Narrator: Julian G. Simmons
Length: 7 hours, 33 minutes
Percival Endicott Whyborne and Griffin Flaherty are happily making their lives together in the small town of Widdershins. They live together in Griffin’s house, though of course under the guise of friendship rather than as lovers. They are growing closer and more in love, but they continue to keep their true relationship a secret from everyone but their friend Christine.
One night the three encounter one of Whyborne and Christine’s colleagues from the museum, Allan Tambling, screaming in the street and covered in blood. It turns out Allan was visiting his uncle, answered the front door to someone knocking, and remembers nothing more until finding his uncle dead and himself covered in blood. Whyborne and Griffin do a little digging and it seems like something strange is definitely going on. Whoever attacked Allan’s uncle also stole an artifact that seems connected to a strange cult. The two men agree to help Allan and try to prove his innocence, as well as to figure out more about the cult and their goals.
When Allan is deemed insane and sent to the Stormhaven mental hospital, it forces Griffin to revisit many of his old demons. Stormhaven is a similar institution to the one where he was sent in Chicago, and even stepping foot in the place brings back horrible memories for Griffin. Add to that the creepy director and mysterious rumblings about what happens on the fourth floor and things are even worse. But Griffin is determined not to leave Allan to his fate, especially as it becomes clear that the cult is very dangerous.
With all that happening, it is not the best timing for a visit from Griffin’s family. His parents have come to stay, bringing along a female cousin who it appears they hope will be a potential match for Griffin. Things are particularly tricky because Whyborne and Griffin are keeping their relationship a secret, and with Griffin’s family already aware of his past dealings with men, they must be especially careful not to let out their true feelings for one another.
Now Griffin and Whyborne must balance family visits, keeping secrets, and working to save Allan, all while fighting the demons from Griffin’s past. As the cult gets stronger, things become even more dangerous. If Whyborne and Griffin can’t stop them, they may raise an evil god and end up destroying the world.
Stormhaven is another wonderful installment in Jordan L. Hawk’s fabulous Whyborne & Griffin series. I am making my way through the series and continue to find it exciting, fascinating, romantic, and just overall incredibly well done. In this story we face more cults, supernatural beings, magic, and mystery. As always Hawk manages to build a fascinating and creative storyline that leads our heroes, along with their friend Christine, into an adventure that grows more intense as the book continues. Hawk does a great job keeping things fresh, even as these guys face their third end of world scenario. The mystery is well developed and I love seeing Whyborne and Griffin use their combined powers of intelligence, bravery, and a little magic to once again save the day.
Outside of the mystery element, this story also really gives us focus on Griffin. Whereas the first book introduces both men, and Threshold illuminates Whyborne in particular, this story really feels like Griffin’s book. First, we meet his family and learn more about where he comes from. His parents are strong and solid and clearly love him. But they have also made it clear that they don’t approve of him having a relationship with a man (after he was run out of his hometown when it was discovered), and so Griffin is forced to maintain the illusion of nothing but friendship with Whyborne. Christine urges him to come clean; she lives her life on her own terms and expects Griffin to do the same. So we see Griffin in this tough situation, but he also is sure that if he tells his parents the truth, they will never accept him.
We also see Griffin dealing with his past in the form of Stormhaven. We learn a lot of fascinating things in the story about Griffin’s past, some horrible, and one that made me literally gasp out loud in shock. We already knew that his experience at that hospital in Chicago was awful, and he still has horrible dreams as a result. But here we really learn more about what went on and how it has shaped him. What is amazing is how strong Griffin is; we see him put himself into situations most men would run from in an attempt to help keep Allan from a similar fate. So I really enjoyed this aspect of the book and learning more about Griffin and his past.
My one tiny quibble here is that it seems to take these guys a while to put things together. Or more specifically Whyborne. He is having these incredibly odd dreams that seem so clearly connected to the cult and their case, yet it takes him forever to recognize the connection. At one point he even considers they may be linked, and then dismisses it. As a reader, I understood right from the start this was not coincidence, so it frustrated me to see the normally astute Whyborne take so long to figure it out.
I hadn’t originally planned to listen to this story as an audiobook, and actually have a copy in ebook form. However, the combination of a long, solo car ride and technical difficulties with my other audiobooks left me with a need for something to listen to so I decided to give this a try in audio. I have to say I really enjoyed the narration from Julian G. Simmons. He has a nice sort of folksy tone to his voice that seemed to fit well with the characters. He does a nice job distinguishing between Whyborne and Griffin’s voices, and does well with the women. Christine may have been a bit nasal, but her voice works for her (and seriously, I found myself cracking up throughout the book at her no nonsense approach to everything). At times it seemed odd that no one in this New England town had any sort of accent, but I think that was probably a good decision, just for ease of listening. I did find that at times volume was an issue. When one of the characters is whispering their voice often drops to almost impossible to hear levels. I also noticed that at times the tone doesn’t match the emotions being conveyed in the story. Someone would be surprised or angry or whatever, but their voice didn’t reflect that. Overall however, I enjoyed the audio for this one and think Simmons did a nice job. I think for this particular series I may prefer reading to listening, but I don’t think you can go wrong with either format.
So another wonderful installment of this great series. I love how Hawk manages to give us a new and interesting plot, while at the same time forwarding the relationship and our understanding of the characters. I continue to think it is just fabulous and am enthusiastically making my way through the series in anticipation of the release of the upcoming sixth book. Definitey another hit and I can highly recommend this series.