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Monday, March 2, 2009

Bitten by Kelley Armstrong

Bitten (Women of the Otherworld, Book 1) Published: 2001
Pages: 448

What a great debut novel. A strong plot with an edginess that really works & great characters with realistic flaws. Kelley Armstrong's writing has personality & character, and a darker tone than many paranormals I've read but Elena's childhood experiences and the betrayal she endured as an adult makes this slightly darker tone seem quite appropriate. The book is narrated in first person by Elena, a humanly flawed, tough, passionate, sarcastic character.

Elena, the only female werewolf in the world (this is not as trite as it sounds) has abandoned her pack to pursue a life among humans. In 'Bitten' there are two types of werewolves; born & bitten. There are no 'born' female werewolves as the werewolf gene passes from father to son & Elena is the only woman ever to survive being bitten.
The Pack calls Elena home to help them fight an alliance of rogue werewolves (mutts) and although Elena is obliged to rejoin her family, she is determined not to be swept up in Pack life again, no matter how natural it feels.

I would not have said I was a huge werewolf fan (until now) but I loved Armstrong's fresh take on werewolves. Any werewolf that does not belong to a Pack is a 'mutt'. Pack wolves live under a strict heirarchal system, they protect each other & abide by a moral code. Mutts live on their own, hence answering to no-one & they don’t hold territory, so therefore they experience none of the compulsions of pack werewolves to protect their existence from the human race. Armstrong's werewolves are a wonderful blend of subtlety, balance & raw animal instinct, in other words I found them quite believable. They age more slowly than humans, but are not immortal. They are stronger than the average human, can run faster & heal more rapidly but they can be killed the same as any non-supernatural being; no silver bullets here. Certain werewolves have empathic and even telepathic bonds with one another but the connection is really no more supernatural than the bond between twins.

The sex is not gratuitous, it is used to explain the complexity & evolvement of Elena's relationships within the human & werewolf species and without giving anything away, I did find one aspect of this a little confronting. I also struggled with the dynamics between Clay & Elena. Clay betrayed Elena when they were lovers at college, biting her & forcing her into life as a werewolf, & as an adult human with additional trust issues. Far from turning me off, these elements added to the story's realism and believability for me.

I liked the pace of Bitten and the action packed plot but I particularly loved Elena's search for her true self. I've already ordered Stolen, the next in the Women of the Otherworld series

Royal Rating:


Alaine said...

Sounds great, can't wait to read it!

Marg said...

This is probably my favourite series. You can't really tell in this first book, but the rest of the series includes just about every type of paranormal creature you can imagine, and I just love it!