Tag Archives: Women of the Otherworld series

Review of 13 – Book 13 of the Women of the Otherworld series by Kelley Armstrong

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Another Kelley Armstrong book in this well-established and popular series – but this is the finale. So has it sufficiently cranked up the tension so that fans feel it provides a fitting end?

13A sinister cult known as the Supernatural Liberation Movement is hell-bent on exposing the truth about supernaturals to the rest of the world. Their violent, ruthless plan has put everyone at risk, from werewolves to vampires, from witches to half-demons.

Savannah Levine – fiery and unpredictable – stands at the heart of the maelstrom. There is a new, dark magic inside her, granting her the power to summon spells of terrifying strength. But whether this magic is a gift or a curse, no one knows. On the eve of battle, all the major players must come together in a last, desperate fight for survival – Elena and Clay, Adam and Savannah, Paige and Lucas, Jeremy and Jaime, Hope, Eve and more… They are fighting for their lives. They are fighting for their loved ones. They are fighting for the Otherworld.

Firstly, if you have got hold of 13 without reading any of the other books in the series, then don’t. If I were you, I’d give myself the pleasure of going right back to the first book, Bitten, and start from there. However if you simply don’t have the time or stamina to undertake reading the first twelve books, then at the very least read Waking the Witch and Spell Bound. Because unlike Armstrong’s other books in this series – these final three are not standalone stories, they are effectively a trilogy told primarily in Savannah’s first person viewpoint and run on from one to the other. And while occasionally Armstrong tosses the reader a quick resume, it doesn’t happen all that often and you will spend far too much time floundering amid a welter of characters and events you know nothing about. Which would be a real shame.

Unlike the two previous books, 13 takes off right from the start in a whirl of action which doesn’t let up until the very end. Hardly surprising when Armstrong sets out to tie up each of her main characters’ narrative arcs by the end of the book, along with giving us an epic battle. As the blurb makes clear, Savannah is the nexus for most of the action, with occasional third person contributions from the other main protagonists in the series. Does it work? Hm. Not entirely sure… At the time I was so wrapped up in the story, that I was fine with it. But then the house could have fallen down around my ears and I’m not sure I could have pulled away from the book. Because whatever else Armstrong does, she produces books with page-turner appeal as the stakes were raised ever higher and every section of the Otherworld became embroiled in this mad scheme.

Apparently, I’m not the only person who was a tad disappointed that Savannah got to be the star of this final trilogy – many others, like me, wanted to see Elena slink through the action as the Alpha of her pack. However, what I couldn’t deny was that this trilogy gave Savannah the opportunity to mature and grow from the rather bratty, entitled teen she was, to a young woman who was more thoughtful – and above all, far more appreciative of her magic. We also got a resolution to the non-romance bubbling away between Savannah and Adam, although I found this a little rushed as it seemed to unfold in the rare lulls between various bomb explosions, kidnappings, home invasions and cold-blooded plotting.

I also enjoyed Hope’s story arc and the way in which Armstrong managed to braid all the various characters into this last novel and provide them with a fitting end. Any grizzles? Well… I think there should have been just a little more death and destruction – war is a pitiless, messy business and I personally like to end a long-running series with more of a lump in my throat. But that’s probably just the fact I’m a conflict junkie.

All credit to Armstrong, she certainly pulls off a climactic ending to the series – and that’s a whole lot harder to achieve than she makes it look. I’m very glad Himself spotted these books – reading episodes of Otherworld goodness has provided a welcome respite from a damp, gloomy winter.
9/10

Review of Frostbitten – Book 10 of the Otherworld series by Kelley Armstrong

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Himself has discovered that Armstrong had been busy completing this entertaining series, so decided to track down the books we hadn’t yet read. Starting with Bitten, this urban fantasy series charted the stories of various female protagonists in Armstrong’s supernatural world. And Frostbitten returns to Elena, who featured in Bitten, with this next slice of her adventure.

frostbittenAfter years of struggle, Elena Michaels has finally accepted her life as a werewolf, and learned how to control her wild side. At least, that’s what she believes when she sets off to investigate a series of gruesome murders outside Anchorage. The truth, however, is more complicated. Trapped in a frozen, unforgiving terrain, Elena is forced to confront a deadly secret, and her own untamed nature…

Hm. I’m not overly impressed with this blurb – it makes this book sound like Elena spends a chunk of the narrative agonising over the nature of her own supernatural status… how she is going to cope… what will happen next… While all those issues are present, they are niftily interleaved amongst the full-on action that kicks off right at the start of the book and don’t stop until the final page.

One of the things that impresses me about Armstrong is how much these books vary in tone, depending on who the protagonist is. In No Humans Involved – see my review here – the tension builds slowly and steadily throughout as Jamie battles to work out exactly what is going on. In Personal Demon – see my review here – Hope and Lucas are trying to work out who is responsible for the trail of mayhem, so my attention was held by their unravelling the puzzle. Whereas in Frostbitten, we get to know fairly quickly exactly who is responsible for the murders – the tension comes in whether Elena and Clay can prevail against the mutts. And what Elena is going to decide to do regarding the future of their Pack…

I really enjoyed this update on a character I loved in previous books, and I think Armstrong has achieved a difficult trick – to show a character’s maturation and greater sense of responsibility without her losing her edge. Which is a great deal harder than she makes it look. It was also enjoyable to take Elena right out of her comfort zone and deposit her in a different part of the country – Armstrong has been smart in this long-running series to swing the action around in a variety of different settings, which has also helped to retain the freshness and excitement of each story. I also very much like how she has portrayed the relationship between Elena and Clay, now they are settled with a family.

She tackles a difficult subject – and one I’ve become increasingly intolerant as a plot device – Elena’s feelings when cornered by a rapist. While I’m not going to divulge how she fares – that strays into spoiler territory – I was gratified to see that even though as a werewolf, she is fitter and stronger than the average woman, she was absolutely terrified, and made no bones about it. Quite right, too.

Any woman who has been in that situation knows it is an utterly horrible experience and I get very fed up when writers serve it up as just one more assault. And when the heroine bounces back, right as a trivet so that by the end of the novel, she quite happy to resume her sexual relationship with her boyfriend – the book goes flying across the room, along with a barrage of language I won’t be repeating here. Armstrong has her strong, capable heroine very afraid to the extent that she finds it difficult to function – in other words, she feels like the rest of us when confronted with such a threat.

So, does the story come to a successful conclusion? Oh yes – I was delighted with this slice of werewolf edginess and am eagerly looking forward to reading the next in the series.
9/10

Review of Personal Demon – Book 8 of Women of the Otherworld series by Kelley Armstrong

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Recently, Himself and I discovered that since we’d read the last Women of the Otherworld series, there were a few books that had either slipped through the net, or Armstrong had added and given that we’re both fans of her writing, we decided to track down these books.

personaldemonHope Adams, tabloid journalist and half-demon, inherited her Bollywood-princess looks from her mother. From her demon father, she inherited a hunger for chaos, and a talent for finding it. Like full demons, she gets an almost sexual rush from danger – in fact, she thrives on it. But she is determined to use her gifts for good.

When the head of the powerful Cortez Cabal asks her to infiltrate a gang of bored, rich, troublemaking supernaturals in Miami. Hope can’t resist the excitement. But trouble for Hope is intoxicating, and soon she’s in way too deep…

Hope is a really interesting character. We first meet up with her in No Humans Involved – see my review here – when she tries to help Jaime in her investigation. Armstrong has a nifty device in her Women of the Otherworld series – each book features a different female protagonist within her world. So she is able to give us different slices of her paranormal community from a variety of perspectives, giving her world a complex, layered quality.

Armstrong’s characters are always appealing and each one is different, with their own particular strengths, weaknesses and obstacles to endure or overcome. Hope – the name is ironic – finds herself drawn to chaos and people who attract or create strong emotions, such as fear, anger or excitement. So working undercover with the gang provides her with plenty of opportunity to get hits of the rush. Until a particular person from her past turns up, convinced that she is in over her head and determined to extricate her from her current situation.

Hope’s story isn’t the only one in this book. Lucas Cortez, husband of Paige, and declared heir to the Cortez Cabal and fortune, also becomes entangled in this affair when the Cortez cabal finds itself grappling with a major situation. As he flies in to deal with this particular emergency, we also get reacquainted with characters who have featured in previous books, allowing us to follow their continued character arc throughout the series. It is a nifty trick – given the number of different characters within Armstrong’s Otherworld, I have found it relatively easy to keep track of exactly who has done what to whom.

I enjoyed Hope’s adventure and her impulsive attraction to danger. As for the antagonists – there is a theory that in a thriller such as this, it is the baddies that are the engine of the story. Their motivations and actions are the triggers that create the drama along with the resulting fallout and Personal Demon is a classic example of how this can be effectively achieved. Without lurching into spoiler territory, I found the antagonists in this tale riveting and terrifying, while their motivation comes from a deep-seated longing to feel secure. The wrenching truth is that their reasoning for doing what they do is spot on. Which is an uncomfortable truth and raises a dilemma – if you feel yourself threatened with good reason, are you entitled to strike back with sufficient force so as to eliminate that threat even if it involves killing innocent people? Judging by the rising body count in parts of the world such as Syria and Israel, far too many folks think the answer is yes…

But don’t go away thinking this book is remotely dry or preachy. Armstrong is far too an accomplished storyteller to get bogged down in anything that will hold up the driving force of her narrative. This is an entertaining, paranormal romp with a dose of sexy excitement among the other mayhem that abounds. As winter trudges onward, curl up in front of the fire and get whisked away. You don’t even need to have read the other books, although I recommend you do.
9/10

Review of No Humans Involved – Book 7 of The Women of the Otherworld series by Kelley Armstrong

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It is the most anticipated reality television event of the season; three spiritualists gathered in one house to raise the ghost of Marilyn Monroe. For renowned medium Jaime Vegas there’s just one problem. Unlike her colleagues, Jaime is the real deal – and she knows the house is truly haunted. Not by dead film stars, but by something even stranger and much more disturbing…

nohumansinvoledI really enjoy Armstrong’s writing – read my reviews of Men of the Otherworld here and Omens here. This popular and trailblazing series, started back in 2001 with Bitten, features women caught up in the paranormal world one way or another. So while Bitten deals with Elena, a young journalist pitchforked into the middle of werewolf society – in No Humans Involved Jaime has to deal with the sudden appearance of ghosts in ‘I see dead people’ moments. Constantly…

Fortunately, she does have coping strategies to prevent her going mad – one of them being that she is very well connected with a number of highly placed and powerful otherworldly characters. As this is the seventh book in the series, these characters have generally already appeared along the way. I really enjoy this feature of Armstrong’s writing – it is always a pleasure to get a different take on a protagonist in another story and she is very good at this technique. It doesn’t hurt that Jaime, though undoubtedly glamorous and good looking, is also aware that the clock is ticking, her waistline isn’t getting any trimmer and the laughter lines are in danger of turning into crowsfeet… In other words, she reflects many of the anxieties women past a certain age can experience on a daily basis. Obviously, the fact she’s a celebrity means those concerns are heightened, but it is still something of a treat to read an urban fantasy romp that doesn’t feature a fit, perky young thing with all her vitality and good looks before her. I also love her self deprecating humour. Of all Armstrong’s female heroines, Jaime holds a special place in my heart…

So in this murder mystery, does the story hold up around her? Oh yes. Armstrong quickly pulls us to the centre of this disturbing mystery by also giving us chilling slices in the perpetrator’s viewpoint, without revealing her identity– and it was also an enjoyable extra layer to discover that the baddie is also a woman… Meanwhile, Jaime is juggling the needs of the director, coping with professional jealousy from both her co-stars, while also trying to deal with her feelings about Jeremy Danvers, the Alpha werewolf who takes a vacation to meet her. Question is – does he also reciprocate her feelings? And is there really time for any sort of romance when there are trapped ghosts waiting for Jaime to help them?

I gobbled this book up in a couple of sittings when I should have been sleeping, but once I started reading I simply couldn’t stop. The conclusion was suitably dramatic and climactic, with a couple of surprises along the way. Great fun! And if you haven’t yet treated yourself to any of Armstrong’s keynote series – don’t start with this one, get hold of Bitten and feast on an entertaining, thoroughly enjoyable world.
9/10