight or flee are all laid out in vivid detail. And, of course, there’s always the romantic elements between his characters that manage to touch a chord and strike the perfect tone between heartache and elation.
The very human conditions of Ves longing for something that feels out of reach, not believing there’s anyone he can trust, that there’s no place for him and Noct to belong, and a growing sense of being caught between hope and hopelessness, factor into his helping Sebastian investigate Kelly’s disappearance. All of these conditions are exacerbated by Ves seeing something that could be just within his reach yet doesn’t feel accessible. His growing closer to Sebastian and developing feelings for the Ladysmith library’s chief archivist plays out in perfect harmony with the complications that are inherent to Ves becoming entangled with anyone. Especially since sharing his secrets wouldn’t affect only himself but his brother as well.
The badass librarians of the Ladysmith are once again the heroes of this story, as are Ves and Sebastian, of course, and I adore this in every possible way imaginable. They continue to do what they do so well, protect the town, which is their first duty. That doesn’t mean the end to the overarching dilemma, though. It only means that Widdershins and its residents have survived to fight another day. It also means that there’s much more intrigue and danger to come for Rath and Rune, along with their colleagues, friends, and family. Unhallowed begins what is certain to be another excellent and action-packed series from Jordan L. Hawk.
You can buy Unhallowed here:
[zilla_button url=”https://books2read.com/unhallowed-rath-and-rune” style=”black” size=”large” type=”round” target=”_blank”] Amazon & Other eTailers [/zilla_button]