Hello, everyone! Today I’m reviewing The Hexologists by Josiah Bancroft. I’ve been so excited to read my first Bancroft novel! I’ve also seen several glowing reviews of this book from other bloggers. So, I was anticipating something great. Read on to see if it lived up to my lofty expectations…
The first book in a wildly inventive and mesmerizing new fantasy series from acclaimed author Josiah Bancroft where magical mysteries abound and only one team can solve The Hexologists.
The Hexologists, Iz and Warren Wilby, are quite accustomed to helping desperate clients with the bugbears of city life. Aided by hexes and a bag of charmed relics, the Wilbies have recovered children abducted by chimney-wraiths, removed infestations of barb-nosed incubi, and ventured into the Gray Plains of the Unmade to soothe a troubled ghost. Well-acquainted with the weird, they never shy away from a challenging case.
But when they are approached by the royal secretary and told the king pleads to be baked into a cake—going so far as to wedge himself inside a lit oven—the Wilbies soon find themselves embroiled in a mystery that could very well see the nation turned on its head. Their effort to expose a royal secret buried under forty years of lies brings them nose to nose with a violent anti-royalist gang, avaricious ghouls, alchemists who draw their power from a hell-like dimension, and a bookish dragon who only occasionally eats people.
Armed with a love toughened by adversity and a stick of chalk that can conjure light from the darkness, hope from the hopeless, Iz and Warren Wilby are ready for a case that will test every spell, skill, and odd magical artifact in their considerable bag of tricks.
***Thank you to Angela Man & Orbit Books for providing a copy of The Hexologists. My review contains my honest thoughts about my reading experience.***
I absolutely adored The Hexologists. This was such a fun read with great characters, a twisty mystery, and plenty of fascinating magic to keep things interesting. I liked the prose because it matched the vibes of the characters, especially Iz, perfectly. I’m not sure its straightforward yet educated style will be for everyone, especially since it generously utilized a variety of SAT words, but I enjoyed it. It felt a bit pretentious, dry, and standoffish, while still being relatable. It was a good combination that helped set the tone of the story.
I was hooked on the mystery from the very first sentence in The Hexologists. “”The king wished to be cooked alive,” the royal secretary said…” How could I not be hooked after an opening like that? lol. I just had to know why the king wanted to be baked into a cake. The mystery only deepened from there and became so much more complex, including a secret pregnancy, a murder, and an eccentric energy tycoon with delusions of grandeur. Every time I thought I had things figured out, there was a new twist. Bancroft did a great job crafting a tale that strings you along without ever becoming too obvious or too annoying, which is a delicate balance to achieve.
The world-building in The Hexologists also kept me entertained. There was so much cool stuff happening, and I loved the magic system. It was relatively simple but allowed the characters to do so many fun and awesome things. I never knew what tricks they’d utilize next, and I was always on the edge of my seat to find out. The shadow surfing and the trowel that dug an entrance into the afterlife were two of my favorites. The bag containing the portal to their warehouse of magical artifacts was amazing, and it reminded me of Warehouse 13, albeit much more portable. I’m really hoping the characters will eventually start hunting magical items in addition to using them.
The characters and the central relationship were my favorite things about The Hexologists. Iz and Warren complemented each other so well, and I loved how much they loved and supported each other. Iz was an absolute girl boss who was great at hexegy, kind of reckless, and obsessed with solving mysteries. She also had some unresolved daddy issues. Warren was her opposite in a lot of ways, empathetic, good with people, and delightfully domestic. The two of them together made the perfect team, and I appreciated seeing a happy married couple use the strength of their relationship to accomplish great things.
The Hexologists wasn’t a super diverse story, but I did appreciate its commentary on class inequalities. I’m curious to see how that element evolves in future installments, especially now that the main characters know some pretty important royal secrets. The country seemed ripe for a revolution of sorts, and I’m hoping Iz and Warren will end up in the thick of it.
Overall, I had such a great time reading The Hexologists. The characters, magical shenanigans, and mystery kept me turning the pages late into the night. I just didn’t want to put it down. I’ll definitely be picking up future installments of this series and cannot wait to see what Iz, Warren, and their dragon in a bag get up to next. That’s right! There’s a dragon in a bag who has a refined palate and really doesn’t enjoy eating human arms. He will when it’s necessary, though. All things considered, I rate this book 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Have you read The Hexologists? Let me know your thoughts down in the comments!