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Reviews of books in a series, with a focus on urban fantasy.
Other genres include mystery, paranormal romance, and crime thrillers.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Frostbitten (Women of the Otherworld, Bk 10) by Kelley Armstrong

I like Elena, but to be honest I never really liked Clay all that much. Truth is, that's because I didn't understand him. After reading Men of the Otherworld, I think I understand him a lot better. Since this is an Elena and Clay story, that's kind of important.

I think one of the things that authors of the Urban Fantasy genre struggle with is how to make their supernatural characters vulnerable. I mean, let's face it - someone with the strength and healing abilities of a werewolf, and who regularly uses force (or death) to intimidate werewolves who get out of line.... that's not someone you'd normally use the word vulnerable to describe.

But Kelley Armstrong does a wonderful job of keeping Elena human, and all humans have insecurities and hangups and baggage. Or at least, all of the humans I know, do. Elena may be super strong and super fast and an excellent fighter, but she's no Mary Sue.

I believe that Kelley Armstrong has used Frostbitten to set us up for several new plotlines. Many of the old plotlines have been resolved, and it seems the author has gone back to the beginnings in order to start new plotlines. The series started with Elena, and now the next stage of the series will once again start with Elena. Even the title is similar (Bitten, now Frostbitten). I wasn't terribly excited about the release of Frostbitten, and in part that is because the series had grown a bit... not stale, but it was beginning to be more of the same. I can see several new possible plot lines stemming from this book. Frostbitten was a pleasant surprise, it was really good.

Frostbitten starts out with Elena, while she and Clay are in different cities. I appreciate that, as Elena seems to do a lot more introspective thinking when Clay isn't around. Elena's chase takes her to Alaska, and Clay meets up with her there. The pacing of the very beginning is a bit off, as we are brought up to speed on things, and the pacing has a bit of an issue about two thirds of the way through. Not enough to say the book's pacing as a whole had issues, just that there were a few places that it didn't quite work.

The twins are back home with Jeremy and Jaime, but there are phone calls so we get an idea of how the twins are growing up. I have a feeling that eventually we'll learn a lot more about them, but for now we're given enough of a glimpse into their lives that we begin to get an idea of their personalities. Not really a part of the plot of this book, but I was glad we got to "meet" them a bit at this point in their lives.

I should probably post the blurb before I go too much farther:

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?

That probably gives you a few ideas of what I'm talking about with new plot lines. A completely new supernatural race who leave with a woman, anyone else think she may one day be telling us her story?, and a new Alpha of the North American pack. Yeah, that's two plotlines I'd love to see followed. There is also something we learn from a Russian wolf that might mean Elena has family she doesn't know about, and I'm really interested in seeing where that may lead us. (Select the spoiler text to view it.)

We also meet several new wolves, some good and some bad (and some really, really bad). I'm betting that one of the wolves in particular has quite a story, possibly even a pack somewhere in North America that so far has flown under the North American Pack's radar.

I seem to be thinking about future books more than I'm reviewing the book I just read. Is that the mark of a good book, one that makes you consider what might come next? I think so.

Back to Frostbitten: Elena is a fully three dimensional character. She has been in past books, and this book just goes that much deeper into who she is, and who she is going to be (but there I go again, thinking about future books). The plot in this book was very well done. The action was also very well done, though in a few places it felt like I'd watched a particular scene in a few action movies (for instance, chasing a bad guy along the top of a moving train). The pacing was mostly okay, and the book tied in well with the rest of the series. There are phone calls with Jeremy (who is with Jaime), there is a phone call with Hope, and Paige is helping to run down credit card transactions as Elena chases her prey across country at the beginning of the book. These other characters aren't a big part of Frostbitten, but they are around, and that's a nice touch.

I can easily give Frostbitten a 10 of 10, though I'm keeping the series at a 9 of 10.

Book Rating, Frostbitten: 10 of 10
Series Rating: 9 of 10

As for future books, Kelley Armstrong's site shows two upcoming books, a novella and an anthology of short stories, but does not tell us what the next full length book will be about. However, Amazon has Waking the Witch posted already, and tells us that this will be Savannah's book. So much for new plotlines, huh? I mean, I knew all of the old plotlines weren't finished yet, and this is one we've known would come eventually. I'm still looking forward to seeing where Kelley Armstrong takes us with the new possibilities she raised in Frostbitten.

1. Bitten (2001)
2. Stolen (2002)
3. Dime Store Magic (2004)
4. Industrial Magic (2004)
5. Haunted (2005)
6. Broken (2006)
7. No Humans Involved (2007)
8. Personal Demon (2008)
9. Living with the Dead (2008)
_. Men of the Otherworld (2009)
_. A Fantasy Medley (anthology 2009)
10. Frostbitten (Nov 2009)
__. Angelic (Women/Otherworld) Kelley Armstrong (Dec 2009)
__. Tales of the Otherworld by Kelley Armstrong (April 2010)
11. Waking the Witch

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