Note: Stalker of Shadows starts the third season of the SPECTR series and, as such, this review has spoilers for the end of the previous season.
In the aftermath of the battle in Charleston, John, Gray, and Caleb are now settled in New Orleans. Caleb is working as a guide for vampire tours, much to Gray’s chagrin, but John is at a bit of loose ends. The director of SPECTR sent him to New Orleans to await orders, but he still doesn’t quite know what his next steps will be. Gray and Caleb have been having fun tracking down NHEs, but with John recovering from his injuries, he has been largely sidelined. It seems like these days John’s job is primarily monitoring Gray and Caleb and keeping them out of trouble.
When John gets word from the local SPECTR office that his grandfather has been attacked by a rougarou, he is shocked to discover his estranged family is living right there in New Orleans. John hasn’t seen any of them since he was sent away as a teen for having paranormal abilities, and when the local office offers to let John in on the case, he is eager to help and cautiously optimistic about a reunion. It turns out the rougarou that attacked his grandfather is much bigger than any they have seen before, not to mention that it appears there are many rougarou attacking in the area. As John attempts to dig into the case from official channels, Caleb and Gray look to do some hunting of their own. But there is definitely more going on than the men first realize. Between the mysterious behavior of the rougarou, another potential danger lurking, and strange behavior from John’s family, the men have a fight ahead of them and many questions to answer.
Stalker of Shadows marks the start of the third season of Jordan L. Hawk’s fabulous SPECTR series. The end of the second season brought us an enormous battle with Yuri and Dru that almost destroyed Charleston. That chapter closed out John, Caleb, and Gray’s life in Charleston and left them heading off to new adventures, so I have been really eager to see how Hawk redefines the series in a new location and where they would take our beloved men from here. This book really sets up both their new lives, as well as the new season, so it definitely serves as a foundation story, rather than the super high intensity of the end of last season. But there is still an exciting case, a suspenseful ending, and a lot of groundwork laid for where things go from here.
I liked that this case brings us more in contact with John’s family, as the focus of last season delved a little more into Caleb and Gray. So this is a nice chance to explore John’s backstory more as he reunites with his family for the first time since he was a teen. John also meets a cousin he barely remembers and I think the family dynamic is going to go interesting places as the season continues. I enjoyed the way the case with the rougarou attacks ties together with John’s family and things come together in really interesting ways, particularly at the end. We do get resolution to the immediate case, but given that this is a serial style story, there are lots of open threads as this book ends that will continue in future stories. I am really intrigued by where things are left at the end of this book and there are so many things I am eager to see explored.
John, Caleb, and Gray are among my all time favorite couples (technically threesomes) and I have to tell you, as soon as I picked up this book I got a thrill at reuniting with them. I couldn’t help but laugh at Gray’s irritation at being subjected to the indignity of fake fangs on Caleb’s vampire tour. Gray is such a fascinating character and one of the hallmarks of this series is the way he is both a wild and powerful being, but also so devoted to Caleb and John. I love watching Gray battle with his own instincts for aggression and violence and the recognition that he must keep himself under control for John and Caleb and the sake of their mortal world. This episode shows us some new vulnerabilities for John, as he isn’t really sure of his place and how he fits in now that he is no longer working regularly for SPECTR, but we also see how deep the connection is between him and the men he loves. They are such a fascinating triad and I feel like i could read about them endlessly.
So this story is a great start to the new season. Hawk gives us an interesting supernatural case and sets the stage nicely for a lot of new directions the series can go in the aftermath of next season. I definitely can’t wait!