Author: Jordan L. Hawk
Pages/Word Count: 232 Pages (paperback)
At a Glance: Yet another outstanding addition to the Whyborne & Griffin series.
Reviewed By: Jules & Lisa
Blurb: Sorcerer Percival Endicott Whyborne and his husband Griffin Flaherty have enjoyed an unprecedented stretch of peace and quiet. Unfortunately, the calm is shattered by the arrival of a package from Griffin’s brother Jack, who has uncovered a strange artifact while digging for gold in Alaska. The discovery of a previously unknown civilization could revive the career of their friend Dr. Christine Putnam—or it might kill them all, if the hints of dark sorcery surrounding the find are true.
With Christine and her fiancé Iskander, Whyborne and Griffin must journey to the farthest reaches of the arctic to stop an ancient evil from claiming the life of Griffin’s brother. But in the rough mining camp of Hoarfrost, secrets fly as thickly as the snow, and Whyborne isn’t the only sorcerer drawn by the rumors of magic. Amidst a wilderness of ice and stone, Griffin must either face his greatest fear—or lose everyone he loves.
Review: Book clubs were invented for books such as the Whyborne & Griffin series, because the love of books is meant to be shared, and who better to share that love with than someone who feels as passionately as you do about them?
Jules and I have a mad love for Percival Endicott Whyborne, Griffin Flaherty, and the mysterious goings on in Widdershins, Massachusetts, or anywhere else these two men and their faithful friends happen to be, so we decided to do something a little bit different for our buddy review of Hoarfrost, book six in the series. We each came up with a list of questions, which actually turned out to be nearly identical, so we’re doing this review interview style. And in case you can’t tell from our gushing, well, Hoarfrost is another outstanding addition to this series.
Q: If you had to pick a favorite scene, what would it be?
Jules: Omigosh – There’s kind of a kinky one that I loved. *blushes* Haha. One of the things that Whyborne is working on in this book is removing curses from objects, and on one of his first successful attempts, the rush of power and energy is so great that he gets an erection. Well, this scenario comes into play again toward the end of the book, and Griffin is present. The resulting scene is amazing, and gorgeous, and steamy as hell. *tips hat to Jordan*
Lisa: Just one? Oy. Well, without giving away any spoilers, I’d have to say one of my many favorite scenes was from Griffin’s point-of-view, when Jack tells Griffin he has to let his pain go. I can’t go into it without giving any more away, but that was such a touching moment between the brothers, and really, a redeeming one for Griffin after everything he’s gone through before and now in Hoarfrost.
Q: What was the thing you liked most about getting into Griffin’s head? And, would you like to see the dual POV continue in future books?
Jules: I have to say the emotion. Pure and simple. By giving us Griffin’s thoughts, we are allowed to really see his emotional and vulnerable side. His love for Whyborne is so much better understood when seen through Griffin’s eyes. Also, Ival isn’t the only quirky or insecure one in the relationship, and it’s nice to see that.
In this book it was particularly important to be able to take part of the journey in Griffin’s head for other reasons – and, without a doubt, I hope we get to see the dual POV continue in upcoming books.
Lisa: Agreed. Having been in Griffin’s head before, one of the things I can say I love is seeing Whyborne through his eyes. We get words and actions from Whyborne’s point-of-view, but hearing Griffin’s thoughts and understanding how deeply he loves Ival, and how much Griffin needs Whyborne as his touchstone in the world they live in, isn’t as obvious from Whyborne’s narration. While it took me awhile to warm up to the dual narrative, by the end of the book I could see how imperative it was to tell the story this way.
As far as continuing the dual point-of-view, absolutely. No question. I’m greedy. I want everything.
Q: How did you feel about the tone and pace of the novel in the beginning, then at the end of the book?
Jules: Oh, man…this one was more of a slow build. The book starts out with Griffin in a very sad place, with his friends and ‘chosen’ family helping him through it, and the pace gradually picks up as the mystery gets rolling. The tone was a bit different here as well, I think, because it wasn’t just our three – or four, counting Iskander – heroes in the spotlight. It felt like the other players took on a much bigger role. That slower pace didn’t last long, though…the last third of the book is on fire! There is so much action, and there are so many gasp-worthy moments; it’s FANTASTIC.
Lisa: Absolutely. The word I kept thinking was melancholic. That’s the best way I can describe the beginning of the book. There was a melancholy to it, but woven in there, as well, was a sense of transition. Whyborne, Griffin, Christine and Iskander are a team now, who have been transformed and have grown stronger as each adventure has forced them to face some literal and figurative demons.
The end? It was mesmerizing and freaking action packed. Reading Hoarfrost start to finish was a bit like watching the spark of fire on a lit fuse slowly make its way toward the powder keg, then Boom! awesomeness.
Q: In Hoarfrost, we finally get to meet one of Griffin’s brothers. What were your initial feelings/thoughts about Jack?
Jules: This question is a bit of a potential spoiler trap, so I’ll be careful – BUT, I will say that I went back and forth so many times regarding Jack. Even though he’s Griffin’s brother, he’s still a virtual stranger. And, that being said, I felt like things could go either way regarding his trustworthiness, and his allegiance to Griffin. I know all of the readers are going to be kept on their toes wondering about Mr. Jack Hogue!
Lisa: They were all over the place! I’m not sure I can say more than that without giving too much away, but kudos to Jordan for keeping me off balance, with not only Jack but Nathaniel Turner and the Reverend Scarrow too.
Q: When we were discussing the book, I mentioned what I was noticing as a much “harsher” Christine – I’ve always loved her snark and strong sense of self, but in this book she comes off as even more aggressive at times – and you had some great insights as to her frame of mind. Care to share those thoughts with the readers?
Lisa: Yes. Man, I love Dr. Christine Putnam. She’s had to scrap her way to a place of esteem in both her field and the patriarchal society of the time. She really is a pioneer of feminism, and has had to hone a tough exterior to compete in a male dominated field. Case in point is the difference in character between Christine and Miss Parkhurst, whose position as a secretary was probably more the norm for a working woman at that time, and then imagine what it was like for Christine to establish her position of authority on digs where she was the one giving orders to her male crew. I think where losing the Egypt dig would have been a disappointment for a male counterpart, it probably stung a bit more for Christine. To put a finer point on it, it probably pissed her right off. It’s not a major setback, but the level of frustration must have been overwhelming.
Plus, she’s in a personal space with Iskander she likely didn’t envision for herself and, well… A slightly pricklier Christine made sense to me in Hoarfrost.
Jules: I completely agree. When put in the context of her losing the firman, she would absolutely be even more determined to prove herself, vehemently opposing any who looked to stand in her way. At times it was surprising that she seemed to be lumping her friends in with those who would oppress her, but I can’t imagine what it must have been like for a woman of her determination and capabilities trying to get ahead in her field.
Q: I’m always blown away by Jordan’s imagination, and how she perfectly ties the time period and these gentlemen (and lady), to these fantastical creatures and paranormal aspects. What did you think of the world building in Hoarfrost and how the otherworldly element was dealt with here?
Lisa: Awe inspiring, really. I love historical fiction, have for decades, and one of my biggest pet peeves is a novel that doesn’t give due respect to firmly grounding the reader in the time in which the book is set. While neither Widdershins nor the things that happen in this series ever existed in history, Jordan makes you believe they very well could have, and that’s the beauty of her skill as a writer. Not only is she a masterful wordsmith who can describe a setting with the perfect balance of detail and atmosphere, but she’s also a consummate storyteller, which, to me, isn’t the same thing as being an author. Being an author is writing the words, being a storyteller is having the imagination to bring those words to life in the mind’s eye. Jordan does this so well.
I loved the Alaskan setting. What a vast and otherwordly landscape the Yukon was, until man’s lust for gold and quest for riches brought outsiders to it. The alien-ness of the setting in Hoarfrost fit so perfectly with the supernatural storyline, the Northern Lights casting their eerie glow, and it opened up a whole new element for future books in the series, especially for Griffin, which I’ll never complain about.
Jules: I had never read anything like this prior to reading Widdershins, and after six books, I’m still completely amazed by the story, Every. Single. Time. You said it perfectly, Lisa… “…Jordan makes you believe they very well could have…” To create something that is completely not-of-this-world, and have your readers buying into it without question, is such a fantastic ability. Not one time, even when I can vividly see Whyborne and Griffin traipsing around and fighting off monsters in their suitcoats and leather oxfords, not one time have I ever thought, ‘Pffft…like that could ever happen.’ Storytelling like that isn’t something that can be taught.
Reading this book was a treat for me on another level, too, though, because having been to the Alaskan wilderness, I could picture so clearly the trail, and the mountains, and the glacier, etc…Jordan did a fabulous job of capturing the beauty, and really, the wildness of Alaska.
Q: I know I was highlighting like crazy, so you probably were, too. #HighlighterOrgy 😀 What was your favorite bit, or quote, in this book?
Jules: I have to pick two. I have a serious one – that also speaks to both of our answers regarding what we loved about being in Griffin’s head – and a funny one. 😉 First the serious:
“I felt Ival. Felt his love for me, that didn’t care if I was broken. All the pieces of myself I’d laid at his feet over our years together, all the cracks that still showed where he helped me heal, didn’t matter. He loved me, beyond my ability to understand.”
And, this Whyborne classic absolutely killed me:
“Dear Lord, even the women here were manlier than me.”
Lisa: #HighlightOrgyFTW! Total highlight orgy. Yes, I love both of those! I’ll take another funny one:
Whyborne – “I considered Dr. Gerritson a personal friend as well as a colleague, but he did have an unfortunate penchant for dressing in women’s underthings at work.”
That gave me happy LOLz because you can just see Whyborne blushing at the mere thought of it!
You can buy Hoarfrost (Whyborne & Griffin: Book Six) here: