Title : Necropolis
Author : Jordan L. Hawk
Series: Whyborne & Griffin, Book 4
Publisher : Jordan L. Hawk
Genre : M/M, Paranormal, Romance
Published : May 6, 2014
Rating : ★★★★★
Introverted scholar Percival Endicott Whyborne has spent the last few months watching his lover, Griffin Flaherty, come to terms with the rejection of his adoptive family. So when an urgent telegram from Christine summons them to Egypt, Whyborne is reluctant to risk the fragile peace they’ve established. Until, that is, a man who seems as much animal as human tries to murder Whyborne in the museum.
Amidst the ancient ruins of the pharaohs, they must join Christine and face betrayal, murder, and a legendary sorceress risen from the dead. In the forge of the desert heat, the trio will either face their fears and stand together—or shatter the bonds between them forever.
An archaeologist, a private detective, and a comparative philologist-cum-sorcerer walk into a tomb…and what follows is plenty of hair raising, rollicking, hold on to your hat action that prevails in epic Whyborne & Griffin form.
My fellow readers know that I harbor massive, undying love for this series. I feel as though the characters of Whyborne, Griffin and Christine have become personal friends. I know many of you feel the same! I dove into Necropolis, book 4 in this series, with immeasurable anticipation and zero trepidation. A testimony to how much I trust Jordan L. Hawk to deliver her characters – and readers – safely through another exhilarating grand adventure to stand even stronger on the other side. A trust which proved most well founded. This book is wonderful evidence of her masterful talent with interlacing the delivery of a fantastical adventure, fleshing out the background of her characters, and of moving the relationships of said characters to rewarding and profound depths.
There is so much happening in this story, and there is so much that involves excellent and squee – worthy reveals, that I am going to be purposefully somewhat vague to keep from spoilering the abundant surprises and twists in the plot. Just enough to titillate.
The story opens with an idyllic scene – it’s a Whyborne House Christmas. Ok, so scratch the idyllic part! It is pretty cool though, that Griffin was actually an invited guest. I love his interaction with Whyborne’s mother, Heliabel, and getting more insight into Whyborne’s family dynamic. Unfortunately, Griffin’s presence doesn’t go down well with a soused Stanford, and things between him and Whyborne get a bit, shall we say, stirred up. Whyborne is beginning to exhibit a bolder demeanor over all, which, by the way, is pretty darn hot …. But are his actions manifesting entirely of his own volition, or are greater forces at work? Griffin is concerned…amongst other things.. 😉
Whyborne receives a telegram from Egypt – it offers no details, other than Christine is summoning him to join her there at her archaeological dig. He is annoyed (travel to Egypt? No thank you!), and totally unconvinced that she is in serious need of his assistance… until he finds an ominous note and token related to Nephren-Ka in Christine’s mail and oh, yeah, is nearly killed at the Ladysmith by a foul, ghastly creature. The note claimed that Nitocris, Queen of the Ghuls had risen. After being attacked, Whyborne takes Christine’s summons to Egypt much more seriously. Reluctant to go as it would mean leaving Griffin for months, Whyborne realizes he must. Of course Griffin says that being left behind in Widdershins is stuff and nonsense, of course he will stay at Whyborne’s side:
“I’ve cast my lot with yours, remember? Where you go, I go.”
Whyborne beamed. I beamed. Sigh. ^_^
The men board a steamer to England, where they eventually continue on to Port Said to meet up with Christine.* While shipboard, Whyborne strikes up an acquaintance with the somewhat mysterious Grafin Daphne de Wisborg. The German widow turns out to have previous ties to one of them. Ties that bind indeed…. Upon meeting Christine, and her right hand man, Iskander, at the port, Whyborne demands to know more about what has brought them halfway around the world and is told:
“Murder. Murder most foul, as the bard says.”
The plot thickens indeed! As the story unfolds, we find out unfortunate and eerie events have been taking place surrounding Christine’s current dig project. She is looking for Whyborne to help in translating some of what she has uncovered. The introduction of Nitocris and other new characters is woven in with threads from the previous three Whyborne and Griffin novels. Many factors are coming together, mixing past events with current circumstances: The legend of Nephren-Ka, Nyarlathotep, undiscovered ancient monuments, Griffin’s demons – of both the flesh and the spirit, Whyborne’s affinity with the Ocean dweller and his increasing powers of sorcery….All are expounded on. Christine divulges details about her early upbringing throughout the course of the story, and it is key to the plot. I love the way this was handled, as I the reader, was discovering so much more about Christine at the same time as Whyborne and Griffin were. It solidified the friendship between Whyborne and Christine, and led to such a beautiful acknowledgement of the depth of their feelings for each other. The new characters that are introduced, Grafin de Wisborg and Iskander, play a large part and kept me on my toes. Would they all earn the trust of one another, or prove unworthy? It was particularly amusing to watch Iskander keeping an eye on Whyborne… As I mentioned earlier, the level of intrigue, surprise and reveals in this story is amazing.
The Egyptian setting for this story is a shining approach for gleaning a new angle on the personality traits of all the characters. Christine is truly in her element, Whyborne is completely out of his, and Griffin… well, he rolls with the punches with his usual grace. Simply watching Whyborne nearly suffer apoplexy at the thought of sleeping in tents is golden. And camels. Oh the camels. One in particular wormed her way into my heart. And not just mine 😉 I loved seeing Griffin’s joy as he witnessed Whyborne’s delight at gazing on the pyramids of Giza, and the monuments and tomb at Christine’s dig site. Griffin was equal parts fascinated, enchanted and aroused by watching Whyborne work in the field, deciphering hieroglyphs. Whyborne was admittedly thrilled with it too, once he settled in to work. The author does a marvelous job of bringing the sights and sounds of Egypt, her cities, her deserts – and her secrets – to life. I love when the setting for a story becomes a character in and of itself as is done so beautifully here.
In regards to the romance between Whyborne and Griffin… Their love making scenes are incredibly intense and emotional. The dialogue between the two men, in and out of bed (or cot, or carpets as the case may be) is truly dynamic and touching. I cried over discussions the two had regarding their devotion, and their innermost feelings and desires. ♥ These scenes were pivotal in moving the story, and their relationship, forward. The reader is shown that both Whyborne and Griffin have their unique blend of strength and insecurities, but together they are strongest. Neither man waivers when the chips are down. They are both proven dauntless, selfless and gutsy as hell.
Humor!? Oh yes, loads of the sometimes acerbic humor that readers have come to revel in and expect in this series. There’s nothing like a quick wit in the face of death! Griffin’s smirking response after Christine quips: “you men have your entire egos tied to the functioning of a few inches of flesh” had me cackling hysterically. 😀 Watching Whyborne come to turns with camels, local fashion and the true thoughts of some of his companions was quite comical. So was listening to Whyborne and Christine quarreling and sniping like siblings. Great comic relief interspersed into the growing darker elements of the story made for a perfect blend. Whyborne’s continued distain of the dime novel adventure fiction that Griffin is so enamored with made me laugh raucously. Seriously, as if Whyborne’s life during the past year hasn’t been a million times more fantastical and unbelievable than any of those works of fiction could come close to!
I must acknowledge, I was starting to get a wee bit irritated with Whyborne’s continuing denial of being a sorcerer. Despite adding even more spells to his repertoire in this story, he continued insisting they were mere scholarly researches. Was he scared? Could he really be so shuttered from what was happening to and around him? I’m pleased to say I got my aieee!! moment – one that scared my dog out of a sound sleep when I started shouting “YES” at 12:30am! 😀 You’ll just have to read to find out what I’m talking about. It’s a glorious moment.
With Necropolis, the author ratchets the intensity of the inter-personal relationships, the desperation felt by all involved, and the devastation the demons could raze upon the earth to a fever pitch. All the combined forces take on graver and deeper meaning. The story builds to an intense, electrifying and nail biting climax. There is sacrifice, there is heroism, there is grief, there is loss, there is damage. Who will prevail… and at what cost? The whole book is genius. Truly. Genius.
Not possible to recommend highly enough!
*If you’ve read Remnant (the superb short story by Jordan Hawk and KJ Charles that takes place during the men’s London stop-over) the events of that book are decisively covered in Necropolis by a single Whybornesque catty comment. 😀 I found it perfect. If you have not read Remnant – please do! I am nudging you to do so before reading Necropolis. The men packed quite a bit of adventure (understatement) into their stop- over in London.
Rated 5 stars by Dianne