Whyborne and Griffin are returning to Widdershins from Balefire Manor. Though they barely escaped with their lives, at least they have recovered the key to translating the Wisborg Codex, which will hopefully help them figure out how to stop the return of the Masters. But as their group approaches Widdershins, it becomes clear that they are too late. The Fideles cult and their followers have managed to get a foothold on the town and its people. The museum is destroyed, farms lay deserted, and the citizens are like near zombies. As awful as it all appears, the Masters have not returned quite yet, and that means no one can give up. Now Whyborne and Griffin, along with Christine, Iskander, and many others, must fight with all they have to save their town and the fate of the world.
Deosil is the final book in Jordan L. Hawk’s phenomenal Whyborne & Griffin series and it is a perfect way to wrap things up. Let me be totally clear here: If you aren’t reading this series, you need to be. It’s just that good. And now that we have reached the end, I don’t have to tell fans of this series that you are going to want to read this book.
To everyone whom Widdershins has collected on this journey:
You are seen.
You are important.
You are loved.
This is how Hawk dedicates the story and this right here encapsulates the series for me. Oft repeated throughout the books is the phrase, “Widdershins knows its own.” The town is a weird place filled with quirky people, people who wouldn’t fit in just anywhere, but who find their home in this strange little town. The town has sort of a sentience, or at least the maelstrom below it does, and is said to collect people who belong there. And this sense of finding home, of finding a place to belong and then fighting for that life you have built is a theme that carries really wonderfully throughout the books.
I’m going to be honest, I am emotional about this book and this series. I practically cried just thinking about reading this final story; I choked up when I read the dedication; I teared up as I read the ending. I even started wibbling just thinking about writing this review. It is a rare and wonderful thing to have a book and a series affect you so profoundly, and I know that I am not alone. So rather than do a traditional review, I am going to share some of my thoughts about what makes this series so spectacular and important to me.
- One of the hallmarks of any good series is the ability to not only create engaging individual books, but to carry a story arc across the series. In this case, for eleven books Hawk has managed to build an overarching saga that is both enormous and simple all at once. I loved the way little details from earlier stories come back in later books and how it all builds to culminate in this huge, climactic ending.
- I am a huge fan of “found family” stories and Hawk creates a beautiful one here. While Whyborne does have some close family members in his life, there is a still a strong found family aspect to the series. While Whyborne and Griffin are the focal point of the story, the connection between them and Christine, Iskander, Maggie Parkhurst, and other great side characters really enhance the books.
- Ok, I’ll admit, I am partial to librarians. Obviously, I love to read and I spend countless hours of my life dedicated to reading and talking about books. My father was also a librarian and I grew up with a love of libraries. I absolutely love the way the librarians here are total bad asses. One of of my favorite moments is a key battle scene in an earlier book when the librarians show up, brandishing heavy dictionaries and book binding tools, to shouts of joy that the librarians have arrived! I can’t help it, I get a little misty every time they show up, full of dedication and determination to risk their lives to fight and save their town.
- This series begins with Whyborne coming into his power and that is a major part of the books. Whyborne ends the series with impressive power and is incredibly strong, and his journey is very rewarding. But I also love that we see Griffin find his own strength and magic over the course of the series. It gives a nice balance to the books and their partnership to see that he has his own unique skills that complement Whyborne’s abilities.
- If you have read any of my review before, you probably know I am obsessed with Whyborne’s best friend, Christine. She is strong and determined and fearless. She lives a life unlike many women of her time and she is unapologetic about her independence. I absolutely adore her, and her relationship with Whyborne is one of the best parts of the books. Christine is my total book girlfriend and one of my all time favorite side characters. And one of the things I love about this series is the strong women, particularly in a series with two male leads. We have not only Christine, but Whyborne’s sister and mother, and even his meek secretary comes into her own over the course of the series. I think it is to Hawk’s great credit that these women are showcased so wonderfully and developed as such amazing characters.
- I mentioned that Whyborne starts out the series kind of timid and uncertain, and one of things that is really great about this series is seeing how far he comes and how much he grows. He starts the series as a man who hides mostly in the shadows, hoping to remain unnoticed. He is intimidated by so many things and so many people. As the story continues, Whyborne is forced to take on larger and larger roles, to assume leadership and take on enormous responsibilities and I really enjoyed seeing him come into his own. What I particularly love, however, is the juxtaposition between the powerful sorcerer he has become, the man at the forefront of taking on the destroyers of the world, and the fact that he still has those shy elements that make him so endearing. Here we see Whyborne face off against their enemies, proclaiming “I am the fire that burns in the veins of the world,” and at the same time, we see him blushing because he sees Christine’s exposed calves. I just adore him.
- For all that is wonderful about this series, what really makes it special is the connection between Whyborne and Griffin. We have seen them grow individually, but it is the love between them that really makes things shine. Watching the tender way they interact, the fierce way they protect one another, and the depth of their love for each other is just wonderful. I get a little pang every time Griffin says “my dear” to Whyborne. There is a lovely moment in the story, one of the rare quiet times where the men can catch their breath where Whyborne is talking to Griffin and my heart just swooned.
“I want to grow old with you,” I whispered, and my throat tightened with emotion. “I want to see what you’ll look like with silver hair and laugh lines around your eyes. I want to hobble down the street together when we’re eighty, or sit on the lawn and watch you tend our garden. I want to wake up in your arms for every single day of the next fifty years, until I take my last breath.”
So these are just some of the reasons I love this series. While I am so sorry to see it come to an end, I also am so appreciative to be have been taken on this journey. It is not often that you can find a book or a series that affects you so much as a reader, and this is one I can truly say I will never forget. I feel lucky to have been one of those claimed just a little bit by this town and in its inhabitants. So with that, I will leave you with Hawk’s own closing words at the end of her Author’s Note.
Widdershins lives within us now, and it knows its own. So instead of saying “farewell,” let us instead say “welcome home.”
P.S. Hawk was kind enough to join me for an interview about Deosil and whole series. If you haven’t had a chance to check it out, you can find it here.