The 13th Hex // American Book Review

Welcome to Queer Fudanshi. Let’s Talk! In this post we’re going to be talking about Jordan L. Hawk’s The 13th Hex.

The 13th Hex is the first short story in a series titled the Hexworld series. The official premise goes:

Dominic Kopecky dreamed of becoming a member of New York’s Metropolian Witch Police – a dream dashed when he failed the test for magical aptitude. Now he spends his days drawing the hexes the MWP relies on fro their investigations.

But whe a murder by patent hex brings crow familiar Rook to his desk, Dominic can’t resist the chance to experience magic. And as the heat grows between Dominic and Rook, so does the danger. Because the case has been declared closed – and someone is willing to kill to keep it that way.

My Thoughts Before Reading

Quite honestly, Ms. Hawk has inspired me. I had a panel with her at BishounenCon, which is how we met. She seemed very knowledgeable and experienced in the literary world. She’s found her own place in it, made a name for herself, and gained a follwoing. Quite honestly, I aspire to be like her.

As for her writing, I’ve never read any of it, so I look forward to seeing what she creates. Just so you guys know, this book is a short story, so it’s only 48 pages. I expect this to me a quick, but enjoyable read. Hopefully, I’m right.

I’m interested in the topic and theme of magic and familiars. I’m assuming that this is a mystery-romance in which the familiar is actually a shapeshifter (or just shifter as this genre calls them). We’ll see if I’m right with that as well.

This is The 13th Hex.

*Warning: This post is tagged as NSFW because the book contains a detailed sex scene.

Where to Buy:

Amazon

Amazon UK

Smashwords

Kobo

iBooks

Nook

The Talk (Spoilers Ahead):

Dominic and Rook

Making the main character non-magical with dreams of magic makes him relatable. How many of us, like Dominic, have wished to be witches and wizards? Also, making him this downtrodden but hardworking individual makes him a likable character as well. Plus, it adds a lowly everyday man turned hero aspect to the story.

That said, it was Rook who got most of my attention. While reading I went, “Brown skin? Black locks? Wide lips? Lawd, he a black man!” I was then instantly more invested in the story. It wasn’t until later that I thought, “Wait, did she mean that he’s black or did I place that into my reading?”

That’s one of the things about reading a text, you can imagine whatever you want as long as it fits with the context of the story, and you can bring your own cultural experiences to the text. So, when I first read the words brown skin, locks, and wide lips, I thought of a black man. It wasn’t until a few pages in that I looked at the cover and thought, “Wait.”

Of course, rich brown skin doesn’t necessarily mean the skin of someone with African descent. Just google the term and you’ll get pictures of women of varying skin tones and ethnicity. Silky black locks doesn’t necessarily mean that his hair is in a locked/twisted form, and wide lips aren’t restricted to only black men.

I don’t know if this was intentional, but this one sentence can actually describe several different looking men. That’s not a bad thing. In fact, it’s great because it led to this discussion.

From then on I consciously decided to read Rook as a black man, but I was also aware that Jordan L. Hawk might not have intended for that to be the case.

Plot

As for the actual mystery of the story, I found it interesting. I will say that I did get confused at times with the story (specifically at the start), but that’s mostly because it is so magic based that some of the fantasy world aspects went over my head.

If you need help imagining the setting and world, think of the recent Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them film. Both stories happen around the 1920s in New York City with an addition magical world added to it.

Early confusion aside, the excitement and mystery of the story was very entertaining. The suspect chase in the alleyways, the crooked cops, the murdered witness. All of it makes a classic and interesting mystery.

 

On that note, one thing that I like about this story is that it’s very active. There’s a lot of motion and movement. With the help of magic Rook lets Dominic, and the reader, experience the sensations of flying. Plus, the two go on police chases, and they have sex. All of this action makes The 13th Hex a more interesting story, and thanks to Jordan L. Hawk’s writing it’s a very vivid one as well.

The Sexy Bits

Speaking of sex and vivid text, I could tell things were going to get steamy in the story by page 10 when there was a small paragraph about Rook licking his lips. It was short but it had enough details to make it tantalizing and sensational. “A tiny flicker of red tongue against their plumpness,” that’s just good writing.

As for the sex scene, it was very passionate. The detail Jordan L. Hawk puts into The 13th Hex truly makes for an enticing read. Just like with the Rook situation, the words are descriptive enough to sketch a picture for me, but are vague enough to allow my imagination to color in that picture.

I also appreciated that Rook’s the bottom. Everything about Rook and Dominic screamed top and bottom respectively (due to my being raised on masculine and feminine gender norms). So, it was a pleasant surprise for me when Rook asked to be the bottom. Well done Ms. Hawk.

& The Loving Ones

Lastly, how do you define and describe love? That was my final thought when I was finishing up this story. Specifically, it was evident that there was a bond and blossoming love between Rook and Dominic.

My question is, where did this show? What were the textual clues towards them falling in love and how did the author express them? I guess, the lesson I took from the read was to study what words, senses, and situations can be used to present a story of people falling in love in a novel. Just some thoughts I felt like sharing.

In Conclusion

The 13th Hex was a good read. It was fast and only took me a few hours to complete (with some distractions adding to the time). In addition, it was fun and a great story with lots of detail, steamy attraction, and excitement. Honestly, I might have to pick up another book by Jordan L. Hawk sometime soon.

My rating for The 13th Hex is 5 stars out of 5. What’s Yours?

Extra Thoughts

  • If you’ve read the story, what did you all imagine the characters to look like?
    • For Dominic I imagined a scrawny, pale man, and for Cicero I imagined a lithe man with ginger hair.
  • What are some techniques you guys think help express a love story?