Rath and Rune: Unhallowed – Jordan L. Hawk
Monsters. Murder. Librarians.
Librarian Sebastian Rath is the only one who believes his friend Kelly O’Neil disappeared due to foul play. But without any clues or outside assistance, there’s nothing he can do to prove it.
When bookbinder Vesper Rune is hired to fill the vacancy left by O’Neil, he receives an ominous letter warning him to leave. After he saves Sebastian from a pair of threatening men, the two decide to join forces and get to the truth about what happened to O’Neil.
But Vesper is hiding secrets of his own, ones he doesn’t dare let anyone learn. Secrets that grow ever more dangerous as his desire for Sebastian deepens.
Because Kelly O’Neil was murdered. And if Sebastian and Ves don’t act quickly enough, they’ll be the next to die.
I mentioned somewhere on this blog that when I grow up, I want to be a Ladysmith Librarian, ready to defend the world against Outside forces with my trusty dictionary. I’m still waiting for my summons from Mr. Quinn, which is to me what a Hogwarts letter is to an HP fan.
Every Whyborne and Griffin fan knows what the Ladysmith Museum and its Library mean to the entire series. It was almost a character itself, holding a certain mystique that intrigued me to no end. So I was beyond overjoyed that we get an closer look at the inner workings of this fantastical library through the eyes of the very Librarians themselves!
Well, technically, its Archivist and its Book Binder.
Sebastian Rath and Vesper Rune are our heroes. Sebastian is a character I typically describe as likable. This is because I liked him, his co-workers like him but I don’t think he would really stand out as a secondary character. As the MC, he has admirable characteristics and some distinguishing quirks but I have yet to connect with him like I did with Vesper. Combining him with Ves though, they’re good together. The author did a great job making their dynamics stand out from those of the original series.
Vesper is my cinnamon roll. He’s very good at giving hugs. Raised in a cult by a fanatical mother, endured years of abuse, he and his brother, Nocturne, ran away. They lived in the ever present fear of being found out. He agreed to infiltrate the library for a sorcerer who promised to break the curse he and Noct are under.
Majority of the story was spent with him working hard to conceal his true nature. Ves’s knowledge of the real world was mostly limited to what his mother and grandfather taught him and his brother. Which is a load of occult mumbo jumbo, fearsome fighting skills and top-notched book binding techniques.
Unhallowed is set in 1910, 8 years after what should have been the end of the world, something that Ves and Noct were supposed to help bring about. Widdershins is now a different place. Still considered weird by outsiders but more accepting of the otherworldly as Ves was shocked to find out.
The world building is immersive. There is the Widdershin mythos we all know and love but seen through fresh eyes. You get a great sense of the labyrinthine library and the kind of work it takes to run the place. We also get some background on the illicit rare books trade and hear about Ves’s strong opinions on page margins.
The plot was a combination of paranormal, mystery and romance. It took place over the course of several days but it feels like the timeline is stretched because a lot of things were happening. Nonetheless, the story moved smoothly along. It tackled dark subjects, had a bit of angst but overall, the tone was light and humorous. It did a great job exploring the rich history of the original series, adding more delights to uncover. There were sinister secrets, crazy cults, dangerous books, mind-boggling designs, mad architects, evil necromancers and an unexpected love affair that answered some of my burning questions.
Rath and Rune has a great supporting cast, starting with Noct, who’s totally adorbs, the mysterious Mr. Quinn, the Head Librarian, Irene, Librarian and sorceress from the Endicott family, Bonnie, Sebastian’s sister and Mortimer, Librarian and Irene’s fiance. He was an obnoxious, annoying character who I developed an unlikely soft spot for because I’m kind of tickled with the idea of him and Irene. I hope the author gives them a nice story arc.
I love the direction this spin-off is heading! Unhallowed is a wonderful return to a beloved town with new characters to love and intriguing story arcs to keep you hooked. It’s a great start to another grand magical adventure that promises high-intensity book binding and pure-hearted weapons of mass destruction. If you love Whyborne and Griffin, curious about the Ladysmith library, and/or in the mood for some highly appealing wriggling bits, do read now!
4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits
If you like my content, please consider using my Amazon affiliate links below to get your copy of Unhallowed. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying Amazon purchases at no additional cost to you.
You can also use my Bookshop affiliate links to buy paperback copies and help support independent bookstores.