Undertow, by Jordan L Hawk
Series: Whyborne and Griffin, #8.5
Release Date: January 20, 2017
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Shy secretary Maggie Parkhurst knows there’s nothing special about her. She’s neither sorceress, nor fighter, nor scholar. What could she possibly have to offer Persephone, the chieftess of the inhuman ketoi—and the woman Maggie’s fallen in love with?
After Maggie’s friend Irene goes missing under mysterious circumstances, she has no choice but to turn to Persephone for help. When the trail leads to a shadowy acting troupe, they discover a plot that stretches much farther than a single vanished woman.
But when a dark truth is revealed, Maggie must choose between a man from her past…and the impossible yearnings of her heart.
Note: This novella takes place at the same time as events in Fallow (Whyborne & Griffin 8).
Friends to Lovers
I know what you’re thinking: this story is tagged for eldritch horror and fluff? That, dear readers, is the exquisite paradox that is Jordan L Hawk’s historical Lovecraftian magical adventure series Whyborne and Griffin, which after eight novels and five novellas remains as delightful as ever. Undertow is the first W&G story not to feature the titular heroes: instead it’s sweet, self-effacing Maggie’s turn, secretary to Whyborne at his museum and long time seeker of his (cluelessly absent) affections. As a minor character she has been steadily gaining more of a presence the past few books, and I was excited to learn she would be receiving an adventure of her own.
And what an adventure it is! Sorcerer adept Whyborne and daring private investigator Griffin may be away on a mission of their own, but this is Widdershins, nicknamed – affectionately, if you can believe it – the ‘murder town’, where terrors are always waiting to surface around every corner, in every wandering eye, and breath you take.
Sometimes of course, things are not always as they seem. Anyone unfamiliar with the strange ways of this New England town will get a fun introduction to the peculiarities our merry band has become accustomed to within the first few pages:
The night candle on the bedside table burst into spontaneous flame. The golden glow revealed a creature whose pale white skin was marked with dark blue swirls, like some barbarian war paint. Fins jutted from her arms and legs, and the claws tipping fingers and toes clung to the house’s wood siding. A host of slender tendrils squirmed around her face in place of hair, and her grin revealed row after row of shark’s teeth.
Oh, thank heavens. Nothing to be afraid of after all.
Only in Widdershins could one welcome a seemingly nightmarish creature into your home like a beloved friend. Which of course, she is. Persephone is a fearsome and commanding leader of shark-like mer people…and a waffle-loving, adorably earnest, awkwardly flirting dork. Maggie is hopelessly smitten and the feeling is entirely mutual; from their first shy interactions in the previous book to the quiet pining and eventual realisation of what they mean to each other here, watching their relationship blossom is a joy. They banter playfully and fight for each other in their own brave way, and are just such fun to read.
I don’t want to spoil the plot but if you’re a fan then you basically already know how this tale unfolds – one of Hawk’s storytelling skills is keeping this long running formulaic series feeling fresh, never stale and always engaging, with wit and tension and a passion for the characters and their world that shines through every time. I will say that I was especially pleased by the additional time spent with Mr Quinn, head Librarian, stalwart defender of Widdershins, and one of the most charmingly creepy characters I’ve ever read. More please!
Undertow was definitely my favourite of all the W&G novellas, and one of my favourite overall story arcs in the series. Maggie and Persephone are as cute as a tentacle-haired shark woman and her human girlfriend can be, and quite frankly I cannot wait for more of these two in the upcoming novels. There may be an eminent apocalypse on the horizon, but there’s still time for cosy cuddles by the sea.
Jordan L. Hawk grew up in North Carolina and forgot to ever leave. Childhood tales of mountain ghosts and mysterious creatures gave her a life-long love of things that go bump in the night. When she isn’t writing, she brews her own beer and tries to keep her cats from destroying the house. Her best-selling Whyborne & Griffin series (beginning with Widdershins) can be found in print, ebook, and audiobook at Amazon and other online retailers.
Find her online at http://jordanlhawk.com/
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I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.