Review by Ulysses Dietz
Member of The Paranormal Guild Review Team
Of all of Jordan L. Hawk’s worlds, I think I like Hexworld the best. Maybe it’s because it’s a world very familiar to me as a student of the Gilded Age in America. That’s a pretty small niche, admittedly, but it allows me to see just how careful Hawk is in creating a world where magic is an uncomfortable truth, and in which witches need familiars, although familiars are not treated as fully human beings. Hawk brings turn-of-the-20th-century New York into high relief, interweaving the world of magic into the world of American social history. It is intense and compelling.
Magic has always been. It is written into the history of the ancient Romans; it was part of the Spanish Inquisition; it is enshrined in the laws of the United States regulating witchcraft and the relationships between witches and familiars. Magic is as essential to American life as industry and politics. And yet there are those, religious reformers, who continue to see magic as evil (think: Salem, 1692) and who carry on a reactionary fight against the sexually liberated familiars and the witches with whom they bond. The seeking of political power is as American as apple pie and magic itself is both the target and the tool to achieve it.
New York City, and in this case Central Park, is a key player in Hawk’s Hexworld. Even as the Metropolitan Witch Police are being pushed to control the black market in illegal hexes, they are drawn into a series of gruesome murders in Central Park. As a pattern emerges, Dominic (the Hexmaker) and his crow familiar Rook are forced to look for help. Jamie, a young witch who rode up San Juan Hill with Teddy Roosevelt’s Roughriders just the year before, is enlisted to work with Rook’s brother Nicholas—a massive warhorse familiar. Nick is known as a protector of the unbonded familiars in New York. He and Jamie together they can provide the assistance that the Witch Police need to do all the work they need to do. Trouble is, Nick hates witches for their unjust treatment of familiars. Even more complicating is the fact that, when he meets Jamie, he realizes to his horror, that Jamie is his witch, the witch with whom he is meant to bond.
Race, class, orientation, politics, power—all these ingredients come together to make for a page-turner of a novel that will keep your heart in your throat even as it provides you with a vivid understanding of an American past that is uncomfortably real in spite of the fantasy at its center. This is a romance, but it is much more than that. Hexslayer is a fantastic installment in what is fast becoming one of the most interesting paranormal series in my experience.