What I’m Reading: Kelley Armstrong – 13

So now it is finally over. Kelley Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld series was the first Paranormal Fantasy I ever read and it has remained my favourite over its now complete run of 13 volumes (plus some novellas). While I respect Kelley Armstrong’s decision to finish the series while it was still going strong, I can’t help but be a bit sad about it because I never had the feeling that the series was going stale or its author growing tired of it – maybe due to the ingenious device of having different protagonists for the novels and thus making the series very much of an ensemble thing, it always remained fresh and exciting (helped, of course, by Kelley Armstrong’s talent for creating and handling characters, keeping them plausible and convincing even as she throws them into hair-raising, supernatural adventures).

This also holds true for 13, the final part in the concluding trilogy, like the previous two installments once again told by Savannah as first person narrator. Beside her chapters, though, we also get – an absolute novelty in the series – five (six, if you count the prologue) chapters that are told from the point of view of each of the previous narrators of the series. While those chapters do not appear strictly necessary for this individual novel, they make structural sense when viewed in the larger context of this being the final volume and capstone of Women of the Otherworld. Also, they are great fan service.

I was particularly delighted to find that my personal favourite Eve did not only get two chapters (the prologue being told from her perspective, too) but that she also for a time returns to our world. Also different from most previous volumes, 13 is not standalone, even less so than Spellbound was – it picks up directly where that novel ended, and I had some difficulties get back into the flow of things again because (my memory being what it is) the events of the previous volumes had grown a bit hazy in mind (that, I suppose, is a downside of my never doing plot summaries in these posts – I can’t use them to look up what  happened before in any series).

Being the conclusion to the series puts quite some strain on 13, and the novel does occasionally buckle under that weight, namely when the author tries to do too many things and let almost everyone who ever played a major part have their moment in the spotlight – sometimes it feels like you’re reading a digest of the whole series, or as if the events from all the previous novels were whizzing past in front of your eyes in fast motion; combine that with our heroes flitting from city to city, and  it’s enough to make a reader dizzy. Still, 13 is a very satisfying conclusion that I enjoyed greatly, and not that much of a conclusion to exclude further adventures in this world if Kelley Armstrong should ever feel so inclined (which, needless to say, I am hoping she will). In fact, there is a big, fat thread left ostentatiously dangling in this novel, that just begs to be picked up in a novella, and I would be very surprised if that did not happen at some stage.

Either way, I am curious to what Kelley Armstrong will do next, and hope that she will not completely go over to YA literature but will continue to write for adults. A new Nadia Stafford novel would be very nice indeed…

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