When I started writing this blog, I wanted to share interests and opinions, and in doing so I started reviewing things. Unfortunately, I stumbled across a lot of things I didn’t like, and I didn’t want this to become a negative space, so I decided I would only write about things I like. Then, with work and studying, I just didn’t have time to write much in the way of blog posts at all. Now that things have calmed the f*** down I want to share my enjoyment of a few favourite things. First off is a book series I stumbled across last year…
Whyborne and Griffin by Jordan L. Hawk, is a supernatural horror series set in the late 18th century, turn of the 19th century, following the titular characters as they are drawn into Lovecraftian mysteries. My enjoyment of Whyborne and Griffin’s is largely down to these two central characters. Whyborne starts of painfully insecure thanks to an oppressive father and spiteful brother, and is hiding within his work studying ancient languages within the Widdershins museum. He is both sympathetic through his experiences, and frustrating with his pervasive negative twist on the positive. I suspect he would’ve withered away if it wasn’t for a chance encounter with the confident, dashing Griffin. Yet, Griffin, a private detective, is damaged in his own way, and despite his self-confidence and charm, he is more broken than Whyborne through experiences much darker and more haunting than Whyborne’s.
Their investigation bring them together, but it’s their vulnerabilities that draw them close to one another. Griffin sees something in Whyborne which he could never see himself, and it is only through Griffin that Whyborne begins to develop his own confidence. For Griffin, I think he finds something innocent in Whyborne in a world which has had some very dark moments for him and some painful losses, and Whyborne is perhaps the first nurturing relationship he’s had. It’s a great relationship, one that has strength in their support for one another, but also a fragility through their flaws. The mysteries they encounter are dangerous, and the revelations are often personal, which threatens what they have together.
Whyborne and Griffin are shaped tested as individuals and as a couple through the stories they inhabit–and they live within a creepy dangerous world of monsters, demons, magic users and eldritch other beings. I’m a big fan of the creeping dread of H.P. Lovecraft, but more the grenre and mythos than his actual work. I’m pretty sure that’s blasphemy of some kind considering he is the great architect of this type of fantasy horror, but while I’ve certainly enjoyed some tales, they are a little of their time, and can really suffer through pacing, and long ramblings. This is not the case with Whyborne and Griffin. Storytelling is tight, pacey, dark, gory, don’t forgotten to have fun, and usually take their sudden narrative turns and revelations. Some may be considered more adventure than horror, and some could stand out as fantasy, but they always (so far) have an element of ‘other worldliness’ Lovecraft about them.
I think the only criticism I could level is that at times the story-telling is so efficient that with the regular cast of supporting characters there have been moments where it’s easy to be suspicious of who might be behind what’s going on. Yet, that being said, this is hardly a detraction for me as the ride has usually been so enjoyable and there have been surprises aplenty–much more than my guesses and deductions. What has struck me most, is the over arcing narrative of the series. While the books can be enjoyed on their own, they do draw from one another and build on what has come before in some way. The writer either planned the connections well ahead, or is excellent at mining her previous novels for an angle for the next.
I stumbled across this series while looking for Victorian mysteries to read while writing my own series ‘The Darkwood Mysteries’ was on hold through studying. I think whoever put this list together made a list of smut. In my mind there’s nothing wrong with erotica, but for many they will have preconceptions around the quality of the story and the writing. Which would be wholly unjustified for Whyborne and Griffin. Yes, there’s sex in these books. But, then there’s sex in my life, and hopefully for you in yours. I’m doubtful that my life or yours would be considered ‘erotica’–sex is just a part of our lives. That’s pretty much how I see it in this series, although there is a disappointing lack of adventure and monsters in our lives, whereas Whyborne and Griffin has them aplenty. What I’m clumsily trying to get at is, calling this series good erotica as that list did is fine, but for me it’s just really good fiction. With Whyborne and Griffin, Story comes through first, with characters tied or at least close second, and then glorious titillating man on man sex (‘come’ third?!). Only on occasion is the sex a distraction–‘I’m going to split you in two’ as pillow talk (or something like that) made me laugh, but then that’s just my sensibilities, and sex is about ego, play and silliness, so why not? There’s just as much that will chill, thrill and keep me turning the page for the story beyond the sexy times.
I’ve read what I can in the last couple of years or so around work and study, and joined a book group too, but hardly any of the titles I have read have given me the enjoyment that this series has given me. Some of the critically acclaimed books I’ve had suggested to me have bored me to the point of giving up on them. I can safely say that I’ve never been bored with reading Whyborne and Griffin. Racing through 5 books in a relatively short space of time, I had to stop myself reading the lot. Thankfully there are more out now and I’m looking forward to reading them!
I give this 5 arcane-symbols-that-will-probably-lead-to-the-world’s-end out of 5.