It’s been more than ten years since Kelley Armstrong began the Otherworld series and drew legions of fans to a realm roamed by witches, werewolves, necromancers, vampires, and half-demons. Many of the novels have become bestselling favorites, but not all of the Otherworld adventures have been easy to find. At last, Otherworld Nights shares short stories that have previously been available only online or in obscure collections. Fans have long been clamoring for this anthology and they won’t be disappointed—they’ll find plenty of surprises are in store.
In comparison to “Men of the Otherworld”, this book has really failed to come close to the same standard of short stories. Add to that Kelley Armstrong’s inability to provide a clear ending to several of the stories and this anthology of short stories really fails. Below are my individual story reviews:
I must admit, I was surprised by how disinterested I was in this story. As a mother, I can understand Adam’s mother’s concern for her young son as he begins displaying his abilities. I just felt overall this short story served very little purpose. Armstrong’s strong suit comes in short stories for already established characters and much like the on she did for Aaron, this one lacks any real appeal. Even as Robert Vasic agrees to tell Adam’s mother the truth, the reader doesn’t get to live in that moment. Only the moment before as he demonstrates his ability to control the weather, without telling her he’s doing it. It’s all too vague and really Armstrong focuses way too much on couples and less on interesting plot line.
Rating: Two stars
I will admit, I have never been a fan of the vampires in the Women of the Otherworld. With the exception of have extraordinary healing powers and the slight ability of manipulation, they really are kind of pathetic on the supernatural hierarchy. As for Cassandra, I can admit I despised her from the time she used Elena’s kidnapping as a means of putting the moves on Clay in “Stolen.”
However, I will also admit this short story was fairly interesting. One part of being a vampire is the knowledge that one must complete a single kill before the anniversary of their rebirth. Cassandra’s is merely hours away and for some reason she cannot bring herself to do it. Part of this is due to her growing disinterest in anything in general, a clear sign she is a few years, maybe decades from the end of her life. But even when Aaron finds her a kill, as she begins to feed, she becomes physically ill from it and is unable to finish.
I actually thought Armstrong was going to take this down a different path than she did. For one, it would have been interesting if perhaps Cassandra had been hexed and thus, that was the reason for her putting off her annual kill. Instead it is vague as to why she becomes ill and one can only assume it’s a side effect of her coming closer to her death or going past her anniversary date. What could have been a strong short story from one of her least likable characters, fell apart in the end as Cassandra makes her annual kill, one suck and one near vomit at a time.
Rating: Three Stars
As much as I am a fan of Elena Michaels and Clay Danvers, it is short stories like this that really irk me. For one, this particular story is brought up during the series, without any regard to the fact, most casual readers would not even know to read the short story first. That being said, the short story itself doesn’t give away anything pertinent, only reaffirms that Elena is pretty viewed as a “bitch in heat” any time she comes in contact with a mutt.
Trying their best to enjoy their honeymoon in St. Louis, Clay and Elena realize it’s not only boredom that is threatening their time alone, but a cocky mutt. Of course, neither realizes the other is aware of the mutt’s appearance and there are a few times when they both sneak off to investigate alone. Younger and physically larger than Clay, the mutt feels it’s his duty to prove Elena has chosen the wrong werewolf. If anything this begins to lay the ground work for Clay needing to reprove himself as the Enforcer of the Pack. Especially with the younger generation of werewolves believing him to be a liar and a fake. Nevertheless, it is only when Elena and Clay come together that they are able to thwart the mutt’s efforts and kill his partner before winding up all hot and heavy in a set of bushes.
Rating: Three Stars
I didn’t hate this short story, in fact, it was interesting enough, I wish it had been part of the series. Perhaps the North American Pack has to deal with the Australian Pack and Reese is forced to admit to Elena why no one must know he’s there. Truth is, Reese is just a small character in this series and sadly, because of that I had no real interest in this story and wound up skimming through most of it.
That being said, his backstory is more intriguing than I would have thought. For one, he was conceived when his mother was raped by three werewolves and the member of the Pack that was sent to take care of her wound up falling in love. The three of them lived in isolation, hidden away from the reaches of the Pack until Reese begins college. There he stumbles upon a young helpless woman who is being attacked. Little does he know, she is setting him up, as she is the daughter of the Pack Alpha. This betrayal of his heart goes even further as it leads to the death of his mother and step father and forces him to run to the States, where he eventually encounters Clay and Elena in “Frozen.”
Rating: Three Stars
There’s not much I can say about this short story. The truth is, I didn’t even bother with it. Hope Adams is by far the worst character Armstrong created for this series. She’s dull and utterly powerless as her powers leave her feasting off of chaotic thoughts, feelings and events. Even her relationship with Karl is a snooze fest. So yeah, if you want another dull engagement story, this is perfect for you.
Rating: One Star
Clearly Armstrong is most comfortable with writing about Clay and Elena. If there was any doubt to that fact, one need only to read all the short stories dedicated to the couple. This one in particular was good, but it still had some issues. One of my biggest issues with authors is their inability to make children sound like children in books. For example, Logan is a genius and speaks like one and yet Kate, who is more average (in comparison to Logan), speaks just as thoughtfully and clearly as if she were a teenager. It is not common for a four year old to speak as if they have a psychology degree.
Anyways, Elena and Clay find themselves in Canada for the Christmas holidays with their children. However from the get go, they are on high alert as a local mutt approaches them. He claims to know no other werewolves besides his brother, but a it’s clear he’s hiding something. In the end, they discover it is the mutt’s younger brother is a pedophile who killed a local teenage boy in order to frame him for trying to keep him from going after little girls. This of course brings up Elena’s past with being physically abused by men as a child. A part of her past I wish Armstrong hadn’t included because it gets mentioned in nearly every single story Elena is in and it’s just played out. Very good short story and if you can ignore yet another way to mention Elena’s being molested as a child and how obnoxious it is that yet another author believes all children are geniuses, you’ll be able to enjoy this.
Rating: Four Stars
From Russia, With Love
This is yet another example of Armstrong’s inability to provide a real resolution in the majority of her short stories. I originally read this particular story last week when I finished “Thirteen” so I will just copy and paste what I wrote in that review about it:
The issue I have with this book is a lack of true resolution. Yes, in the end, the good guys won and were able to stop those who supported a supernatural revelation. But with this kind of book and especially with the tone of the threat to the supernatural world tearing apart at the seams, it would have been reasonable to assume at least one (but more likely more than one) of the mains would have perished. But much like L.J. Smith, Armstrong doesn’t possess the ability to realize not all endings should end with “Happily Ever After.”
I also am offended by her desire to impart a short story with Elena as a means of ending the series with the ones it began with. While I appreciate the sentiment and said I wanted it to end that way. But this way is not to handle this. First off, the short story has a major plot hole in which, Elena grants protection to an old contact and his “friend”, without even knowing who this so called friend is. This would leave one to believe this is opening a door to a new book, but seeing as Thirteen is the final book, it just leaves you wondering why Armstrong even bothered.
Rating: Two Stars
There’s really nothing wrong with this short story about Savannah, Adam, Paige and Lucas. In fact, I thought it was a decent short story that Armstrong could have easily drawn out into a book. It’s more of the placement of the story. While I realize the stories in this book are probably done more in timeline order, the final two short stories follow a particularly long novella about Elena and Clay. It throws off the balance of the book as a whole, but fortunately doesn’t take away from this story.
Savannah finds herself in yet another mess, as she callously informs a young boy of his brother’s death following a demon summoning. Little does she realize, she’s stumbled into her’ Uncle Josef’s pursuit of the young boy for his extraordinary genetically enhanced demon powers of teleportation. It is only with the aid from her brother, Sean and his guarantee the boy may choose his own path when he comes of age, that she is finally able to focus on taking the next step with Adam and finding a place of their own.
Rating: Three Stars