Author: K.J. Charles & Jordan L. Hawk
Published: March 11th, 2014
Find it at: [Smashwords]
I wouldn’t usually post a review for a short story, but this is a bit of a special case. Remnant is a collaboration between Jordan L. Hawk (author of the Whyborne & Griffin series) and K.J. Charles (author of the Simon Feximal series). They both write paranormal mysteries set in the 1890s with gay protagonists, which… seems like a very specific thing but oddly enough isn’t so specific after all. So those two authors came up with the idea of a crossover in which Percival Endicott Whyborne and Griffin Flaherty and Simon Feximal and Robert Caldwell investigate a string of mysterious deaths in London. That sounds like a mouthful, and it would have been very easy to turn it into a mess of clashing styles, but oddly enough it works. Remnant is a fun read and a nice bonus story, and the best part is that it is completely free. And it’s not just a single-scene, let’s-write-500-words-as-a-publicity-stunt-and-remind-everyone-to-buy-out-full-books kind of free story. It’s a full 50 pages, carefully edited and better written than many short stories you find in an anthology.
I have a confession to make: I only read this story because of Whyborne and Griffin. When Remnant was announced I hadn’t read anything of K.J. Charles. I picked up the two Simon Feximal stories that have been published so far but I found the protagonists unremarkable and the story kind of ridiculous. In Remnant, however, the story works. I liked the idea of having Whyborne use his talent for ancient languages to read the magical words on Simon’s skin. I liked that Robert and Griffin hit it off immediately while Simon and Whyborne didn’t. Overall it’s a fun read that could have easily stretched into a longer book. It was short without being rushed, and the perfect way to tide me over until the next Whyborne & Griffin novel.
The negative points of this story are, I’m afraid, due in part to my own personal preference. I love Whyborne and Griffin, and I’ve seen their relationship develop through three books. All the little references to their past adventures and to their friend Christine made me smile. I don’t have the same attachment to Robert and Simon, so most of the times I was rushing through the Robert-narrated chapters to get to the good stuff, the Whyborne chapters. There’s also the fact that Remnant is set five years after the two Caldwell & Feximal stories currently published, and it seems that K.J. Charles is planning to go back and write more about their adventures, but in the meantime Robert has acquired some new powers and Simon is his lover instead of an acquaintance and overall I was left feeling as if I would have enjoyed the story more if I knew their backstory.
If you’re a fan of the characters, Remnant is a great bonus story. If you’re not, you can probably read it as a standalone and then decide if you want to pick up either series. I wouldn’t usually recommend reading series out of order, and I do think you’d enjoy it more if you already know Whyborne and Griffin, but if you’re on the fence about these series you can read the free story on Smashwords (for free!) (it’s 100% free!) and make up your mind.