Catching up with the Otherworld

>> Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Having reserved Personal Demon at my library as soon as it came out, I'm now all caught up with Kelley Armstrong's Otherworld series. So now to post about them. I'm only up to the third book here, so here's a little something about the rest.

BTW, if you don't know anything about this series, this review is probably not the best place to start reading about it (which makes sense, because these books are not the best place to start with the series itself).

TITLE: Industrial Magic (# 4)
EXCERPTS: prologue, chapter 1, chapter 2

Industrial Magic again has Paige Winterbourne as a narrator, and continues to develop her relationship with Lucas Cortez and their tense interactions with his powerful Cabal family. Lucas is used to his father, Benicio, trying all kinds of ploys to involve him in Cabal business. He usually has little trouble resisting his offers, but the latest case he's asked him to investigate touches a chord both with him and Paige. Cabal kids are being murdered, and only someone with Cabal links, and yet operating outside them (i.e. only Lucas and Paige) have a shot at stopping the murderer before more children die.

I liked this a lot. The case and the investigation are cool; we finally meet Jaime here, and she's a great character from the very beginning, but there's also some very eccentric vampires and a glimpse of what's on the other side. But the best thing about the book is the relationship between Lucas and his father. It's as complicated and impossible as Benicio himself, and you really feel for Lucas, torn as he is between his ethics and his love for his father.

There's some very nice romance as well. In the previous book, we saw Lucas and Paige getting together, but here their relationship strengthens and grows, and reaches a commitment, and it was just as satisfying as the courtship.


TITLE: Haunted (# 5)
EXCERPTS: prologue, chapter 1, chapter 2.

Haunted is one weird book. Good, but weird. For starters, it takes place almost wholly in this strange kind of afterlife for paranormal beings, where black witch Eve Levine went after she died. Eve is Savannah's mother, and she's been obsessed with watching over her daughter and trying to contact her ever since she passed on to the other side. She owes a favour to the Three Fates, the beings who control the afterlife she's living in, and as the book starts, they call it in. Eve must capture the Nix, a half-demon who's escaped and has been wreaking havoc in the human world for years and years. Basically, the Nix craves chaos, and what it does is go into humans and give them the courage to kill. The Fates have already sent three hunters after the Nix, but all have failed. Maybe Eve won't?

It's hard to conceive of a book like this succeeding when the main character is, after all, dead, but Armstrong manages it. Eve is a fantastic character. We'd heard a lot about her in the previous books, and even seen her briefly in the last one, and she fulfills all that promise. She's resourceful and tough, and unapologetic about all she's done in life, and yet does have a core of goodness. She loves her daughter, and as much as she would like to deny it, cares deeply about Kristof, Savannah's father, who's joined her in the afterlife and would very much like to have a real relationship with Eve (and if it's hard to conceive of a plain story where the main character is dead, how about a romance where both are? And yet it works as well).

Eve's hunt for the Nix takes her to some fascinating places. This afterlife Armstrong's created is certainly unique, with some very scary and original places. Very definitely not fluffy clouds and harps! But the most interesting element is seeing her deal with a very big and surprising decision regarding the Fates plans for her. Cool stuff.


TITLE: Broken (# 6)
EXCERPTS: chapter 1, chapter 2.

Probably the weakest book in the whole series. We're back to Elena and Clay (probably by popular demand, and my theory is that this is probably why the book was so weak), who in this book get sucked into in a situation involving stolen letters from Jack the Ripper. By accident, a portal between Toronto and Victorian London seems to have opened, through which some very scary characters may be crossing. And making things even more complicated, Elena is pregnant. First female werewolf, first pregnancy in the pack? Protective insticts triggered!

I was very excited when I started reading because I thought the Jack the Ripper connection sounded promising, but it ended up being a bit boring. No the plot itself, but the actual investigation. Elena and Clay just seem to be doing the same things again and again, coming across as a bit ineffectual, I'm afraid.

I did like the relationship stuff better, though. There's a level of trust between Elena and Clay that just wasn't there in earlier books, and it made me have a bit more confidence in them. Clay seems to be getting better at controlling his controlling tendencies (if not because he thinks it's the right thing to do, because Elena wants him to, and that counts), and I also liked the whole Pack dynamics, as well as Jeremy and Jaime's developing relationship.


No Humans Involved is # 7, but I read it out of order and so I've already reviewed it here.

TITLE: Personal Demon (# 8)
EXCERPTS: chapter 1, chapter 2.

This time we've got two narrators. The one I'd consider the main one is Hope, whom we met in the previous book. Hope is an Expisco half-demon, which means she senses chaos, making her an excellent trouble detector. Problem is, she also craves chaos, and though she's a good person and not someone who'd do evil things just to create chaos she can consume, she's still afraid of what's inside her.

In this book, Hope is asked by Benicio Cortez to infiltrate a supernatural gang who's apparently giving the Cabals some trouble in Miami. Since it's a way to repay him for a favour (and it's NOT a good idea to owe the Cabals a favour) Hope agrees, telling herself that the fact that she'll be coming in contact with some chaos while doing a good deed is not one of the reasons for her agreement. Soon Hope is realising that she relates to some of the gang members quite a bit, so when someone starts targeting and killing them one by one, she's determined to find out what's going on. In this, she'll have the help of werewolf Karl Marsden, with whom she shares a very complicated relationship.

I quite liked this one. It's not the best in the series, but it's good. I enjoyed Hope and her voice, and I appreciated her mixed feelings about the gang, as well as the development of her relationship with Karl. I wish we'd seen a bit more of Karl, actually, maybe from his point of view.

I also liked having Lucas as the secondary narrator. Hmmm, maybe calling him the "secondary" narrator is a bit misleading, because there are some huge things happening on his end, especially relating to his complicated family relationships. In this book, Lucas and Paige have to make some complicated decisions, decisions where none of the options are ideal. I liked this area even more than the Hope parts.

As for the negatives, there is a developement there near the end which worried me, in terms of what it's going to mean for the series and the direction it's going to go in. There are characters introduced which have some powers I thought were excessive. I'm not sure why this makes me so uncomfortable, maybe because if used right, there's no way they can be defeated. I'm at the same time intrigued by how Armstrong's going to deal with this and worried, because it's just too much. And I'm probably not explaining this well, but there it is. *Sigh*, just ignore me.



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