Hexworld, Book #1
Heat Factor: They have a very good time. A very good time.
Character Chemistry: Tom is like, “Oh, I like him,” and Cicero is all hissing and spitting until he actually interacts with Tom a bit and is like, “Oh, he’s a sweet ogre! But also I can’t actually bond with him!”
Plot: A death on his beat looks eerily similar to the hex that destroyed Tom’s family, so against his self-preservation instincts, he gets himself transferred to the witch police HQ, where he meets his familiar, Cicero, who is looking into a similar mysterious death.
Overall: It took me a minute to get my head sorted with new worldbuilding, but once I did I couldn’t put it down
Look, I’m on a suspense kick lately. And a non-ye-English-olden-times histrom kick. And a yes-more-magic-please kick, too. Plus one of my goals this year was to finally read Jordan L. Hawk. So, here I am, achieving things. Go me!
I started this book and had that moment of “What is going on?”
It’s just worldbuilding acclimation, though, which I think was exacerbated by my listening to the audiobook. I’m good at audio as long as I don’t have to think too hard about it—if I have to think, using my eyes to process works better for me—so if you’re like me, maybe start with reading? Once you’re in the world you could switch to audio?
But it wasn’t long before I was invested. Why? Because, friends, we have a fated mates that requires a proactive consent to bonding, and only the familiar can sense the bond, and the first time Cicero sees Tom, he’s like, “Aw hell no.” Which is just irresistible catnip. (Like, romance catnip, not catnip because Cicero is a cat familiar.)
Also, Tom is a cinnamon roll who left the life of crime he was born into after his whole family died and became the unassuming caretaker for his whole neighborhood.
Of course, the two bizarre murders Tom and Cicero witnessed separately are related, and the mystery deepens. Tom’s past begins to jeopardize his future and his relationship with Cicero. There is action! There is conspiracy! It’s exciting!
Much conflict exists where people’s differences occur, so while the story is focused on this world’s systemic oppression of familiars, it’s set in Gilded Age New York, and there’s also a lot of anti-immigrant, anti-gay, and even some anti-Jewish (though that character is secondary, so it doesn’t come up quite as much) sentiment. This includes slurs that we don’t really hear much nowadays, and they definitely do their job of contributing to the reader’s negative view of the characters who use them. It’s a coarse world that keeps the reader close to the smoggy New York air and masses of hard up citizens.
If you’re looking for a scrappy-team-of-underdogs-beats-powerful-conspirators story (or series, really), this is a fun place to start.
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