Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Bitten by Kelley Armstrong

Urban fantasy is filled with uber talented authors, unique worlds, and fabulous characters. One of the early (and now longtime) players in the genre is Kelley Armstrong. Her debut, Bitten, was released back in 2001 and kicked off her highly popular Women of the Underworld series. This month, the series wraps up with the release of Thirteen.

One of the interesting things about Armstrong's series is the fact that much of it can be read in just about any order you like. The narrators are different and the stories do typically stand alone -- for the most part. With the finale coming up, a host of characters are making appearances and I'd really like to know who they all are before hitting the final title, so I'm starting from the beginning and filling in my reading holes.

First up, Bitten.

Elena is a werewolf. Not by birth and not by choice, but it's a fate she's learned to live with. Her abrupt introduction into the were world was softened by support from the local Pack. After years alongside them, though, Elena has finally struck out on her own. Now she's got a solid relationship, a steady career, and in spite of the difficulty hiding who she is, she's doing alright. But when the Pack summons her, Elena knows she has no choice but to return. After all, they've vowed never to contact her unless it's an absolute emergency. And this is an emergency. Survival of the Pack means staying under the radar and a mutt is preying on humans in Pack territory. If they can find the mutt and stop him before it's too late, the Pack might be safe. If they can't contain the mutt, all hell could break loose!

Elena has been a peripheral character in some of the titles I've read, but this is my first time reading her story. In fact, I've discovered that she's by far the most popular lead in the series (in terms of number of books), serving as narrator in Bitten, Stolen, Broken, and Frostbitten as well as a number of shorts.

Given that my introduction to the series has been through Savannah Levine, I've been excited about getting to the witch installments (Dime Store Magic and Industrial Magic) but I have to say that now I'm temped to skip around and continue with Elena!

Elena is one cool cat... er... wolf! She's strong and she's opinionated. She's all around the perfect heroine for a slightly gritty, slightly romantically tinged, paranormal series! I'm curious as to whether she was intended to carry the whole series or if Armstrong always planned to introduce other leads? Probably something she's addressed throughout the years...

As for the series itself, I love the various elements that go into each story. They're thrillers, they're mysteries, there's some romance (as mentioned), and then there's the paranormal aspect. It's our world as we know it but with weres and witches and demons and ghosts sharing our space.

Thirteen hits shelves on July 24, so there's plenty of time to dive into the series or play catch up like me. There's a new especial available, too.

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