Waking the Witch (Review)

Title: Waking the Witch

Author: Kelly Armstrong

Publication Year: 2010

Pages: 384

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy

Source: E-book version borrowed from the public library

From the cover:

Columbus is a small town, untouched by the 21st century. But when three young women are found dead – victims of what appear to be ritual murders – things start to get very dark and dangerous. Private investigator Savannah Levine can handle “dark and dangerous”. As the daughter of a black witch, she has a lot of power running through her veins. But her arrival in Columbus has not gone unnoticed. Savannah may think she’s tracking down a murderer, but could she be the killer’s next target? Of course she could always ask her old friend (and half-demon) Adam Vasic for back up. But Savannah has her own reasons for keeping Adam well away from Columbus. And in any case, she can rely on her own powers…

(This is the eleventh book in the Women of the Otherworld series, after Bitten, Stolen, Dime Store Magic, Industrial Magic, Haunted, Chaotic (novella), Broken, No Humans Involved, Personal Demon, Living With the Dead, Angelic (novella), Frostbitten, and Counterfeit Magic (novella).)

I can’t even describe how much I loved this book.

First of all, it’s the first one narrated by Savannah. I’m actually kind of glad that she wasn’t a narrator in the series before, because there’s something about having seen her grow up and then getting to hear her own voice that’s kind of awesome. She basically turned out exactly how I had expected, and that’s a pretty awesome thing to behold.

Waking the Witch includes a great mystery for Savannah to solve, which ends up leading to lots of adventure and drama. I also really enjoyed getting to see how Savannah and Adam interact now that she’s all grown up … and still has a crush on him! It was great to see how she’s dealing with that situation, and also just to see them bantering back and forth like they’ve known each their entire lives which, I suppose, is true to a slightly lesser extent.

I thought that I would miss some of the other characters in the series, but to be honest, they weren’t really necessary. Armstrong told a great story focusing primarily on Savannah (and a little bit on Adam), and the few mentions of the other characters were best used purely for context and framing the story within the greater narrative arc of the series.

Waking the Witch was one of my favourite books in the series so far.

Rating:

Angelic (Review)

Title: Angelic

Author: Kelley Armstrong

Publication Year: 2010

Pages: 104

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy

Source: E-book borrowed from the public library

From the cover:

As a half-demon master of the dark arts, Eve Levine isn’t what anyone would call angelic. That’s exactly why the Fates chose her for the job. She’s their secret weapon against the forces of evil. However after five years, Eve is tired of being the designated rebel of the angel corps, expected to break the rules, then penalized for it. When the leaderless djinn stage an uprising, Eve sees the perfect chance to get herself fired. As she plunges deeper into the demon world, though, she realizes she’s in danger of losing a lot more than her job.

(This is a novella in the Women of the Otherworld series, after Bitten, Stolen, Dime Store Magic, Industrial Magic, Haunted, Chaotic (novella), Broken, No Humans Involved, Personal Demon, and Living With the Dead.)

I was excited to read a story from Eve’s point of view again. I really loved her in Haunted, and was looking forward to more of the same.

While this novella does have a bit of that, I thought it was a bit lacking. There was a mystery to be solved, sort of, but the real strength to me of Eve’s character is in her interactions with others, and that wasn’t really the focus here. Her and Kristof were very rarely in the same space together, and there wasn’t even all that much banter between her and the Fates to keep things lively.

Overall, it was a it disappointing, and the series wouldn’t really be missing anything without it.

Rating:

Living With the Dead (Review)

Title: Living With the Dead

Author: Kelley Armstrong

Publication Year: 2008

Pages: 560

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy

Source: E-book version borrowed from the public library

From the cover:

Smart, sexy, and supernatural — the men and women of the Otherworld live unseen among us. For the most part, mere mortals never suspect their existence — and that’s the way they want it. But now a reckless killer has torn down the wall between our worlds, trapping one very vulnerable, and very mortal, woman in the supernatural cross fire.

Robyn Peltier moved to Los Angeles shortly after her young husband’s sudden and unexpected death. Her hope was that her hectic new life as the PR consultant to a spoiled celebutante would provide a distraction from her grief. But when her client is murdered, Robyn finds herself on the run as the prime suspect. And as more bodies pile up around her, it seems only her friend, tabloid journalist Hope Adams, is on her side.

But Hope and her somewhat spooky boyfriend Karl know it’s just a matter of time before Robyn is caught. For she’s gotten herself in the middle of a turf war between two Otherworld races who’ll spill any amount of blood — human and inhuman — to protect what they consider theirs for eternity. And the only way Hope can save her friend is by letting her enter a world she’s safer knowing nothing about.

(This is the ninth book in the Women of the Otherworld series, after Bitten, Stolen, Dime Store Magic, Industrial Magic, Haunted, Chaotic (novella), Broken, No Humans Involved, and Personal Demon.)

I had trouble with this book in the beginning. The story is told from multiple points of view – Robyn, Adele, Hope, and Finn – and three of those narrators are characters that are new to the series. Because of that, I had a bit of trouble empathizing with any of them in the beginning besides Hope (and, through her eyes, Karl). Everyone else was just … there.

Once I got to know the narrators better, though, I started to appreciate their perspectives being brought to the table. It wouldn’t have been quite the same story had I not been able to “see” things happen from more than one perspective. There would have been too much missing to get a clear picture of what was happening.

In the end, I really enjoyed the adventure and the way that things came together. I’m not sure that I’d care to read more from Robyn’ or Finn’s perspective, but I appreciated the story they told in Living With the Dead.

Rating:

Frostbitten (Review)

Title: Frostbitten

Author: Kelly Armstrong

Publication Year: 2009

Pages: 400

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy

Source: E-book version borrowed from the public library

From the cover:

Smart, sexy, supernatural — the men and women of the Otherworld live and love, fight and die, among us. Unseen and unsuspected, this realm of witches, ghosts, and werewolves is now threatened with exposure by a brutal series of bizarre murders that has left even the supernatural world baffled — and cold with terror….

Being the world’s only female werewolf has its advantages, such as having her pick of the Otherworld’s most desirable males. And Elena Michaels couldn’t have picked a more dangerously sexy and undyingly loyal mate than Clayton Danvers. Now their bond will be put to the ultimate test as they follow a bloody trail of gruesome slayings deep into Alaska’s frozen wilderness.

There’s nothing the werewolf community dislikes more than calling attention to itself. So when a pair of rogue man-eaters begins hunting humans, it’s up to Elena and Clayton to track down the predators. But any illusions their task would be simple are quickly dispelled. For even in werewolf terms, there’s something very disturbing taking place in the dark Alaskan forests. A werewolf more wolf than human and more unnatural than supernatural is on the hunt — a creature whose origins seem to spring from ancient legends of the shape-shifting Wendigo.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, Clayton and Elena find themselves confronting painful ghosts from their pasts — and an issue neither of them is eager to discuss. For one of them has been chosen to become the new Pack leader, and as every wolf knows, there can be only one Alpha. They’ve always been equals in everything. Now, when their survival depends more than ever on perfect teamwork, will instinct allow one of them to lead…and the other to follow?

(This is the tenth book in the Women of the Otherworld series, after Bitten, Stolen, Dime Store Magic, Industrial Magic, Haunted, Chaotic (novella), Broken, No Humans Involved, Personal Demon, Living With the Dead, and Angelic (novella).)

I was really excited to get back to Elena as a narrator in this novel. I’ve actually come to really like the other narrators in the series – particularly Eve and Hope – but there’s something about Elena and the werewolves that I’ve missed.

Frostbitten is a mix of a lot of things: part mystery, part Shifter mythology, part Pack politics, and part personal struggle. Personally, my favourite bits were the mystery of what’s happening in Alaska and Elena’s personal struggle dealing with her past trauma in the context of their current situation. The other things were essential and brought the story together, but they weren’t what caught me most.

The fights and chase scenes were a tiny bit repetitive, but they were also a fair bit different than anything in the series before. This is the first time that you really see much werewolf-on-werewolf fighting in the series, and the kind of dialogue and internal processing that happens (particularly in Elena’s case) is essential to the story.

I also really loved seeing how Elena and Clay interact with each other now that they are getting older, have kids, and are looking forward to taking over the Pack leadership from Jeremy and the previous generation. It’s like they’re all growing up and morphing the series into something more serious and thought-provoking.

Frostbitten felt like a turning point in the series to me, bringing everything full circle to the werewolf Pack. It’s also a fast-paced read that you’re sure to enjoy.

Rating:

Personal Demon (Review)

Title: Personal Demon

Author: Kelly Armstrong

Publication Year: 2008

Pages: 544

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy

Source: E-book version borrowed from the public library

From the cover:

Tabloid reporter Hope Adams appears to live the life of an ordinary working girl. But in addition to possessing the beauty of a Bollywood princess, Hope has other unique traits. For she is a half demon — a human fathered by a demon. And she’s inherited a hunger for chaos. Naturally, when she’s chosen by a very dangerous group for a very dangerous mission that will take her through Miami’s hot spots, she jumps at the chance. But Hope is a little too good at this job. And soon she’s in a little too deep. To save herself, she’ll have to unleash her most primal instincts — and open herself, mind and body, to everything she most fears . . . and desires.

(This is the eighth book in the Women of the Otherworld series, after Bitten, Stolen, Dime Store Magic, Industrial Magic, Haunted, Chaotic (novella), Broken, and No Humans Involved.)

I hadn’t really loved the half-demon characters in the series so far, but Hope turns out to be the exception. I wish I had read Chaotic before I read this one – I kind of skipped the novella by accident – so make sure you do that first if you’re going to read Personal Demon. So many things will make more sense to you than they did to me.

It was kind of fun reading about Hope’s chaos magic. Her power is so different from the other magical powers we’ve encountered so far in the series that it really led to this book feeling original and unique. Hope is such a fascinating character, and we also got to know a bit more about Carl Marsten through this book. Everything was just … fast-paced and exciting, not that the others weren’t, but this one was different.

There’s also the introduction of an unexpected villain in Personal Demon that really kind of shook me. He was sort of this weird mix of a great personality and a really big problem for Hope. He wasn’t the sort of out-and-out evil villain that we’re so used to in this series, and I think that made him more effective. It definitely kept me intrigued by the conflict in the book longer than I usually am.

Rating:

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