unknown coverRating: 4.25 stars
Buy Links: 
 Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Novel

 

Sebastian Rath and his partner, Vesper Rune, are continuing to look for the Books of the Bound. They have found two of the books already and there are two more to go. However, even as Sebastian and Vesper continue their search, their attention is pulled by the death of a young man at the bathhouse that Sebastian used to frequent. The authorities are calling the death a suicide, but Sebastian can’t help but be skeptical, having known the man. When another bathhouse patron also dies by apparent suicide, Sebastian and Vesper begin to think that there’s something more going on.

As the men begin to investigate the deaths, it becomes clear that it’s more than just suicide by poison. In fact, the deaths appear to actually be murders connected to the power of the Book of Bone. But finding the book and figuring out who is using its power is not easy. Sebastian is also finding himself caught between his desire to do everything he can to prevent the murders, and Vesper’s concerns that Sebastian may be using his newfound abilities in a dangerous way. Not to mention that investigating the murders is becoming dangerous. But as more bodies are piling up, and the murderer gets more aggressive, the men feel like they have a little choice but to dig into who is behind it. And when the killer turns their sights to Vesper, Sebastian is willing to do whatever it takes to ensure that the man he loves survives.

Unknown is the third book in Jordan L. Hawk’s Rath and Rune series. The books focus on a continuing story involving Vesper and Sebastian‘s attempt to find all four Books of the Bound, so you really need to read this series in order. These books also take place in the same world as Hawk’s wonderful Whyborne & Griffin series, however, it’s not necessary to read that series in order to understand these books (though Widdershins fans should particularly enjoy this series). Unknown continues the quest to track down the books, this time moving on to the Book of Bone. At first, it isn’t clear that the killings in the bathhouse are connected to their quest, but as the guys dig deeper, they begin to realize that the wielder of the book is the one who is behind the murders. However, figuring out who it is, how they’re choosing the victims, and how to stop them is a whole other story. I’m really enjoying the world building here and I think that these mini mysteries in each story are working really well. Each one gives us an interesting individual case, but they all tie together really nicely with the larger world building. We also get more connection with the larger series arcs here, including more interaction with Vesper and Noct’s family. 

One thing that I really liked here is that we start to see that balance potentially tipping between the new powers that Sebastian is gaining through the books versus the danger of using them. On one hand, these new magical abilities mean that he can be more successful in investigating the murders and tracking down the books. On the other hand, Vesper can’t help be worried that this ability is going to ultimately be beyond what Sebastian can control, particularly as the first person bound to the books went insane. Vesper worries that Sebastian is not going to be able to handle having all four books connected to him. However, Sebastian feels more confident everything will be fine, and this book continues the exploration of where that line might be.

This also brings up an interesting “does the ends justify the means” question that runs through the book, as Sebastian often needs to evaluate if he’s going too far in the way that he is using his abilities. For example, is it acceptable to use the power of influence over people he would consider friends to get information that he needs if it’s really important? Here we see Sebastian at times finds himself going too far and Vesper needs to be there to pull him back. He is getting increasingly concerned as he’s watching what’s happening to Sebastian and I think it’s interesting to see how that is going to play out as the series continues. I think it also plays nicely with an issue we see with regard to the bathhouse, and Sebastian‘s discussion with Irene about the men who are going there to have sex with other men while their wives are at home. At first, Sebastian believes strongly that the men’s need to have a place where they can really be themselves is worth it, even if they are lying or cheating on their spouses. However, later we see this issue from a slightly different angle and there’s more discussion of whether the fact that this is one of the few outlets for these men really justifies their lying and cheating.

We also have some nice personal moments here seeing how close Vesper and Sebastian have grown. There’s such a wonderful connection between the two of them and they continue to be sweet and very sexy together (also, prepare yourselves for some hot tentacle action here). We also delve a little bit more into Irene and Noct’s relationship, and I think this as a nice element, particularly given that Noct has always felt like more of an outsider since he can’t pass as human. It also gives us a chance to expand a little bit of the Widdershins lore in general with regard to the founding families and some of the history of the town. I love this world Hawk has built so much and I really love any time we have a chance to delve into the town and its people. I also like the callbacks that we get here to the main series, for example when Mr. Quinn grabs his bloody Bible again when the librarians need to defend themselves.

I really find myself enjoying this series and I love the way that Hawk has taken so many of the wonderful elements from the original series and built something here that is new, but still ties together with the first books. Hawk also does a nice job of giving us interesting and discrete mysteries in each book, but carrying through the larger themes well that are connecting from story to story. I am really looking forward to seeing how things all come together in the next book.

Note: Unknown is available at Amazon for pre-order now and will be released there on August 11th. Readers can buy the book from Hawk’s website beginning today.

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