Nick spends his life taking care of feral familiars, shifters who have not bonded with a witch. Nick’s bar and the apartments he owns are a haven for ferals and he will do whatever it takes to protect them. Nick has no love lost for witches, however. He views them as users who take advantage of their familiar’s magic without any care for their partner. It makes Nick crazy that his brother, Rook, has bonded with a witch, and Nick has no intention of ever doing the same.
Jamie MacDougal works for the Metropolitan Witch Police (MWP) as an unbonded witch. He returned home from fighting under Roosevelt with a missing leg and a lot of regret about his war experience. Others view him as a hero for being a part of the Rough Riders, but no one really understands how awful war truly is. When the body of a dead feral appears slaughtered and covered with blood hexes in the park, Jamie is shocked to find it is his former lover who he thought died during the war. And even worse, it appears this is just the first of a string of feral murders.
With the MWP under scrutiny, and political pressures for them to focus on illegal hexmaking rather than the murder of some ferals, both Nick and Jamie fear the crimes will go unsolved. Nick suggests what would normally be unthinkable — he and Jamie will temporarily bond as a witch and familiar, and then he can work alongside Jamie with the MWP to solve the case. Nick doesn’t tell Jamie that he is actually Nick’s witch, the one person whose magic is most in sync with Nick’s. The guys plan to break the bond as soon as the case is over anyway. So the pair bond and begin investigating the case together.
While at first Nick can barely tolerate Jamie (or any witch for that matter), he soon comes to realize Jamie is nothing like he thought. He is kind and considerate of Nick, never taking advantage of Nick or his magic. Soon the pair are not only getting along, but falling for one another as well. But even as things are going well between the men, the case continues to challenge them. As more ferals turn up dead, the men begin to realize that the plot goes much deeper than they could have imagined. Now it is a race against time to solve the case and catch the killer before the death toll continues to rise — and Nick and Jamie end up in the killer’s sights.
Hexslayer is the third full-length book in Jordan L. Hawk’s incredible Hexworld series. I probably sound like a broken record, because every time I review one of Hawk’s books I say the same thing. The book is amazing. ALL her books are amazing. If you aren’t reading this series, you should be. If you are reading it, don’t pass go and buy this right now. Honestly, I have many favorite authors, but there are few who deliver as consistently fabulous work, time and again, as Jordan L. Hawk, and this story is no exception. What it comes down to every time for me with Hawk’s work is the excellent world building, the great romance, and the mix of paranormal and suspense that work seamlessly together.
So first off, I am crazy for the world building here. I love this magical version of New York City she has created, with a witch police force, all kinds of unusual shifters, and the clever use of magic. Hawk manages to capture all these wonderful details about real historical aspects of the time period. For example, much of this book takes place in Central Park, and Hawk just brings it to life with great details about the setting at that time. Then she combines that real life setting with the magical world she has created, and it just works so well. I particularly like how Hawk has carried over the series thread running through all the books about the big picture politics and issues facing the witches and familiars, but still wraps each story up nicely on its own.
On the romance end, I loved Nick and Jamie. Nick has been a regular in past books, as the prickly horse familiar/bar owner. We know he has dedicated to his life to protecting ferals, and it causes him a lot of conflicts, including with his brother Rook (who is featured in the first short, The 13th Hex, which I reviewed in an anthology but is now for sale as a standalone). So I have been looking forward to his story and I knew he was going to be tough when it came to falling for his witch. It takes Nick a long time to trust Jamie, to believe that he isn’t out to take advantage of Nick and that he is a kind, caring person. Nick has so many protective walls up, and I loved seeing him slowly come to realize he can really count on Jamie. Some readers may find Nick a little gruff, but I could understand his fears and his loneliness. And it was such a wonderful, emotional moment when Nick realizes that all these people he cares about so deeply feel just as strongly about him in return.
The mystery here is quite well done and furthers the larger series arc of the conflicts between the ferals and the police. This story plays well in to the ending of Hexmaker and we see the fallout from the climax of that book. There are new rules being put in place about ferals living on their own, and it is clear that the government is far more concerned about controlling ferals than protecting them. The mystery kept me guessing and the ending of the story is quite thrilling and it all comes together beautifully.
So overall, this story was just amazing and I loved every minute. There were times when I thought, wow, would this be a fabulous movie, that is how vividly Hawk had me engaged. I could just picture the battle scenes on the screen, the dramatic moments as groups of ferals work together, and the sweeping romance, all on the big screen. It is all so incredibly well done, so once again I tell you, read this book and read this series. You will not be disappointed!