Monday, 10 February 2014

Review: Bitten (Women of the Otherworld #1) - Kelley Armstrong

Elena Michaels is a werewolf. She tries to be human, but the man whose bite changed her existence forever, and his legacy, continue to haunt her. Thrown into a desperate war for survival that tests her allegiance to a secret clan of werewolves, Elena must reconsider who and what she is.

Something a bit new for me today on the blog, coinciding nicely with the start of the adaptation currently airing in North America on SyFy (Ok, so it actually started three-ish weeks ago, but you can't blame me for being behind, the UKs not getting it for a while). While Bitten has been on my to read list for some time I've never quite managed to get round to it.

 I'll admit this is my first fully-fledged, out and out fantasy romance and I loved it. I really loved the premise of Armstrong's 'Women of the Otherworld' series, a fantasy series revolving around a strong, female character and since Armstrong's first novel came out in 2001, this seems fairly original to me (although correct me if I'm wrong, initiate that I am). All other fantasy romance novels I've stumbled across feature an irresistible supernatural male falling for the naive, human ingĂ©nue.

I really like the voice of the novel, namely Elena Michaels, and I'm not usually one for the overt first person narrative. Elena, despite being a werewolf, is so disarmingly human. She's not perfect, or even that weird slightly imperfect that you often come across in romance novels in an attempt to make a character relatable; she's petty, vindictive, surly and superior. Elena is the woman who speaks her mind and does what she wants, but she's also disarmingly vulnerable. She doesn't trust easily (understandably), she doesn't really know who she is or where she fits in, and she also has some predictable man troubles. Elena is the quintessential strong female that we all want to be, yes she's a little bit superhuman werewolfy but her issues are all very relatable and real. Armstrong has a great knack for reflecting contemporary issues facing women today, without going too far or getting too allegorical.

Being in a male dominated world, Elena is surrounded by overbearing male characters, the most important of which are Jeremy and Clay. Jeremy is both the pack alpha and Elena's pseudo father figure and is an all round charming character; whereas Clay, our domineering hero and the source of the book's sexual tension and escapades, is the perfect loyal bad boy. As the overarching plot goes, I actually have quite the fondness for crime novels so I really enjoyed it, finding it clever and interesting. I enjoyed how Armstrong didn't sugarcoat the werewolf experience or life, the fantasy aspects of the novel flowing well, even for a newbie like myself.

Overall, Bitten is funny, sexy and a really strong start to a series that I think I am going to throughly enjoy. While perhaps not a traditional romance the romance aspect of the book really won me over. I'd be interested to hear from any of you who have seen the tv series, what do you guys think of it?

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