Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Review: 'Otherworld Nights' by Kelley Armstrong

Otherworld Nights (Otherworld Stories, #3)Kelley Armstrong and her books have been floating around in the corners of my eyes for a very long time and yet somehow I never managed to get my hands on her books and really sit down. Many thanks, therefore, to Orbit for giving me a review copy of this book.

This short story collection will include many brand-new tales and others only previously available on Kelley Armstrong's website. Most of the stories will feature the werewolves of the Otherworld, Elena and Clay, Jeremy, Karl and other members of the American Pack. These are some of Kelley Armstrong's best-loved and most enduring characters, from bestselling books such as BittenStolen and Frostbitten.
Armstrong is best known for her Women of the Otherworld series and it is in the name of her series that one of her main strengths is already laid bare. Armstrong writes amazing women. Having had bad experiences with books about vampires and werewolves, I decided to lay them to rest a few years ago, sadly missing out on some genuinely good books. Urban Fantasy is a genre that has slowly but surely been recognized for the fact that it gives us some of the most interesting female characters currently around. I think it is almost sad that I so much enjoyed reading a collection of short stories all about women of different age, different backgrounds and at different stages in their life. Although internal monologue can become a bit dreary at a certain point, it was really nice to see Armstrong slip into the minds of these different women. Armstrong writes them well and writes them as interesting and although not all parts of them were equally easy to identify with (they are supernatural after all) they were still great characters.

Having not read any of Armstrong's other books I may be in the best position to actually judge her short stories on their own merit rather than as companion pieces to her books. I am a big fan of short stories and anthologies, but my main peeve about them is stories that don't seem to contain themselves. I enjoyed each story in Otherworld Nights in its own right since Armstrong made sure that each was self-involved and made sense from beginning to end. Although at times I could sense that maybe I was expected to know a lot more about these characters already, Armstrong constantly explained everything that was necessary for each short story or novella. Something that her frequent readers already know but I only know discovered, was the joy of the stories interconnecting. A character mentioned in one becomes the main character in a different story or figures as a warning in the last story. For other, as yet, uninitiated Armstrong-readers I highly recommend reading her books or stories because it feels, quite dramatically, like entering a real world in which key figures are connected to each other and as such all matter to you.

Armstrong's writing hardly needs me to praise it since her position as a bestselling author would be confirmation enough. I am someone who often talks about her aversion to many supernatural/paranormal narratives because they are almost always impossible to relate to. Much of this is due to the fact that  too many authors get lost in adjectives and in trying to force upon the reader how incredibly mystical everything is. Armstrong thankfully leaves most of the adjectives out and places her characters in quite realistic scenarios and settings. Whether it's an American forest or a standard urban setting, it was never too far off the possible. Armstrong paints her character portraits through actions rather than through words, which means that while you're reading you come to know the characters to longer the stories progresses. Her descriptions can be beautiful and sometimes a bit horrifying, but Armstrong never writes what's unnecessary.

I give this book...

4 Universes!

I can definitely see myself picking up this anthology again and rereading some of its stories. Armstrong's stories are great even for those who haven't read her other books and can be enjoyed on their own, although they're bound to make you want more. The characters are interesting and the stories are captivating. Otherworld Nights has definitely managed to do one thing: get me more excited and motivated to pick up the first book in her Women of the Otherworld series, Bitten.

Otherworld Nights is available from today!

2 comments:

  1. OOh nice review! I finally got approved for review on this one and now I find myself with no time for it before its release! Typical luck! Still plan to read it though because I do love her Otherworld series! Glad to see you enjoyed this one!

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    1. I loved it despite having never read a book from the Otherworld series, so I'm sure you'll love it! :)

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