Review: Waking the Witch (Women of the Otherworld #11) by Kelley Armstrong

This is going to be the last Otherworld book review for a while, because they’re so compulsively readable that I read nothing else for a while and now I’m Otherworld-ed out. That being said, Waking the Witch is a good, entertaining and interesting book, and I read it in a couple of days without ever feeling like I was making myself continue.


This cover breaks away from the design of the others, but it looks close to how Savannah is portrayed. I don’t know why Savannah is groping her own butt, but it’s not bad by cover standards, just not outstanding either

One of the most popular writers of paranormal fiction and the #1 New York Times bestselling author returns with a rollicking new novel in her Otherworld series.At twenty-one, Savannah Levine-orphaned daughter of a notorious dark witch and an equally notorious cutthroat sorcerer-considers herself a full-fledged member of the otherworld. The once rebellious teen has grown into a six-foot-tall, motorcycle-riding jaw-dropper, with an impressive knowledge of and ability to perform spells. The only problem is, she’s having a hard time convincing her adoptive parents, Paige and Lucas, to take her seriously as an adult. She’s working as the research assistant at the detective agency they founded, and when they take off on a romantic vacation alone, leaving her in charge, Savannah finds herself itching for a case to call her own. (She’s also itching for Adam, her longtime friend and colleague, to see her as more than just a little girl, but that’s another matter.)Suddenly, Savannah gets the chance she’s been waiting for: Recruited by another supernatural detective, she travels to Columbus, Washington, a small, dying town. Two troubled young women have been found in an abandoned warehouse, murdered. Now a third woman’s dead, and on closer inspection small details point to darker forces at play. Savannah feels certain she can handle the case, but with signs of supernatural activity appearing at every turn, things quickly become more serious- and far more dangerous-than she realizes.

Kelley Armstrong writes small towns well, and I really appreciate urban fantasy that isn’t arbitrarily set in one of the same five major American cities. The setting of a dying small town was an interesting backdrop for Waking the Witch, and allowed for some quality feminist critique specific to small, relatively confined environments. The book does cover issues like sexual and physical assault, domestic violence and child abuse via neglect, so if these topics are triggering for you it’s probably better to avoid this one.

I really liked the development for Savannah over the course of the series from moody teenager to confident young woman; the way her crush on Adam is played out is a great example of this. A childhood crush lasting to adulthood could easily read as creepy or unrealistic, but Savannah’s healthy approach (and Adam’s non-acknowledgement of the crush while she was young, and seeming ignorance of the remaining feelings) allow this instead to just be another part of the book1.

I liked that Savannah was allowed to be a sexual being without being painted as wanton, or somehow acting out. I liked Michael as a character, and his interactions with Savannah were a fun way to flesh out her character in a way that still developed the plot. If you’re looking for strong, dynamic female characters, this series is a great one.

The plot of this novel gets a little complicated towards the end, but the main mystery of the novel is an interesting one, with plenty of suspects. This book is a shift from the Paige-Lucas or Elena-Clay focussed books that make up the bulk of the Women of the Otherworld series, and the introduction of characters like Jesse and Michael help to ‘sell’ Savannah and Adam as main characters.

If you haven’t read any preceding Otherworld books, don’t start here; but if you’re a fan of Rachel Vincent’s Shifters or Menagerie series or the earlier novels in Kim Harrison’s The Hollows series, the Women of the Otherworld series (and Waking the Witch) could be for you.



1As well as a believable obstacle in the way of them being a couple, a sometimes difficult hurdle for any books with a significant romantic aspect to the plot

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