It’s been one of those weeks here at Chez Selina, so this post is going to be the Internet equivalent of a cheerleading squad at a football game. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I know there’s a lot of ‘Read this!’ out there, but when I recommend something, know that it’s because the book/show/film took possession of my mind for a few blissful hours and left me feeling giddy as a two-year-old on a sugar high. I generally keep a weather eye on trends in my reading, and lately there has been a particular genre that has been altogether obsessing me, so, without further ado, can I get a rah, rah, sis-boom-bah for K.J. Charles and Jordan L. Hawk?
I love historicals. I love stories about the supernatural and the occult. I love M/M romances. Know what I love most of all? Historical supernatural M/M romances with occult storylines! Whoo!
Two authors kicking ass and taking names in the genre are the aforementioned K.J. Charles and Jordan L. Hawk. Over the past two months, I have been mainlining every book of theirs I could get my hands on, and just when I thought I couldn’t get a bigger buzz off these gals, it turns out they wrote a book together, combining both pairs of characters. Closest thing to literary nirvana since the third Adrien English mystery? Signs point to yes.
Here are the deets you need to know:
K.J. Charles is a self-described “editor and writer who blogs about life on both sides of the publishing fence.” She currently has two historical supernatural series going, her Charm of Magpies series and the Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal series of shorts. Her Stephen Day from the Magpie series is one of the most unique, fascinating, and endearing characters I’ve encountered in a good long while—not that his romantic foil, Lucien Vaudrey, is by any means the lesser of the pair. Their backstories and their personalities are expertly contrasted; the dance they perform around each other, and eventually together, is as compelling as the events that endanger them at every turn. They are one of those couples that seem impossible on paper, but in life make perfect sense.
All I’ll say about period accuracy and detail is that I bow before her ability to conjure up the past.
Ms. Charles is also not afraid to raise the stakes as high as they can go. The danger in her books is not just real, not just potentially fatal, but the stuff of night terrors and childhood horrors. It’s a wonder her two protagonists haven’t gone mad from the living of these vicious otherworldly episodes. I’m not often genuinely scared reading M/M books, but I have been known to keep the lights as bright as possible and cuddle up with my doggy when reading these. I have been haunted by them, in more ways than one.
The same could be said of Jordan L. Hawk’s Whyborne and Griffin series. They are the American equivalent of Crane and Day (or Feximal and Caldwell, take your pick), living in the Hellmouth-esque seaside town of Widdershins, Massachusetts. Whyborne and Griffin are more of an obvious match as a couple, but that doesn’t make their meeting and subsequent courtship any less enthralling, especially as it involves undercover missions, a grimoire written in an arcane language, cults, sorcery, and the end of the world. Oh, and one of the strongest female protagonists in the M/M cannon in the dashing and cutthroat Christine.
I confess that Whyborne’s “child of wealth and repression who feels ostracized from his family and the world due to his bookishness, proclivities, and desire to take the road less travelled” struck a chord in me (for obvious, semi-autobiographical reasons). But I especially admire the way Ms. Hawk never lets Whyborne or Griffin (who has his own set of issues) wholly recover from their personal challenges and insecurities. They grow, little by little, inch by inch, over the course of the first four novels, but these changes and victories are hard-won, and ready to beat them back down at every turn. She also marries their supernatural investigations to their inner turmoil, so the case itself affects them on a spiritual and psychological level.
If the love story is especially involving, the supernatural elements are especially icky. There are scenes in these books that, excuse my French, grossed me the fuck out, and also inspired me to make like a Dalek and exterminate every last creepy crawly lurking in the corners of my apartment.
The apotheosis of their talents occurs in Remnant, where Simon Feximal and Robert Caldwell meet Whyborne and Griffin. Bickering and flirtation, as well as the hunt for a serial killer sorcerer, ensue.
Really, what more reason do you need to gorge on these delectable books? I promise, you’ll be thoroughly slaked and not gain a pound. That’s my kind of feast.