The second book in the "Whyborne & Griffin" series. The titular couple untertakes a journey out of Widdershins on a case they are reluctant to pursue. The lovecraftian elements take more of a backseat this time, while the era of pioneers and exploration of US moves into the foreground. Whybornes stuffiness, worth of a true english gentleman of a victorian era, takes up a notch, to balance out the ingredients to the success formula of the first book. Personally, I liked having a more US-flavored version of the story, so to speak, I have read enough bad Sherlock Holmes/Victoriana pastiches and as they are numerous, they are also mostly unsatisfying. It comes at a price of having Whyborne need to work somewhere completely opposite of his comfort zone, and seething with jealousy as another roadblock, so for a long stretch it is the story is somewhat flabbergasting as to where is it going. On the other hand, I imagine, it is true to how flabbergasted the characters must have felt, confronted with this particular mystery. I feel like I would have needed at least another 50 pages worth of background information, like, what were these creatures? were they truly defeated or was it just a temporary setback? what about the pictogramms, didn't anyone think it might be prudent to go back and try copy them, in case something similar happened again? what happened to the surviving miners? was the altercation with Fenton all there is as a resolution to Whybornes conflict with his father? So I am actually a bit on the fence about the sequel, because I actually liked it even more than the first one, but it also feels less like a complete novel than the first one, so I will stay with the five stars. The deeper characterisation alone is a worthy read, since we get more insight into Griffins background and what pitfalls lie hidden behind his suave worldly persona, and see Whyborne grow more as a person he aspires to be, despite being plagued by his own insecurities.
(reviewed 2 years after purchase)