Families in the American Pack have deadly agendas in Kelley Armstrong’s collection of werewolf tales, Men of the Otherworld.
Out of the two novellas and two short stories here, I’d already read three in previous incarnations, when they were available free on the author’s website. Now they can only be found in this anthology, with the proceeds going to World Literacy of Canada.
“Ascension” is a fine short, focusing on Jeremy Danvers’s birth. The racist, unlikable Malcolm Danvers manages to attract a quiet Japanese lass, but she has a definite plan to keep the resulting baby from his father.
Though Malcolm is a character you’ll want dead, or at the very least slapped, he at least has somewhat of a unique voice. I’ve read the Otherworld novels and short stories – Clay Danvers, Lucas Cortez and Jeremy all have very similar voices. And when these are written in first person, it becomes even more obvious. The same with the female characters, though when we first met Jaime Vegas as a secondary character, she at least seemed to be drunken and clumsy. But once she starred in her own novel, her distinguishing characteristics faded. I love these books’ intriguing plots, but the characters aren’t quite standing out as different from one another.
“Savage” traces Clay’s back story – how he was bitten, and became Jeremy’s “son”. I still don’t understand why Clay wanted to become a werewolf, and why Malcolm bit him instead of just killing him. It’s kind of tedious.
“Ascension” tells of how Jeremy became Alpha. There’s a lot of political faff, bitchiness, and killing people to raise your own status – and that’s just Malcolm, let alone his followers. This has a more engaging plot than “Savage”, but still seems to plod along.
Then there’s a new short story, “Kitsunegari”, where we learn the mysterious origins of Jeremy’s ancestors. It deals with paranormal beings I hadn’t heard of before, so yay for something new and interesting. But see above for character notes. I preferred Jeremy and Jaime when they were both single. Now a lot of scenes end with a saucy sentence, and closed-door shagging. Gets old fast.
Whilst World Literacy of Canada is a worthy organisation, I still wouldn’t recommend paying hardcover price for this anthology. Luckily for those in the UK and Australia, this is being released first as a paperback. Those in the US and Canada will have to buy the hardcover now, or wait months for a paperback.
I still very much plan to follow any and all of Kelley Armstrong’s works, but reading the Otherworld series (adult, not the YA’s Darkest Powers) doesn’t seem to enthuse me as much as it once did. I’ve become far too picky in my old age…