Author: Jordan L. Hawk
Narrator: Tristan James
Run Time: 8 hours and 36 minutes
Category: Historical, Paranormal, Mystery/Suspense
At a Glance: The way James brings Cicero and Tom and all the colorful and varied characters in this world to life is nothing short of eargasmic.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: New York copper Tom Halloran is a man with a past. If anyone finds out he once ran with the notorious O’Connell tunnel gang, he’ll spend the rest of his life doing hard time behind bars. But Tom’s secret is threatened when a horrible murder on his beat seems to have been caused by the same ancient magic that killed his gang.
Cat shifter Cicero is determined to investigate the disappearance of one friend and the death of another, even though no one else believes the cases are connected. When the trail of his investigation crosses Tom’s, the very bohemian Cicero instinctively recognizes the uncultured Irish patrolman as his witch. Though they’re completely unsuited to one another, Cicero has no choice but to work alongside Tom…all the while fighting against the passion growing within.
Tom knows that taking Cicero as his familiar would only lead to discovery and disaster. Yet as the heat between them builds, Tom’s need for the other man threatens to overcome every rational argument against becoming involved.
But when their investigation uncovers a conspiracy that threatens all of New York, Tom must make the hardest decision of his life: to live a lie and gain his heart’s desire, or to confess the truth and sacrifice it all.
Review: Reading a novel and listening to its narration are two such varied experiences. It’s the difference between your imagination giving voice to the characters, laying out scenes and landscapes in your mind, and having those images broadcast to you in a voice that’s interpreting the characters and the dialogue and imagery within the scope of the narrator’s own perceptions. I don’t tend to gravitate to audiobooks, but let me just say, right here, right now, that Tristan James nailed this narration. No, it’s not perfect. There were times that I felt the accents were a bit slippery in their consistency, and there were some word pronunciations that I gave the side-eye to, but let me assure you, the way James brings Cicero and Tom, and all the other colorful characters in this world, to life is nothing short of eargasmic.
Reading Hexbreaker was one of the single best book experiences I’ve had so far this year. The introduction to the world is laid out in reliable Jordan L. Hawk fashion, blending historical and cultural aesthetics with supernatural overtones so you can feel and see and sense the place and time, yet know it’s a reality that never existed. It’s one of the many things I love about this author’s writing, that full immersion into a New York City, in this case, that’s brimming with diversity and rife with corruption and then has the bonus of rampant magic. A magic that some would like to see used as a means of subjugating entire factions of the population.
Where Tristan James’ narration served to elevate this story is in his vocal choices for the characters—Tom’s Irish brogue and Cicero’s cockney accent (which I’m calling it because I don’t know what else to call it) were utterly delicious and far different than I’d read them. Cicero’s purring timbre, like everything else about him, is sinuous—his body in motion, the innuendo, his innate sensuality—and James’ vocals only served to enliven it all. By the same token, every single thing about Tom is noble, even in spite of the secret he’s hiding from the world, and the subtle tinges of guilt and innocence James brings to Tom’s characterization are as perfectly heart-rending as Hawk’s words intended them to be. Hearing these two men speak with the patois the author meant for them added yet another layer to their characterization, and I loved it.
When all hell breaks loose in Hexbreaker—which it does in a big way—James brings on the energy. Reading these action packed scenes was nerve wracking enough. Listening to it all play out, from the kidnapping to the dramatic rescue to the looming disaster and impending doom of an anarchic bid to overthrow the status quo, was an adrenaline rush. And, as a final note on his narration, special thanks needs to be offered to Mr. James for not giving the female characters in the story broadly ridiculous voices. Well done!
You can buy Hexbreaker here: