Mysterious happenings are nothing new to reclusive scholar Percival Endicott Whyborne, but finding one of his colleagues screaming for help in the street is rather unusual. Allan Tambling claims he can’t remember any of the last hour—but someone murdered his uncle, and Allan is covered in blood.
Whyborne’s lover, dashing ex-Pinkerton detective Griffin Flaherty, agrees to prove Allan’s innocence. But when Allan is deemed insane and locked away in the Stormhaven Lunatic Asylum, Griffin finds himself reliving the horrifying memories of his own ordeal inside a madhouse.
Along with their friend Christine, the two men become drawn deeper and deeper into a dark web of conspiracy, magic, and murder. Their only clue: a missing artifact depicting an unknown god. Who stole the artifact, and why can’t Allan remember what happened? And what is the truth behind the terrible experiments conducted on Stormhaven’s forbidden fourth floor?
It will take all of Whyborne’s sorcery and Griffin’s derring-do to stop the murderers and save Allan. But first, they must survive an even greater challenge: a visit from Griffin’s family.
All the wonderful things from the first two Whyborne & Griffin books are present in this third one, plus more. Action, adventure, romance! Spooky monsters! Stormhaven has a heavy Lovecraft influence, this time in a “dweller of the deep” kind of thing. Gods being summoned from the depths of the sea, (more) secret magic cults, insanity and possession all have a big part in the story; it’s super spooky and made me think of dark stormy nights the whole time. Wonderful atmospheric writing, as always!
Not only is it another terrific blend of mystery, horror and romance, it doesn’t rest on its laurels re:its characters.
My favorite thing about series books is the opportunity for character development. Sometimes series books try to keep everything stagnant except (maybe) the overarching plot; the characters never change, the story is basically the same in each book, etc. I’m such a character-driven reader that stagnant series end up boring me (especially if they’re super long) so I’m extremely happy to see that the W&G books emphasize change and growth– both in its characters AND in its storylines. (More on that in the review of the fourth book.)
For example! Griffin has a traumatic past involving mental institutions, and the plot forces him to confront it. Also, his parents show up.1 Also, the doctor who put him in the asylum is in charge of the asylum where the majority of the book takes place. Many Griffin feels, yes, but it also gave him an opportunity to show off his many strengths, too. Terrible things happened to Griffin, but he’s a strong person and he has a great relationship with Whyborne, which helps him get through the tough times.
Thee are also Whyborne feels! Except, unlike Griffin, he mostly does the trauma to himself. He’s still working on accepting that Griffin loves him and wants to keep him; they mostly worked it out in the previous book, but (like most relationships) it still needs a bit of working on.
Maybe more importantly, though, is that Whyborne has to deal with his growing fascination/obsession with using magic. He constantly lies about it to Griffin, he sneaks behind everyone’s backs to practice is, and THEN he runs into (another) secret magic cult who have designs on him.
Whyborne’s magic usage is something which could feasibly damage his relationship with Griffin, especially since Whyborne has very little compunction about it. His excuse is that it’s saved Griffin (and Dr. Christine) multiple times, which is true. But something you have to lie to your lover about will always come back to bite you in the butt, and I love how that butt-biting is more and more foreshadowed.
Actually, I really like how events in previous books carry over into the next ones. The continuity is nice; it shows that they’re important things that’ll affect the world and its characters for a while, not just throw-away difficulties like it’s a Very Special Episode or something.
The more I read of the Whyborne & Griffin series, the more I like it. The first two books had some writing bumps, but Stormhaven has mostly smoothed them all out. For example, I can no longer complain about unfortunate word choices during sexytime scenes like I did with the first two books– no cringing in this one!
I can’t wait to read the next few books in the series!
Read: June 17, 2015
- admittedly something I found a little forced, as they were only staying for, like, a week, aka just long enough to mess with G & W’s relationship for the course of the book. It took FOREVER to travel somewhere back then; didn’t people usually stay somewhere for a month at least, to make the effort worthwhile? ↩