Widdershins by Jordan L. Hawk
(2.5 out of 5 stars)*
I really enjoyed the Magpie lord series. I figured the series Whyborne & Griffin would be similar, and picked Widdershins, the first book. I was quite wrong. Here is a list of reasons I disliked it.
1) Percival, the protagonist of the story, has abysmal self-esteem. Page after page I kept reading his “oh, poor me” inner dialogue and wanted to slap him back to his senses, or just slap him. Poor Percival who can speak 13 languages, grew up in a rich family and yet he’s as socially adept as a mute blindfolded crippled orangutan. It didn’t make sense and quickly grew tiring and started grating on my nerves.
2) The handsome stranger (in this case, a detective) who enters his life has issues too, underneath the flair, swagger and bravado. I found it predictable and honestly, boring.
3) Percival’s only friend is a strong female character who quickly becomes insufferable. She is the voice of reason, yet she is overbearing and irritating in her own special way. I don’t mean she ought to be more lady-like and fragile. She barges into Percival’s office whenever she needs to unwind by ranting or use his services as a translator, and won’t take no for an answer. I would have politely told her to get stuffed and shut the door in her face, but maybe that’s just me.
4) The other thing I didn’t like was the mixture of romance and cosmic horror elements. I enjoy romance and adore H.P. Lovecraft. A good combination can make the romance hotter and the horror colder. In this book they have a detrimental effect on each other. More often than not, the two genres get in each other’s way, toning down the horror element and making the romance feel out of place. I felt I was reading two separate books that somehow got mixed together, and it did not get better. I had the mental image of a hearse driver and a can-can dancer playing basketball in a tiny room stuffed with furniture. Whenever one of them was about to score a point, they tripped on each other or the furniture.
5) Oh, by the way. The “world is about to end” thing… ugh. Generally speaking, the end of the world is not something easy to happen, otherwise it would have happened every Saturday night. Do you have any idea how many weirdos exist out there, and I mean in real life? If a team of occultists could bring about the end of the world just because the stars are are aligned in whichever way, we would all be screwed. If the stars were indeed at an unusual and rare position, I for one would have expected more ‘warnings’, in the form of natural phenomena taking place all over Percival’s world, i.e. earthquakes, volcanoes, strange plagues, rains of animals etc. It’s not an event like an outsider winning the badminton championship, that can pass unnoticed if you’re not into badminton. On a clusterfuck scale of one to ten this is a solid eleven, so let’s just treat it with some respect, OK?
To sum up, Widdershins is not a bad book. I’ve read books that can open holes in reality by how bad they were. I sometimes think Necronomicon was in reality a YA abomination later to be turned into a fully-fledged franchise, and that’s why it drove occultists mad. Well, Widdershins definitely isn’t one of those. It’s well-written and it has its moments. I guess it just didn’t work for me.
*My star rating and what it means:
Zero stars: Why me?!? I do come across books that aren’t really books, but brain damage in disguise. For reasons you can all understand, I won’t be publishing reviews on them. I tend to become enraged and say things I later on regret.
One star: Meh… I didn’t like it and won’t be keeping it. It might be the book, or it might be me. I’ll try to clarify in my review.
Two stars: Average/ Okay. Either the kind of light/ undemanding book you read and don’t remember in a month, or suffering from flaws that prevented it from realising its potential.
Three stars: Better than average. Good moments, memorable characters and/ or plot, maybe good sense of humour… Not to die for, but not feeling like you wasted your time and money either.
Four stars: Wow, that was good! Definitely keeping it and checking to see what else I can buy from the same writer.
Five stars: Oh. My. Goodness. The kind of book you buy as a gift to all your friends, praise to random strangers on the bus, and re-read until the pages fall out and the corners are no longer corners, but round.