Book Review: Otherworld series by Kelley Armstrong

* This is an overview review of the Women of the Otherworld Series, not just one book*

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Synopsis: The series began with Bitten in 2001 and  continued for thirteen novels, introducing other supernatural characters –witches, ghosts, necromancers, half-demons.  The books spin off to the stories of these other characters, all within this fantasy world and usually connected in some way. Past characters continued to appear in guest roles and often returned to narrate new novels or short fiction. After Thirteen, the final novel, the series continued with short fiction and novellas until 2016.

Covers: While Random House publishes all the books, for some reason they fall under at least three imprints. The hardcover books are RH, the trade fiction from Vintage Canada, and the pocket paperbacks are Seal books. Due to this, there are different styles to the cover art. The most recognizable is probably the artistic ones with a single image on a black background, but there is a secondary look with covers containing the common thread of a necklace with a star charm that seems only vaguely witch-like.

Setting: I love how some stories bring characters to Toronto, Ontario. Yes, there are locations like New York and Florida, but I’m a proud Canadian and don’t think there are enough books set in the True North.

Plot: While a couple of books unfold somewhat predictably, most story lines are full of twists and surprises. Kelley has built a world where anything is possible, and you can hardly even guess at what will happen next. By the time you reach the end of the series, the only thing you can expect is the last thing you would guess. Yet even if you do guess correctly, it doesn’t dampen anticipation for whatever may follow.

POV: Each book in written in the first person, so reading one after the other can get confusion if the subsequent book’s main character has the same skills as the previous novel’s heroine. It is so much easier to track if the fmc is of a different supernatural race, but that’s on me rather than due to a lack of quality in the writing. Occasionally the books do have a change in narration to another character’s perspective, but in those instances the chapter heading indicates who the character is and it is also written in the third person to help create differentiation.

Character Development: While most readers who have been following the series from the beginning may prefer Elena or Paige, my preference has been Savannah even before I realized she’d get to narrate a couple of books of her own. Starting out in the series and a pre-teen, we get to watch as Savannah goes from a frightened child to an unfeeling brat to a well-balanced individual. She’s had such a troubled life that the reader can’t help but feel for her, and like her even as you think she needs a good swift kick to smarten her up.

Romance: Elena and Clay, Paige and Lucas, Jeremy and Jaime, Hope and Karl, Savannah and Adam, even Eve and Kristof… All the heroines managed to fall in love in this series, which makes me assume the only reason why Sean doesn’t get a happily-ever-after is because he’s gay. The series is focused on the women of the Otherworld to be sure, and this sorcerer obviously isn’t going to fall in love with one.

Unfulfilled Promise: Sean and Bryce are bothers who decided to follow their father’s footsteps after their dad died by getting jobs in the Nast Cabal. As Savannah’s half-brothers they play a small role in the series and are the only characters whose story feels unfinished. The series ends with Bryce’s survival, but what will he do with his life? He’s unhappy and bitter working for the Cabal when he prefers art and cooking. Sean says he’ll finally come out of the closet, but will he ever? Will the uncle run the cabal or will there be another dust-up resulting in Sean’s getting only part of the Cabal or nothing at all?

Personal Thought: It may just be me, but I felt like Robyn’s story came out of nowhere. She may have had a mention in a previous novel, but failed to make an impression as I don’t recall her character at all. Neither Robyn nor Finn stick around afterwards either, though it is expected when their story ends with them planning to attend a council meeting. It doesn’t seem like the pair were brought in for any other reason than to present the back-story for a child mentioned again later on. It is a good tale, but Robyn and Finn were shoved aside and left dangling when their usefulness was essentially finished.

Note: Haunted freaked me out enough that I had to finish the novel before I could sleep. Go figure that a possessed serial killer is more disturbing than the following book’s Jack the Ripper based tale.

Quote: I swear, thirteen-year-old girls speak a language no linguist has ever deciphered. I remember some of it, but rarely enough to decode entire conversations –– Dime Store Magic

Verdict: When I fist tried this series years ago I couldn’t get into it. I loved the young adult trilogy Darkest Powers, but didn’t get past the first couple books of the Otherworld. It may have been my age or it may have been my mood, because this time I couldn’t stop reading until I was finished all thirteen books. There are two more books consisting of short stories, that may or may not tie up the ends I felt were still dangling a bit. Kelley is an amazingly gifted author with a talent for the paranormal. I would highly recommend reading her books and look forward to whatever else is yet to come.

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Author: JaimeKristal

JaimeKristal is a freelance editor and writer. She started her book review blog "Tales of a Booklover" for the enjoyment of sharing her love of reading.

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