Dana reviews Blind Tiger (The Pride Book 1) by Jordan L Hawk (Published March 19, 2021, 238 pages) A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.
1924, Chicago. Prohibition is in full swing and gang bosses rule the city with might—and magic.
When Sam Cunningham flees his small-town life to try his luck in the big city of Chicago, he quickly finds himself in over his head in a world of gangs, glitz, and glamour. Fortunately, he has his cousin Eldon to teach him the trade of hex-making.
Everything changes the night Sam visits The Pride speakeasy and meets grumpy cheetah-shifter Alistair Gatti. After losing his first witch to the horrors of the World War, Alistair isn’t interested in any new entanglements, romantic or magical. Especially when said entanglement comes in the form of kind, innocent Sam.
When Eldon is brutally murdered, Sam becomes drawn into the dark underworld of the Chicago gangs. Sam must find the missing hex Eldon created for one of the crime bosses—before whoever killed Eldon comes back for him.
Together, Alistair and Sam begin the search for the mysterious hex, diving deep into the seedy side of Chicago’s underworld while dodging rival gangs. And as they come to rely on one another, Alistair realizes he’s falling for the one man he can’t afford to love.
I really loved the Hexworld series by this author and was really exited to see the spin-off move ahead in time and to another location to see what it is like for witches and familiars in other circumstances. It’s the 1920’s in Chicago, so of course this story has a lot to do with gangsters and their businesses during the era of prohibition.
We meet Alistair in the beginning when he acts menacing and suspicious of a bootlegger he and his “relatives” are purchasing liquor from. Alistair was an orphan and his ability to change into a big cat scares most people away from him except a group of other orphans that also change into big cats. They became his chosen family. My first impression of him had me wondering if I would find him likable at all. As the story goes on, we learn the source of his pain and the walls he puts up. It is clear that it will take a strong person to melt the cold workaholic persona he adopted.
Strong isn’t a word Sam would use to describe himself. His family’s constant criticism has left Sam with very little self-worth. When he left his small town, he finally tired of listening to their hurtful words, but it doesn’t mean he doesn’t believe them. Thank goodness for his cousin Eldon who is a hexmaker in Chicago, except even he pushes Sam around a little. It draws Alistair’s attention and when Eldon ends up dead, Sam finds he must find the strength to forge his own life in Chicago. Alistair is definitely interested in helping Sam adjust, though he doesn’t intend to bond with him even though Sam is Alistair’s witch.
It isn’t easy, with rival gang leaders looking at Sam to provide what Eldon didn’t before his death. Loyalty and magic are big commodities in this story and Chicago suddenly seems like a more dangerous place. It’s a world where witches bond with familiars (shapeshifters) in order to ignite the magic inside them and to activate hexes. I really enjoyed this spin-off, I have to say. Sam and Eldon manage a HFN ending, and it looks like the next book will be focused on them. Perhaps it will be the whole series. I really do look forward to seeing them grow individually and as a couple, but I have to mention that I would also like to see other familiars find their witches, especially Alistair’s brother Phillip. I can’t wait for this series to continue and would definitely recommend it.
9/10 Pots of Gold (90% Recommended) – Compares to 4.5/5 Stars
Jordan L. Hawk is a trans author from North Carolina. Childhood tales of mountain ghosts and mysterious creatures gave him a life-long love of things that go bump in the night. When he isn’t writing, he brews his own beer and tries to keep the cats from destroying the house. His best-selling Whyborne & Griffin series (beginning with Widdershins) can be found in print, ebook, and audiobook.