Fallow (Whyborne & Griffin #8)

Author: Jordan L Hawk

Publisher: self

Rating: 4.5 stars

Buy Links: Amazon

Type: Novel in a Series

Received from Publisher

 

Blurb:  When Griffin’s past collides with his present, will it cost the lives of everyone he loves?

Between the threat of a world-ending invasion from the Outside and unwelcome revelations about his own nature, Percival Endicott Whyborne is under a great deal of strain. His husband, Griffin Flaherty, wants to help—but how can he, when Whyborne won’t tell him what’s wrong?

When a man from Griffin’s past murders a sorcerer, the situation grows even more dire. Once a simple farmer from Griffin’s hometown of Fallow, the assassin now bears a terrifying magical corruption, one whose nature even Whyborne can’t explain.

To keep Griffin’s estranged mother safe, they must travel to a dying town in Kansas. But as drought withers the crops of Fallow, a sinister cult sinks its roots deep into the arid soil. And if the cult’s foul harvest isn’t stopped in time, Fallow will be only the first city to fall.

Fallow is the eighth book in the Whyborne & Griffin series, where magic, mystery, and m/m romance collide with Victorian era America.

 

Review:  Wow! Here we are eight stories deep into one of my favorite series ever, and the revelations and madness continue to shock and delight.

Starting three books ago – with Hoarfrost – the author started writing in alternating POVs, adding Griffin’s stoic tone to complement Whyborne’s familiar narrative style. As a reader, I appreciated this because it was becoming increasingly obvious how deeply entwined Griffin was with all of the supernatural occurrences, and it also served as a device to keep the series fresh. Admittedly, I do miss being completely immersed in Whyborne’s head for the entire story, but with the evolution of the grand series arc, and with Fallow in particular, I consider the dual point of view to be absolutely crucial. Griffin’s past and his current status with his mother are elements that have loomed large in the background for a long time. This book addresses those issues brilliantly, while moving the entire series arc forward.

This book begins a few months after the events of Maelstrom. Whyborne is feeling staggeringly disconcerted since the great maelstrom battle, during which he discovered the exact nature of his true essence, as well as Griffin’s true role in all that had happened in the past few years. Griffin is well aware of Whyborne’s distressed distant behavior, but is at a loss to explain it. Whyborne is also increasingly frustrated with how the Fideles, the Wisborg Codex and the Restoration all fit together. It becomes apparent that Persephone and Miss Parkhurst are corresponding, which is baffling to a clueless Whyborne. After this initial glimpse into what is going on with those two, they do not reappear in this story. Darn all that, however I’m sure they are lurking for later.

Trouble comes knocking in Widdershins again as a crazed person with murderous intent arrives at The Ladysmith bearing a mysterious sphere. Griffin recognizes the man as being from Fallow, the town he used to call home in Kansas, and is equal parts astonished and dismayed. With his shadowsight he clearly sees a horrible corruption has taken hold of the man. Christine recognizes writing on the object; the same writing found in the city of the umbrae. Here we go again! Whyborne and Griffin travel to Fallow, accompanied by Christine and Iskander. Fallow is evidently living up to its name, as most of the crops and fields are withered and dying. Both Whyborne and Griffin sense the presence of a powerful arcane line running very close to the town, something Griffin was obviously unaware of when he’d lived there previously. This can’t be good. There is a huge air of nervousness among the foursome about the unknown they face, as well as how Griffin will be received by the towns-people–and his estranged mother.

Jordan Hawk is unafraid to bring some nasty, shocking elements to this series. What Griffin finds out about the conduct of some residents of Fallow, including those near and

dear to him, is nearly as heinous as actions of the supernatural entities. Humans can certainly be cruel, with or without the intervention of otherworld forces. I was gasping out loud at some revelations, and my heart ached for Griffin. Luckily, he has the love of Whyborne and his good friends.

I was actually somewhat confused by the baddies in this book, and had to re-read some pages to understand their purpose, and their connection with the evil forces already introduced in this series. That being said, they were uber creepy. The elements required to manifest them proved a worthy match for all of our heroes. I may not be walking in the fields near my home for quite some time! Jordan always has the most fantastic horror elements in her stories, and this one is a doozy.

Fallow is arguably the darkest book yet in the series–both in setting and in tone. Aside from some of the grin inducing one- liners we’ve come to expect from Christine, there isn’t much humor to be found in this story. As always, the author weaves in interesting and historically relevant facts; such as women’s suffrage and poor farms. Every book I’ve read in this series plays out in my mind like a movie, this one especially so. Settings, people, supernatural beings, action scenes – all are portrayed with stunning vividness, emotion and motion. The climactic battle scene in this book will be playing in my head for quite some time.

The ending seemed fairly abrupt to me, with less air of a job well done among the cohort compared to other books in the series. Never fear, the author always leaves things solid between our two guys, but the overall air of trepidation felt huge to me, as if there will be zero time for any of them to breathe before another heinous incarnation confronts them. This makes sense, as more and more elements are coming together; the determination of the rising evil forces is stronger than ever, as is the determination of our heroes to stop them. Bring on book nine so I can find out!


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