Librarians Sebastian Rath and Vesper Rune have successfully contained one of the four Books of the Bound — evil books created from the flesh of necromancers. At least, if successfully contained means it is now bound to Sebastian, not encouraging when considering that the last person to be bound to the books was the library architect who went insane. Nonetheless, Sebastian and Ves are determined to track down and protect the remaining three volumes before they can be used to wreak havoc. Unfortunately, a grisly murder seems to indicate they are too late, as the death looks tied to the Book of Flesh.
As the men dig further into the mystery and more bodies pile up, it becomes clear that someone has a hold of the Book and is using it for something nefarious, though what their ultimate goal may be is still unclear. Sebastian and Ves also look further into where the book may have been hidden and who has had it all this time, and it raises some concerning issues about the necromancers who created the books and how they may connect to some people currently involved in the case. Not to mention the past that Vesper and his brother, Noct, had hoped was behind them seems to be re-emerging as well, with disturbing connections to their investigation. Ves and Sebastian must get closer to the killer if they have any hope of protecting the book, but with someone determined to use its power, their lives may be on the line.
Unseen is the second book in Jordan L. Hawk’s Rath and Rune series, a spinoff set in the world of the author’s incredible Whyborne & Griffin series. These books follow a new couple in Sebastian and Vesper and focus on the librarians as they work to contain the Books of the Bound. The story picks up soon after Unhallowed left off, shifting focus to the second missing book, and the stories really are best read in sequence. While the first book was found within the library, the others have been hidden other places and tracking them down isn’t easy. But the series of murders begin to offer a clue as how someone might be using the book, so the men set about to find the wielder, with the help of some of the fellow librarians. There is a nice sense of suspense and excitement here, particularly as the mystery hits its climax. I appreciate the way that Hawk has built upon much of the Widdershins’ lore here, but given these books a distinct investigation and storyline for these new characters. This story also dips in a little more into the founding families and the way they assume superiority over everyone else, as well as often see themselves as above the law. Hawk is doing a nice job with the world building here and the big picture develops nicely as the series grows.
This story also continues to develop the relationship between Vesper and Sebastian and I just love them together. Sebastian loves and accepts Ves for exactly who he is, even if Vesper still has his own insecurities about being not entirely human. There is such a nice juxtaposition of his emotional vulnerability when contrasted with his incredible physical strength and ability. Ves can’t fully believe he is worthy of Sebastian’s love, as well as the acceptance from Sebastian’s family and their co-workers at the library. He is also getting used to a world where he can live relatively normally, after his horrible childhood and difficult recent past. These guys are sweet and sexy together (you have to be ok with a little bit of tentacle action here) and I love the steadfast way they support one another. I also enjoyed getting to know Nocturn more here as he plays a bigger role as a side character in this story. I am enjoying his journey as well and Hawk starts to build to some interesting conflicts and issues for these men that I assume will develop further in upcoming books.
I am really enjoying this series, both on its own, as well as a chance to expand upon the Widdershins world that I adore. I think Hawk is really walking the line so well between connecting this series to the larger universe, but giving us a distinct storyline and some really engaging new characters. I am looking forward to seeing how the story develops as the series continues.