Wolf, Willow, Witch by Freydís Moon (The Gideon Testaments #2)

A vicious romance imbued with Norse magic, thievery, and necromancy…

When Tehlor Nilsen stumbles upon an abandoned corpse hidden in her friend’s empty house, she can’t ignore the energy lingering around the broken, albeit familiar, body. Entranced by the promise of ritualistic power, she seizes her chance to secure a vorðr. Miraculously, Hel, the goddess of death, grants Tehlor an audience.

But Lincoln Stone has no interest in becoming a magical sentry and raising him from the dead comes with violent consequences.

Lincoln’s enthusiasm for demonology is an immediate threat to Tehlor’s Norse roots, instigating a struggle for dominance that tears a rift between the witch and her guard. But when a mysterious neo-church arrives in Gideon, Tehlor catches wind of a rare relic. So, she strikes a deal with her unruly vorðr, hoping to mend their strained relationship…

Work together. Steal the Breath of Judas. Control the dead.

As the pair orbit each other—magically bound and incompatible—Tehlor and Lincoln infiltrate Haven, but when their heist becomes a hunt, Tehlor isn’t sure if she’s the predator or prey… 

PUBLISHER: Self Published
YEAR: 2023
LENGTH: 170 pages
AGE: Adult
GENRE: Fantasy, Horror, Romance

Queer Rep Summary: Bi/Pan Secondary Character(s), Genderqueer/Nonbinary Minor Character(s), Trans Minor Character(s).

*I received a free review copy in exchange for an honest review of this book. 

WOLF, WILLOW, WITCH is a strangely direct follow-up to HAUNT, HEART, HAVOC, while having different main characters, a pretty cool trick to manage. The "wolf" is Lincoln, the deceased ex-husband of Bishop from the first book. Tehlor is the Norse witch who helped them clear some of the other bothersome spirits out of the house. While Colin and Bishop are off on a cross-country exorcism trip, Tehlor seizes the opportunity to steal Lincoln's corpse and turn him into a magical sentry (not a familiar, she already has her rat for that). 

I love how WOLF, WILLOW, WITCH tells a full story which give a much better sense of Lincoln in addition to showing Tehlor through her narration, provides answers to some of the unaddressed questions from HAUNT, HEART, HAVOC, and briefly introduces the protagonist for the next book. It seems like they don't completely deal with Haven, but they manage to change the course of the group's plans in ways that are likely to play out in the final book of the trilogy.

I rarely read books with an unabashed villain as one of the love interests without some effort to soften them. Lincoln is as close to that as I'm comfortable reading, and I'm fascinated by his and Tehlor's relationship. She's not "fixing" him, he's not really corrupting her, they're two people with intermittently compatible goals and a whole lot of enlightened self interest. 

The scenes in Haven, the Catholic-ish cult, were deeply creepy. I used to be Christian and am familiar with the non-magical versions of many parts of those scenes, especially all the misogyny disguised as politeness.

This was great and I'm very excited to read how the series winds up!

Moderate CW for cursing, sexual content, sexism, misogyny, confinement, emotional abuse, physical abuse, toxic relationship, panic attacks/disorders, alcohol, blood, violence, gun violence, injury detail, body horror, murder, death.

Minor CW for vomit, drug use, pregnancy, sexual abuse, self harm.

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