This was another fun adventure spent with Whyborne and Griffin. I can't believe this is book 8 of this series and it still feels fresh and has momentum to continue. I love seeing how Whyborne and Griffin grow as individuals and together from book to book.
The plot is sufficiently creepy as in other books, as Griffin is called back to his hometown Fallow, KS to warn his mother about a threat to the town. It was hard to see Griffin hoping so much that he could reconcile with his mother, even after she threw him away for being with Whyborne and "living a sin." She's pretty awful and while she clearly loves Griffin, it's not the unconditional kind of love a mother should have for her child.
She doesn't get much better as the story progresses either. She may have regrets, but that doesn't erase her actions or the damage she caused.
Not everyone in Fallow is quick to judge Griffin, as he runs into an old friend shortly after arriving to find the town suffering from drought and half-dead. As Whyborne and friends race to find out what is the cause of the troubles in Fallow, they uncover a more sinister plot that threatens not just Widdershins but the world. I actually wish there had been a little more time devoted to this plot, as it felt more like it was tacked on to Griffin's plot, but as it will carry over to the next book I wasn't too bothered by this.
We finally have a villain who did not go gentle into that good night, so it'll be interesting to see where that leads in the future.
There was another subplot involving Whyborne's connection to Widdershins and the vortex. I couldn't really get into this one. Maybe because I was fuzzy on how the previous book ended, or maybe because I thought Whyborne was being a melodramatic dolt in regards to Griffin and how he would react. Honestly, I thought Griffin already knew all about the things Whyborne was worrying himself over,
about Widdershins collecting its own and about Whyborne being tied to the vortex, nay actually being a part of the vortex
so getting near the end and realizing that no, Griffin hadn't quite connected all the dots after all was yet another strike against this plot. Griffin's too smart not to have figured all this out, but once it is spelled out for him, he wastes no time in assuring Whyborne that he's okay with it - as should've been clear to Whyborne this whole time.
Once again, we also get to switch POVs between Whyborne and Griffin, and I love that this has become a standard in the last couple of books. It's vital now to understand what Griffin is thinking and feeling, and how he processes information. It also allows Hawk to have the characters split up and action taking place on two different fronts that can be followed simultaneously, rather than summarized later.
As for that cover... I really disliked it when I first saw it. Now... it's okay, but I still think the sepia tone of the previous covers set the mood of these books far better. And it's really grating that neither of these guys look like Whyborne or Griffin, and I can't even tell who is supposed to be who. If Griffin had the lighter hair color he's supposed to have and if Whyborne's hair stuck out all over like it's supposed to be, that would help a great deal in identifying them. Right now, they're just a couple of strangers on a pretty cover. (Ok, I just saw the guy in front is holding fire in his hands, so I guess he's Whyborne - he was the one I was assuming was Griffin. Whoops. Yeah, not loving the new look for our men here.) =/