The most recent entry in Kelley Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld series (the twelfth, if you don’t count the two volumes of short stories) differs from the previous ones in that it is markedly less standalone. This is not just because it is a direct continuation from Waking the Witch, picking up immediately after that novel’s cliffhanger ending, but also because it is is very open-ended, presumably leaving things to be finished in the next installment which is apparently going to be the final in the series.
Spell Bound hence being the penultimate volume, it comes as no surprise that it has a feeling of Grand Finale about it. I did not care much for the Big Apocalyptic Plot Involving A Momentous Destiny For Our Main Character that was rearing its head during the events unfolding here – while I don’t mind a bit of doomsday atmosphere, one if the things I’ve always liked about Armstrong’s novels is the way she kept her conflicts local and personal, and in consequence that more relatable. What I on the other hand greatly enjoyed about Spell Bound was the way it gathered pretty much all the characters from previous novels together with a lot of lose threads left hanging from those volumes and wove them all into the current narrative – I admit that I did not re-read the previous volumes to check but from what I remember about them it seemed quite deftly done to me.
And as always, Armstrong’s greatest strength is her characterisation – like the novel preceding it, Spell Bound is told from Savannah’s perspective and she grows up even more here, developing in an entirely believable way from a spoiled, over-confident teenager into a mature adult who is aware both of her strengths and her limitations. It is great fun to watch her grow up like this, and frequently quite funny, too – seeing her go for relationship advice to, of all people, Clay and Cassandra caused a lot of chuckling and chorting on my part. It will be a pity to see this series come to an end, but I’m also greatly looking forward to the final installment.