Review: Waking The Witch by Kelley Armstrong

Title: Waking the Witch

Author: Kelley Armstrong

Series: Women of the Otherworld #11

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Publisher: Orbit

Summary (from Goodreads)

The orphaned daughter of a sorcerer and a half-demon, Savannah is a terrifyingly powerful young witch who has never been able to resist the chance to throw her magical weight around. But at 21 she knows she needs to grow up and prove to her guardians, Paige and Lucas, that she can be a responsible member of their supernatural detective agency. So she jumps at the chance to fly solo, investigating the mysterious deaths of three young women in a nearby factory town as a favor to one of the agency’s associates. At first glance, the murders look garden-variety human, but on closer inspection signs point to otherworldly stakes.

Soon Savannah is in over her head. She’s run off the road and nearly killed, haunted by a mystery stalker, and freaked out when the brother of one of the dead women is murdered when he tries to investigate the crime. To complicate things, something weird is happening to her powers. Pitted against shamans, demons, a voodoo-inflected cult and garden-variety goons, Savannah has to fight to ensure her first case isn’t her last. And she also has to ask for help, perhaps the hardest lesson she’s ever had to learn.

What’s Good About It

I’m a long standing fan of the Women of the Otherworld Series. I think Kelley Armstrong does the perfect realistic heroine and Savannah is a perfect example of that. The super-powerful witch could easily have become the most annoying character in the series – no one likes a character that is all powerful. It’s boring. But Savannah is far from boring and that’s because, despite being super-powerful, she has a whole load of realistic flaws that make her so very human. Yes, she weilds more magical power than most covens, but she also has huge insecurities, a desperate need to prove herself to Paige and Lucas, her adoptive parents, an unrequited love for half-demon Adam Vasic, and a real aversion to asking for help. She does stupid things, makes mistakes, misses stuff, and people get hurt. But she’s also brave, determined and resourceful – things we all wish we would be in a crisis. She’s the sort of heroine we believe we would be capable of being, which makes for brilliant escapist reading.

The plot is just the sort of thing you would expect from Armstrong – tense, taught and filled with murder and intrigue. There was never a moment when I thought ‘Someone please open Savannah’s eyes, because this is so obvious’ which is my quality control test for mystery novels of any nature. I hate guessing things ages before the character does (if I’m not supposed to) and I didn’t once have this problem in Waking the Witch.

The book works well as an addition to the series, but if you are new to it it’s a reasonable place to start. It’s light on reccurring characters, and though there are a few references to previous events that it would be better to know before reading, it’s not the end of the world if you don’t, as there are reminders weaved into the prose for the benefit of both schools of reader. Personally, I think you’d be better off starting from the beginning and enjoying the series in its entirety –  all the books in it I’ve read (and I’ve read most) are fab – but if your library/bank balance does not allow, then you can still enjoy this one.

What’s Not So Good

I didn’t like the ending. I can’t say too much without spoiling it, but while the main thrust of the story was wrapped up, this felt more like ‘part one of two’ than a standalone novel, which most novels in this series are. They feature reccuring characters, and the same narrators are often revisited, but each book stands alone. This one doesn’t, so much. While nothing is left so open as to be annoying, it was a bit too cliffhangerish for my taste. Mostly because I don’t know when the next book is out, but it will probably be ages too long 😀

Rating: 4.5/5

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