Monday, August 27, 2012

13 by Kelley Armstrong: book review

13 by Kelley Armstrong. Orbit £16.99

Reviewed by Jan Edwards

13 is the final and – yes, the thirteenth – volume in the Women of the Otherworld series, since Bitten, the first in the series, appeared in 1999.

War is coming thanks to a cult led by the insane immortal Gilles de Rais’s, hell-bent on exposing the world of vampires, werewolves and demons to the world at large by creating immortals of his own design, and under his control.

13 follows directly on from (for me at least) the slightly disappointing Waking the Witch and Spellbound, and is a welcome return to form!  Yes we still have the irritating Savannah to contend with (21 years old - going on 12) but though ‘Savannah effect’ is central to the themes it is thankfully diluted by the presence of all those characters we’ve grown to know and love: Elena and Clay; Paige and Lucas, Jeremy and Jaimes; Hope, Eve and all the rest. Plus some old enemies we have come, delightedly, to hate, such as Jaz, Balaam, Josef etc.

I did feel at times that we were being led through an i-dotting and t-crossing exercise, but given the scope of the WOTO series, this has to be expected, and I don’t think it detracted from the overall reading satisfaction-factor; though it is, of course, not a book that could be read in isolation.  A knowledge of at least some of the previous volumes is essential to understand the plot and character dynamics. But I doubt that a newcomer to the WOTO universe would start with this volume, anyway, so it’s not really an issue. The pace is good and the character interaction excellent as we follow the crew through a minefield of demon plots and politics, and of avenging angels, by way of Savannah’s mother – formerly Demon’s daughter and evil witch – to a rousing crescendo in de Rais’s underground lair out in the wilds of America’s corn belt.

While the novel does have a satisfactory ending, it does, whatever the author may protest, leave everything wide open for sequels, prequels and spin-off narratives. Nevertheless, even if you have read only a few of the previous twelve Women of the Otherworld volumes, 13 is well worth your time.

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