Title: Hexslayer (Hexworld: Book Three)
Author: Jordan L. Hawk
Length: 344 Pages
Category: Paranormal, Fantasy, Mystery/Suspense, Historical
At a Glance: Yet another excellent addition to the Hexworld series, Nick and Jamie’s enemies-to-lovers story is romantic and fraught—of course, because this is a Jordan L. Hawk book–with danger and mayhem, and is lush in an atmosphere that drew me into the time and place.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: Horse shifter Nick has one rule: never trust a witch.
Nick has devoted his life to making his saloon a safe haven for the feral familiars of New York. So when a brutal killer slaughters a feral under his protection, Nick has no choice but to try and catch the murderer. Even if that means bonding with a handsome Irish witch.
Officer Jamie MacDougal came back from the war in Cuba missing part of a leg and most of his heart. After his former lover becomes one of the killer’s victims, Jamie will do anything to solve the case.
Nick comes to Jamie with a proposal: after making a temporary bond, they will work together to stop the murders. Once the killer is caught, they walk away and never see one another again.
It sounds simple enough. But the passion that flares between the two men won’t be so easily extinguished. And if Nick can’t learn to trust his witch, he stands to lose everything—including his life.
Review: Being a pathological reader can sometimes put me at a disadvantage, that disadvantage being the challenge of finding something fresh and new that not only entertains but impresses upon my jaded reality an inventiveness or a twist that sets the book apart from the usual. Jordan L. Hawk is not only an author who strives, and succeeds, to offer readers unique stories set in some sort of fresh-hell mystery and dangerous dramatic arc, but she also continues to deliver those stories through characters who are charming, flawed, cheeky, otherworldly, every so often a bit broken, and manages to make me fall in love with them. I know there are more than a few Whyborne & Griffin fans out there who’ll vehemently disagree with me on this, but I have to say that the Hexworld series is my favorite, hands down, of this author’s overall outstanding body of work.
Nick is a character I’ve wanted to know better since the moment he was first introduced as Rook’s rather caustic older brother. Nick’s status as an unbonded horse familiar means he’s a feral who was always somewhat at risk of being force-bonded with a witch against his will, and it’s at his saloon, Caballus—what a great name. Yeah, I googled it—that his trouble begins in this novel. Nick isn’t above breaking the rules when it comes down to protecting other ferals from a new Public Safety and Security Act that makes being unbonded against the law, and he’s taken to running a sort of underground railroad that puts him in even greater danger if he’s caught. The implications of being a feral has some real-world connotations to it too, in the systemic discrimination against and indiscriminate mistreatment of unbonded familiars and their being gathered up and sent to the Menagerie. Part Alcatraz and part Azkaban, as I pictured it in my imagination, it’s a horrendous place where the unbonded go in and never come out. Or, if they do, it’s not because they’ve been paroled.
When Jamie is introduced, it doesn’t take long to realize that he’s of one mind with the law in regards to the new Pemberton Act, which makes him Nick’s foe by default. Jamie is also a witch (strike two) who works for the Metropolitan Witch Police (strike three), and he’s nephew to the head of the Dangerous Familiars Squad (he’s out). Things are bound to be antagonistic between them, but it’s familiarity that breeds a growing empathy for Jamie. And it’s a serial killer that breeds a growing terror among familiars, sending Nick straight into enemy territory to work with an MWP that’s been, by and large, ordered to focus on a bigger case. It’s only ferals dying after all… And this sends a reluctant Nick straight into Jamie’s arms as their investigation into the murders and the dark hexes carries on.
Once again, Jordan L. Hawk makes the setting and atmosphere of this novel come to life, as if it is itself a character that shifts and sets the tone and mood of each scene simply by being present in the narrative. It’s some powerful good scribing when you can ‘feel’ a scene through the author’s choice of words, and it’s one of the things that makes this author’s books so much fun to read—the ability to disconnect from reality amidst the sights and sounds and smells of another world, and then emerge on the other side of it with more characters to love. I always love the animal mannerisms that emerge from the human side of her familiars, as well. It’s such a fun method of layering their characters with distinction.
Jamie’s backstory lends a note of heartbreak to the storyline, one that made me wish we’d got to know his ex-lover a bit more intimately before he died. We also get a much clearer picture of the overall series arc in Hexslayer, which promises to be exciting, compelling and will surely breed more death and mayhem before Hawk types The End on this series.
I loved this book, it’s right up there with Hexbreaker as my favorite so far, and it was great, as always, to get glimpses of Rook and Dominic, Cicero and Tom, and Mal and Owen. Isaac and Bill Quigley also get a scene or three as the investigation into the murders continues, and I’m so excited to see how they’ll feature in their own novel. Which I’m hoping is a thing. It’s a thing, right? It must be a thing.
Watching Nick’s reluctant feelings for Jamie emerge, and Jamie’s eventual awakening, a quite rude awakening at that, which highlighted how, albeit unintentionally, he’d been contributing to the bitter inequalities and harsh truths of life as an unbonded familiar, and how the laws which are presented as protection are the false face of laws that allow the persecution of peaceable ferals, was the romantic affirmation that love prevails over even the most twisted evil.
Hexslayer is yet more conclusive proof that fiction is better than reality, and I hope it never gets old for this author to hear praises sung for her characters and the extraordinary worlds she creates. It doesn’t seem as if that’s going to end anytime soon. Leastwise, not by me.
You can buy Hexslayer here: