I have long been a fan of Kelley Armstrong's Women of the Underworld series. Armstrong's strength lies in her ability to create amazing visuals of her urban fantasy world. She also has strong female characters, an interesting premise in that the protagonist changes with each book featuring a different supernatural woman. That said, not all of her books are created equal and this one fell flat for me.
This is my second time reading this book (I'm re-reading the entire series slowly) so going in all I remembered was that this book featured werewolves Clay and Elena -- my favs. Unfortunately the plot wasn't as riveting as I was hoping for.
What the book did have going for it was that it was set in Toronto. I love it when I can picture locations in a book because I've walked those streets myself. I also love it when Canadian authors write about Canadian locales and not automatically make a book set in the U.S 'just cuz'. It's a pet peeve of this Canuck reader.
One of the big issues I had with this book is that it focused too much on Elena's pregnancy. I suppose this was to be expected but, quite frankly, I didn't find it all that interesting. As someone who has been in the pregnancy trenches three times it was hard to believe that a woman who is at the end of her final trimester, even though she's a werewolf, could do all of the things Elena did. She couldn't tie her shoe but she could kick zombie butt? Ummm, ok. And the reason why she continued to keep putting herself and her pregnancy in danger (because she was bored) didn't ring true for me. During this pregnancy-fest Clay and Jeremy lost quite a bit of their toughness as they took on the roles of worrying mother hens due to her 'condition'. Don't get me wrong, I liked that Elena and Clay's relationship is taking on new ground but would have much preferred for it to be in the background with more focus on the mystery plot.
The mystery ... hmmm. I wasn't a fan of the zombies and Jack the Ripper/time portal plot line. It was weak at best and not described in enough detail for this reader be interesting. I did enjoy seeing the Pack back in action as well as the addition of Torontonian vampire, Zoe (who I hope makes more appearances in future books). She added some energy to the plodding plot.
Overall, this wasn't a bad read but it definitely wasn't one of the stronger books in the series either. I loved that it was set in a Canadian locale and progressed the personal aspects of Clay and Elena but unfortunately I found the general plot lacking.
** This review can also be found on my blog, The Baking Bookworm
on April 23, 2008
This isn't the first novel where Elena is the main character, and I love how Armstrong puts you inside her head. Elena is a strong woman/werewolf with a head on her shoulders and guts to do what needs to be done. In this novel, not only does she have 'bad guys' to worry about, but she's pregnant as well, and that has her worried with nightmares to match. You feel what Elena feels right down to your core and you root for her constantly.
Clay is his usual self, completely devoted to Elena, and still has his own worries and insecurities.
The plot is excellent, lots of action to keep you on your toes. Not as many love scenes, but there's a reason for that. Won't say what it is, don't want to spoil it for a potential reader. A plot twist that I really hadn't figured out until it was almost too late, and I love when an author does that to me, LOL! I think the ending is absolutely perfect - I couldn't ask for better. These novels are different than the usual vampire/werewolf/sorcerer/witch/demon novels I've read and not only do I give it a huge two-thumbs-up, but a definite recommendation!
BROKEN by Kelley Armstrong-a review
BROKEN is the 6th novel in Kelley Armstrong's Women of the Otherworld series. BROKEN continues the story of Elena, Clay and the other werewolves, but this time Elena is pregnant. As the only known female werewolf, Elena isn't sure what to expect'literally. But when someone from her past calls in a favor, Elena knows this could be her final chance for adventure, before giving birth.
Ever since Elena Michaels discovered she was pregnant, she has been unable to concentrate. As the months pass and the pregnancy advances, shape-shifting, her ability to fight and running with the other Pack members has become increasingly difficult and worrisome. Without the benefit of prior knowledge or experience, Elena, Clay and Jeremy are cautious and reticent'if news were to spread about her pregnancy, she would become a bigger target than just Clay's mate. When Xavier Reese, a former 'inmate ' from Ty Winsloe's compound of supernatural beings, calls in a favor, Elena jumps at the chance for the distraction. Xavier has been commissioned to find and retrieve the 'From Hell' letter, supposedly one of the last known pieces of evidence and DNA from Jack the Ripper, but he requires Elena's expertise'basically, the werewolves are the only beings who could pass through the sorcerer's 'spell' protecting the document. One problem-the 'From Hell' letter is currently owned by Patrick Shanahan, a sorcerer living in Toronto, and there are many 'beings' looking for the 'letter'.
Once the letter is in their possession, a series of catastrophic events take place in the Canadian city. Witnesses report missing people, zombie-like beings, an outbreak of cholera and typhoid as well as a string of unexplained murders. It is not until the trio learns that part of the curse of the 'From Hell' letter, that whom ever is in possession, must make a 'blood sacrifice' to trigger the release of 'Jack', do they realize they may be responsible for the strange events happening in the city. And the only blood sacrifice that was made'Elena killed a mosquito containing her own blood. Meanwhile, a confused and lost soul exits the portal into the 21st century
With the blood sacrifice, a portal is opened into the otherworld, where zombies exit and people fall victim to its' curse. But while tracking and fighting the zombies, Clay's arm is puncture by one of the 'undead' and without thought of the consequences, he ignores his wounds. Without giving away too much of the plot, zombie scratches can be fatal, and a very sick and ailing Clay has only a couple of options'amputate the arm or die from infection.
When a very pregnant Elena is abducted, they come to realize, that Elena is now the target and no longer the 'letter'. Clay and Elena's children will be the ultimate sacrifice in a game of evil, between the mystery man from the portal and zombies wreaking havoc throughout Toronto.
Once again, Kelley introduces a few new supernatural beings such as Zoe Takana , a female vampire with eyes for Elena, and brings back the characters we love. Nick and Antonio Sorrentino are called to Canada to assist with the hunt for 'Jack the Ripper', and Jaime Vegas, a beautiful clairvoyant and necromancer (and a burr up Clay's backside), aids the werewolves with the eradication and the return of the 'undead' back to their own time.
Broken is one of my favorite Women of the Otherworld storylines. Clay's spiral into a fevered delirium is not without its' scary moments and we watch Elena and Clay become a family with the birth of their child(ren) as we are drawn deeper into the lives of everyone involved. The birthing scene is heart warming and humorous, and you can almost hear the panic in their voices. Paige as their 'long-distance' birthing coach is something that can only be imagined by a writer like Kelley.
on May 7, 2006
You might accuse werewolf Elena Michaels of being many things, but sedentary would never be one of them. Pregnancy hasn't dulled her sense of adventure. If anything, it seems to have heightened it. So when Xavier Reese contacts her after a three-year silence and calls in an old favor, she's intrigued despite her better judgment. Soon Elena is off to Toronto but not without her fiercely protective lover, Clayton, and her Pack Alpha, Jeremy Danvers. Their mission: to quietly retrieve (ahem, steal) an old letter rumored to have been written by none other than Jack the Ripper.
Of course plans go awry and a seemingly simple mission turns into a complicated adventure. Through a strange chain of events, our small group of werewolves unwittingly triggers an old spell tied to the stolen letter, and open a portal to Victorian London right in the middle of downtown Toronto. With the portal opened, the city is turned upside down, first by a pair of murderous escapees who seem more than a little fixated on Elena, then by an outbreak of cholera.
For the werewolves, time is of the essence. They want to close the portal as soon as humanly (or in-humanly) possible and get back home. But for that, they'll need help from old and new friends alike. Broken sees the return of many familiar Otherworld alumnai, including Jaime (a necromancer whose experience with the walking dead certainly comes in handy) and fellow pack members, Nick and Antonio Sorrentino.
The werewolves usually like to keep to themselves, but desperate times call for desperate measures and reluctant alliances. There's Anita Barrington, a knowledgeable old witch who claims she might be able to help; Zoe, a vampire with a long list of supernatural acquaintances; Matthew Hull, a mild mannered portal escapee, and Dr. Randall Tolliver whose medical expertise is required on more than one occasion.
But how many of these new friends have hidden agendas of their own? The question remains unanswered until the very end when lives hang in the balance.
Kelley Armstrong-true to form- has written a novel that has it all: adventure to make your heart race, a little romance to make your heart race faster, spine-tingling suspense to tickle your brain, and a few well placed laughs to pepper the drama with a comic relief. Rabid readers of the Otherworld series have waited anxiously for this latest Pack-centered novel, and 'Broken' does not disappoint. Elena's familiar wit and fierce determination make her a heroine readers love to root for. I'll be waiting for the next book in the Otherworld series with bated breath.