I’m one of those people that can be found more often than not with a book in my hand, so when I was asked to review a few books for FanaticSpace, I jumped at the chance. The first one on my list happened to be Waking the Witch by Kelley Armstrong, the eleventh book in her Otherworld Series. (Disclaimer for FTC regulations – I have received this Advanced Reader Copy at no cost from the PR department, Wunderkind PR)
I was a little worried that being thrown straight into a long-established series would make it much harder to review, and there was only one time that I felt a bit left out because I didn’t have the history from the prior books in the series to refer to, but unfortunately, that one time was during the climax of the story. More on that later, though, because this is almost a side-issue due to the rest of the book.
Savannah Levine, who has had a supporting role in many of the other Otherworld books, takes lead in this book. If you’re a fan of the series so far, you’ve watched Savannah grow up in this series, and at twenty-one, she’s ready to strike out and prove herself. For those of you new to the series, as I was, Savannah is the daughter of a dark-arts witch and a cutthroat sorcerer, both deceased, but both having left their mark on her. I had a little trouble appreciating Savannah as a narrator at first, but within the second chapter or so I came to understand and remember being a brash twenty-one year old out to show the world that she was capable.
When her guardians take a vacation, she’s left to take care of the private investigation firm that they run, mainly dealing with the supernatural. A half-demon shows up with a possible job for her guardians, and Savannah jumps at the chance to show that she can handle a case on her own, accepting the case which takes her to a little Oregon town that has seen better days in search of a possible supernatural serial killer. Once there she gets hit from all sides by a commune who makes gourmet cookies while practicing Santeria, the brother of one of the murdered girls who happens to be a Dallas detective, a precocious daughter of another of the murdered women, and a small town big-shot who knows a bit too much about both the occult and more than recreational drug use. As she starts to dig deeper into the case, she finds that not everything or everyone is the stereotype that she has placed them in her view of the world and this town in particular.
Kelley Armstrong really does have a way to get you hooked into her world and her characters are easy to believe, but I had a extremely hard time with the climax due to my lack of knowledge of her series before this book. I was completely entertained until the “Big Bad” is revealed, and I’m trying to keep it as spoiler-free as I can, but I’ll try and leave it as simple as possible… without reading the prior books, wikipedia was my savior to explain what it was that I had finished reading. It was an action-packed and suspenseful climax, but I kept feeling like I was missing something to really have the importance of what was going on.
That said, this book has really gotten me interested in playing catch-up and go back to read the earlier books, and with the almost cliff-hanger like ending that I was left with at the end of this book, I am craving the resolution that I felt was a little missing from the ending of this particular book, and I’m hoping that the next will resolve the outstanding issues left from this one.
So, I do believe that I’ve become a fan of Ms. Armstrong’s work, but I really need to stress that I think that you need to have some of the missing back story to fully appreciate her new book. The story itself was very good, but this is most definitely not a standalone book that is in her world, but a continuation of the main story arc of her series.
Waking the Witch will be available on July 27, 2010 from Dutton hardcover .