Fallow by Jordan L.Hawk (Whyborne and Griffin #8)
Published by: Self-published
Format: eArc mobi
Genre: Paranormal historical, m/m
Order at: Amazon
Reviewed by: Erin
What to Expect: Griffin facing down his past, Whyborne facing down an evil rooster, and Christine facing down the temperance movement.
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.
Did you know that Widdershins, Book 1 in the Whyborne and Griffin series, was the first m/m romance I read and liked? True story! I had been reading romances since I was about 12, had been active in media fandom and slash fandom, but was totally meh on m/m romances. I could get fanfiction for free, guys. Why pay for it? Then I read the blurb for Widdershins, which caught my eye, (ok, it was the virgin thing, I admit it) read that, loved it, moved on to the rest of JLH’s stuff, then I found KJ Charles and Joanna Chambers and…well, three years later, here I am writing for a blog! So thank you, Jordan, for bringing me into online Romancelandia, and thank you, Whyborne, for being such a precious little potato of a maelstrom made flesh.
Anyway, back to the review. Book 8! Can you believe it? Whyborne is struggling with the knowledge that he is entirely inhuman, just a part of the maelstrom’s consciousness made flesh. He knows that the maelstrom has collected its own and brought them all to Widdershins, particularly Whyborne’s husband, Griffin. Whyborne, being himself, feels immense guilt over this and believes that Griffin would have been better off if he never came to Widdershins.
These kinds of setups, where the whole plot would be solved if the two main characters just sat down and talked to each other, can be frustrating. However, it works here because it isn’t the primary conflict. The main emotional conflict is between Griffin and himself: his memories of his childhood, his relationship with his mother, and his feelings of abandonment. Oh, and there is also the usual battle against evil forces who want to take over the world. This evil manifests as…sentient fungus. Yeah. It’s not the blood and guts and body horror of other Hawk books, but there is no shortage of ick factor.
Whyborne, Griffin, Christine, and Iskander arrive in Griffin’s hometown, Fallow, to investigate the source of evil that has corrupted Fallow townspeople who had found (and tried to kill) Griffin in Widdershins. In returning, Griffin is forced to confront his own demons, literal and figurative, that have haunted him since he left home. As always, I love the found family dynamics between the four of them. Iskander has joined their group so seamlessly, and Christine is, as always, the star of the show.
Other than the saga of Whyborne vs. the rooster, (hilarious) this book doesn’t have the same madcap hilarity of the past few books. Griffin’s books tend to be slower and more introspective, and this book is certainly that. I feel that Griffin made huge leaps forward emotionally in this book, and I really like how his character changed. There are funny moments, but this is a fairly devastating book. Our heroes emerge stronger than ever, ready to move on to larger battles, and Griffin has healed his old wounds, but it was a difficult journey for all of them. The fight scenes at the end are very fast and well-written; if this book was a movie, I would applaud the choreographer. There’s a great sense of motion and use of random objects as weapons.
I am excited to see where their adventures take us next (Egypt, maybe???) and I’m looking forward to seeing what develops between Persephone and Miss Parkhurst. I will follow these characters wherever they go, and they will always feel like family.
What you might not like: You can’t start this series in the middle, so don’t try picking this book up first. It’s also a little slower-paced than the last book.
What you’ll love: Kick-ass fight scenes, deep emotional catharsis for Griffin, Whyborne being both a total failboat and also a raging, barely-contained being of arcance fire, Christine being Christine, and all the found family feelings.