Oct 23, 2011

Book Review–Spell Bound by Kelley Armstrong

Spell Bound by Kelley Armstrong is the 12th novel set in the Women of the Otherworld series. 

Now despite being an international best seller, I had not come across any of Armstrong’s work before, which perhaps owes more to my geographic isolation than anything else.

Judging a book by its cover
Perusing the series covers on Kelley’s website I perceive two distinct groups being targeted by Armstrong’s publishers – readers of Twilight who have matured and the paranormal romance segment.

The cover above, however, says Urban/Paranormal Fantasy to me and I find it better captures the tone of the book and I suspect the series. Spell Bound is distinctly romance ‘lite’. While there is romance in the book, there’s no more than you’ll find in say, Barry Eisler’s John Rain novels.  The major difference being of course that the protagonist is female - do we have romance in thriller novels or is that labelled “sexual tension”.

The Story
Spell Bound as mentioned is the 12th book in a series and while this book is rather self contained I do get the sense that previous actions and characters are referenced adding another layer or dimension for long time fans.

Essentially our protagonist, Savannah Levine, has lost her spell casting abilities just as she becomes hunted by a rather inept witch hunter.  This plot thread adds some dramatic tension while Armstrong hints at a larger conspiracy - Supernaturals who are organising to expose their own existence  to the mundane world.

Who has taken Savannah’s powers? We are not sure.  But it forces her both to grow up a little and to realise that she has been using her powers just to coast along.  There’s some angst on the part of Savannah over whether or not she can realise her romantic notions about the male support character Adam but this amounts to about 2 pages worth overall.

I found Savannah’s thoughts focus on romance far less annoying and more “realistic” than say Sookie Stackhouse’s. There’s a little romance, quite a bit more action and a resolution that keeps us

Being a well done first person narrative it was very easy to immerse myself in the world. I was reminded somewhat of Jim Butcher’s Dresden series, if not in tone, in the world construction. There’s no sparkly vampires here and werewolves have distinctly savage edge to their personality and organisation. There’s death and dismemberment.  I also found the pacing smooth and the investigation, the mystery to be solved drew me in.

Being somewhat of a big S skeptic in relation to paranormal claims I also enjoyed the rundown Savannah gave on show Psychics, their tricks and methods etc.

The resolution.  There’s a bit of romantic resolution at the end of the novel but if you want to find out the answer to who’s behind the conspiracy to expose Supernaturals you’ll have to get the next book.
That being said it was an enjoyable read so I wouldn’t find another dip into Armstrong's universe unpleasant.

If you like the Dresden books by Jim Butcher, this has a very similar feel to it.  Better in my opinion than Sookie Stackhouse series by Harris and more inline with Buffy culture.
This book was provided to me by the publisher at no cost.

Want to listen to my interview with Kelley?

I conducted a phone interview with Kelley when she visited Australia recently, you can download it from the Galactic Chat podcast here.

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