Widdershins by Jordan L. Hawk, is an M/M paranormal mystery and the first of the Whyborne & Griffen series.
Whyborne, the timid, scholarly main character, behaves awkwardly in every sense of the word as he tries to navigate his forbidden attraction to the charming detective he’s forced (at first) to work with. That attraction grows increasingly complicated as magic, alchemy, and a murderous necromancer cult get thrown into the mix.
I enjoyed my time in this world. There’s a lot to love about it — a lot to pull you in. And I completely understand why it’s a best seller in the m/m romance category. It’s well deserved.
That being said, I have a few issues with it. I’m going to preface this by stating that this is an excellent book, and I definitely recommend it despite my criticisms.
Let’s begin with Whyborne, the main character. I love that he’s so introverted and timid. He’s insecure and constantly doubting himself, which makes him quite relatable. I know many people like him, especially the bouts of depression and negative self talk that keep getting in the way of him recognizing his obvious strengths.
It gets excessive in parts. There are times where his mood and raging insecurity are already well established and nothing more needs to be said, and yet the inner monologuing goes on and on, rehashing the same things ad nauseam. Some sections were a chore to read through to the point where I could no longer take his ramblings seriously.
Despite that, he makes an excellent main character. His mannerisms are cute and awkward. He shows bravery in ways you wouldn’t expect from this timid little field mouse persona, and yet seem to come naturally to him and in retrospect make a lot of sense.
His relationship with Griffin is a nice, easy slow burn. I felt their chemistry immediately, though it’s not a flagrant, in-your-face kinda chemistry, so I completely understand why some reviewers didn’t see it at all. Honestly, though, I think any kind of blatant connection would have been out of place for this character.
Instead, Jordan L Hawk coaxes at the embers of romance in the subtext. It’s subdued. It’s in the long gazes, the tension, the unspoken words. It’s in the fear, the anxiety, and the relief as this timid man, so trained to hide and stifle every natural emotion for fear of imprisonment and death, slowly, torturously comes undone. And then, as he discovers parts of himself he’s so long denied, that’s when the fire happens.
I have no complaints about the chemistry. It is so well done. It’s so immersive. Honestly, it’s my favourite part of this book. 100%.
My main issue with this book, the one that really broke immersion for me and quelled my thirst for more, is the logic issue. Do you know what horror-movie-itis is? I bet you do. I bet you’ve watched a horror movie and thrown up your hands in frustration when the main character runs up the stairs instead of out the unlocked front door and effectively corners themselves.
The first time I noticed characters making choices that go against self-preservation was in the middle of the book, but more iffy moments followed. There were also moments where the characters started making logical leaps in their discussions and monologues that didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. Either they contradicted something, or I felt like I’d missed a bunch of plot pieces that got them from point A to point G.
It’s entirely possible this issue is mine alone, and the rest of the readers eating up this book don’t think it’s an issue at all, but it ruined my enjoyment of an awesome book enough that I feel compelled to mention it. For me it got bad enough that by the time I got to the climax, I struggled to care about what was about to happen. I was already 80% through the book, I didn’t want to just stop there.
Still, I was able to get immersed again. Because honestly, to me the characters are the most important thing in a story, and Jordan L. Hawk does an amazing job with them. I adore Whyborne and Griffin. I adore Christine. Hell, even Bradley’s kinda fun. I definitely recommend reading this book, and I’m glad I picked it up when I found it on sale for 99 cents, otherwise I may not have taken the chance.
I don’t know that I’ll be reading the rest of the series. I’m certainly open to it. Though I may just go and see if this author has done anything recently, to see how the writing style has evolved. But yes, read this book!
So in 2022, I have taken on the yearly Goodreads Reading Challenge. For me, part of the challenge was to get back into reading for fun. I’ve been beta reading and volunteer-editing for friends and other writers for so long exclusively instead of reading things I can get absorbed in and enjoy that for a … More Books I Read in 2022 (pt. 1)
Sam Clover is an author of M/M dark romance. She swears like a sailor, gobbles up horror movies and m/m books like they’re going out of style, and runs an erotica discord server.
She’s Canadian, pansexual, demi-sexual, atheist, humanist, and loves all things sea-related. Especially pirates… And sea creatures. And Storms, waves, water, seaside villages, weathered wood, sea glass, delicious seaweed, and everything else that ever existed in the ocean at any time.