The Hawkman by Jane Rosenberg LaForge

Rate: 3.5/5

Medium: Book

Overview (No Spoilers):
The Hawkman is one of the most beautiful and eloquent books I’ve read this year. LaForge truly has a way with words as she weaves a story that is worthy of being deemed a fairytale. That being said, it took me months to finish this read, which is no fault of LaForge. Throughout this novel, I struggled to get could lost, feeling the need to take a break in between chapters. I’m unable to pinpoint a specific reason behind this procrastination, whether due to summer and its associated distractions or the material itself that held some particularly difficult sections to read. I found my feelings regarding The Hawkman being comparable to when I read All the Light We Cannot Seea few summers back. It is another elegantly crafted work of art that I found difficult to immerse myself in. Overall, LaForge’s world building and character development were slow but deliberate in its progression, with the story as a whole merging past and present in a delicate dance before weaving together in heartbreaking climax.

Vocabulary Builder:

When reading it is common that I encounter words that I’m not privy to the exact definition, however it is easy to infer the meaning of the aforementioned word based on the context of the sentence and story. As such, relatively new to the Critiquing Chemist, you’ll find an additional section that includes vocabulary words that I encountered upon reading the book being reviewed and either had to look up the definition or it is a word in which I would like to add to my repertoire. This endeavor is easier when in the Kindle format, and potentially impossible with audiobooks, however I’m going to attempt to continue this section for all future book reviews. I’ll be using the definitions from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

Morass: a situation that traps, confuses, or impedes
Triteness: boring from much use
Redolent: full of a specified fragrance
Deleterious: harmful often in a subtle or unexpected way
Convalescing: to recover health and strength gradually after sickness or weakness
Elocution: a style of speaking especially in public
Flit: to pass quickly or abruptly from one place or condition to another
Pedant: one who makes a show of knowledge
Apostasy: an act of refusing to continue to follow, obey, or recognize a religious faith
Miasma: an influence or atmosphere that tends to deplete or corrupt
Amalgamation: the action or process of uniting or merging two or more things
Espy: to catch sight of
Assuaged: to lessen the intensity of (something that pains or distresses)
Assiduously: showing great care, attention, and effort
Alacrity: promptness in response
Gloaming: twilight, dusk
Mottled: a colored spot
Passel: a large number or amount
Billet: an official order directing that a member of a military force be provided with board and lodging
Impolitic: not politic
Dilettante: an admirer or lover of the arts
Wrest to gain with difficulty by or as if by force, violence, or determined labor
Besmirched: sully, soil
Rapacious: excessively grasping or covetous
Abbess: woman who is the superior of a convent of nuns
Tamped: to drive in or down by a succession of light or medium blows
Fust: a strong musty smell
Connoting: to convey in addition to exact explicit meaning
Boll: the usually roundish pod or capsule of some plants
Flotsam: floating wreckage of a ship or its cargo
Ensconced: shelter, conceal
Epoch: an event or a time marked by an event that begins a new period or development
Nacre: mother of pearl
Penitents: feeling or expressing humble or regretful pain or sorrow for sins or offenses
Hirsute: covered with coarse stiff hairs
Tenement: apartment, flat
Settee: a medium-sized sofa with arms and a back
Antediluvian: of or relating to the period before the flood described in the Bible
Ebullience: the quality of lively or enthusiastic expression of thoughts or feelings
Libelous: defamatory
Malingerers: to pretend or exaggerate incapacity or illness
Perfidy: the quality or state of being faithless or disloyal
Schist: a metamorphic crystalline rock that has a closely foliated structure and can be split along approximately parallel planes
Troth: loyal or pledged faithfulness


  1. Well, hello Sarah, I regularly read your blog and appreciate your reviews. I didn’t read the book you discussed, The Hawk, but reading the post, I responded to your mentioning All The Light We Cannot See, as I have read that novel and it is one of my favourites, especially because to painted the hours of the Second World War in an indirect and (to me) spell-binding story line. I searched your site, but couldn’t see a review of it. Although the author Anthony Doerr was not born and raised in Europe, he was able to paint the worlds of the two protagonists, and their meeting on the coast of France at Mont St. Michel where the climax of the story took place.
    You mentioned you had the same difficulty with that book getting into the story. May I suggest that what might be lacking in getting the feeling, is an understanding of the world and the history of WW2, both needed to delve into a story about a real war. I am not sure if you have been able to travel eventually, now that you have completed your formal education and are employed. Maybe an extended trip to Europe, to visit Britain, Germany and France, and don’t forget The Netherlands, might open up that understanding of different, real worlds? There are many many museums that highlight different aspects of WW2. Now that fascism is on the rise, maybe timely?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Johanna!
      I always enjoy your comments on my posts. Thank you for the suggestion but I can assure you that I have extensively read (both historical fiction and nonfiction) books regarding WWI and WWII, along with other tragic conflicts. I feel as though the subject of war is so important to read about with the hope that history will not repeat and we will have learned the lessons from the horrors that others have endured. I’ve only been blogging for three years and had read All the Light we Cannot See long before I was documenting my thoughts here. It is a beautiful book that is a work of art, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t struggle to immerse myself into its story, as with The Hawkman. I have to apologize if I didn’t communicate clearly the source of my sluggish reading pace, which was was in no way reflecting a lack of empathy or understanding because as I enjoyed both stories/subject matter (I cried much in both). My issue instead was centered around cadence/tempo of the prose, which I can very well acknowledge preferences vary per reader. Thank you again for the thoughtful suggestion.


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