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Kelley Armstrong

Kelley Armstrong fantasy author(1968- )
Kelley Armstrong is married, has three kids, and lives in rural Ontario, Canada. After graduating with a degree in psychology, she studied computer programming. Currently, she’s a full-time writer and parent. Read excerpts of her novels at Kelley Armstrong’s website. Read about her urban fantasy series for teens (Darkest Powers) at the Cloe Saunders website.

Bitten: Elena is a brat

Bitten by Kelley Armstrong

Kelley Armstrong is a very competent writer and her command of the urban fantasy genre is also really good. She knows how to manage dialogue and keep pace with both action and character development. So, Bitten, the first book of the Women of the Otherworld series, should be a great book, right?

Ok, I despised Bitten because the main character, Elena Michaels, is such a ridiculous brat that I simply couldn't stand her. Armstrong has created such a completely unbelievable character that I was happy when the book was over and the totally predictable ending brought my suffering to a close. Elena just didn't seem to fit an urban fantasy novel, but felt like the sort of paranormal romance characters that normally repel me. I just can't stand the strong-willed, independent, defiant females ... Read More

Waking the Witch: Contrived setting, but enjoyable series

Waking the Witch by Kelley Armstrong

Waking the Witch by Kelley Armstrong is a fine addition to the Women of the Otherworld series. It relays the adventures of Savannah Levine, whom we met as a precocious orphan in earlier novels and who is now a grown woman. The mystery is strong, compelling, and reasonably twisted; the plot is well paced and packed with action; and the characters and their stories are, as always, strong. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the novel.

What’s not to like? Well, to be brutally honest, while I enjoy reading the novels of Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld series, the world setting has always struck me as a bit contrived. For instance, when female witches have children with male sorcerers (protagonist Savannah is unique as the only such offspring we... Read More

Counterfeit Magic: Get a feel for Armstrong’s world

Counterfeit Magic by Kelley Armstrong

This year Subterranean Press has published several novellas written by authors who’ve been on my radar but not necessarily at the top of my To Be Read stack. These little books are a perfect introduction to such writers because they’re easy to read in a few hours and I can get the “feel” or “flavor” of the authors and their worlds without spending a lot of time engaged in a longer novel, one that may not even be the end of the story.

Kelley Armstrong’s Counterfeit Magic is a perfect example. This 140ish page story takes place in Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld setting and features some of the characters from that world. Though I haven’t read anything by Armstrong before, I had no trouble jumpin... Read More

Hidden: Armstrong packs a lot into this novella

Hidden by Kelley Armstrong

Upon receiving a review copy of Kelley Armstrong’s Hidden, I realized that I had only read a few books in her influential WOMEN OF THE OTHERWORLD series — and that the ones I had read weren’t the ones starring werewolf couple Elena and Clay. However, I had no trouble becoming engrossed in Hidden and understanding what was going on.

Elena is unusual in Armstrong’s universe; she’s the only known female werewolf. She and Clay are married and raising precocious four-year-old twins, Kate and Logan. The children show signs of potentially becoming werewolves as they mature. Elena and Clay both had troubled childhoods and have never really experienced a traditional family Christmas, and this year they’re determined to create one for the twins.

But their idyllic trip to rural ... Read More

The Reckoning: Chloe Saunders is a great YA protagonist

The Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong

While Kelley Armstrong is best known for her Women of the Otherworld series, which I have read and mostly enjoyed, I personally prefer her YA-geared Darkest Powers series. The Darkest Powers novels, which begin with The Summoning and The Awakening, detail the stories of Chloe Sanders, a girl raised in a wealthy yet non-magical home who, upon hitting puberty, discovers that she can see ghosts.

A misinterpreted incident at school leads to a diagnosis of mental illness and soon lands her in a halfway house for disturbed teens with serious psychological problems, or so she is told. She and the others at the halfway house soon realize that th... Read More

Loki’s Wolves: Lacks so many quality elements

Loki’s Wolves by K.L. Armstrong & M.A. Marr

I’m going to start this review of Loki’s Wolves, the first book in a new series entitled THE BLACKWELL PAGES, by K.L. (Kelley) Armstrong and M.A. (Melissa) Marr, by saying that there is a good chance it really is a pretty decent Middle Grade book that a number of readers that age will enjoy. Not being that age, it is kind of hard for me to tell. That hasn’t stopped me from reviewing Middle Grade books before, but the truth is, if the book had strong characterization, a vivid sense of place, an internally consistent and well-paced plot involving a nice mix of action and quiet, rich language, I didn’t have to worry about its targeted age group; it was just “good” and I assumed those younger readers would fall in line. Based on m... Read More

Omens: Original new supernatural mystery series

Omens by Kelley Armstrong

I have a confession to make. Sometimes, I cheat on the fantasy genre. That femme fatale Mystery is often the one who lures me away. This year I’ve been feeling particularly… polygenreous… and Kelley Armstrong’s Omens was just what hit the spot when I wanted to have my cake and eat it too.

The CAINSVILLE series is a departure from Armstrong’s previous work in the WOMEN OF THE OTHERWORLD books. It’s heavier on the mystery, lighter on the fantasy, and the heroine, Olivia Taylor-Jones, is more of a “normal human” than Elena and her fellow otherworldly women.

Olivia is a Chicago department-store heiress whose life seems set in its privileged but dull course, until the day she learns she was adopted. And that her birth parents are convicted serial killers. She finds out the same day the paparazzi do, and in short order, b... Read More

Visions: I boarded the wrong train

Visions by Kelley Armstrong

It always feels weird to write a DNF review for a book that’s not actually bad. There is nothing objectively wrong with Kelley Armstrong’s Visions, at least in the portion of it I finished, and it would be a perfectly fine read. For someone else. For me, it felt like I’d boarded a train that I thought was going to Albuquerque, and it turned out to be headed for Chattanooga instead. There’s nothing wrong with Chattanooga, but I’ve been there before, and I was really looking forward to that trip to Albuquerque, so I’m getting off this train in the hopes I can still catch the other one.

Visions, the second book in Armstrong’s CAINESVILLE series, begins with Olivia finding a corpse in her car, dressed to look like her. The corpse then disappears, and with Olivia’s talent for seeing omens, she’s not initially sure whether ... Read More

Lost Souls: A novella for CAINSVILLE completists

Lost Souls by Kelley Armstrong

Kelley Armstrong’s Lost Souls is that quintessential three-star book. There’s nothing wrong with it, but at the same time, it didn’t blow me away.

It’s a CAINSVILLE novella that falls between book three, Deceptions, and book four, Betrayals. If you haven’t gotten that far, you’re in for a slew of spoilers, so I would recommend waiting and reading it in sequence. At the end of Deceptions, Gabriel said something cruel to Liv, and now their friendship is on shaky ground.

That’s when Gabriel encounters a new, weird case. In an echo of an old urban legend, a spectral woman in white hitches a ride with a businessman. He imagines seducing her, she leads him astray i... Read More

Dark Screams, Volume One: A short horror anthology

Dark Screams: Volume One edited by Brian Freeman and Richard T. Chizmar

Dark Screams: Volume One is the first of at least four volumes of short horror anthologies that are projected for publication through August 2015. The books are being published as ebooks only through Random House’s digital-only genre imprint, Hydra, for a bargain price of $2.99.

Volume One starts out with one of the most popular horror writers ever: Stephen King. “Weeds” was originally published in Cavalier, a “men’s magazine,” in 1976, and has never been reprinted until now — though it did become a part of the movie “Creepshow,” with King himself playing the role of Jordy Verrill.  Jordy is the protagonist of “Weeds,” a not particularly intelligent man who farms a spread situated ... Read More

The Urban Fantasy Anthology: Not what I expected it to be

The Urban Fantasy Anthology edited by Peter S. Beagle & Joe R. Lansdale

It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of most urban fantasy. I tend to find problems with almost every urban fantasy book I’ve tried to read. When I got this book in the mail, I kind of rolled my eyes and shot it to the top of my “to be read” pile so I could get it over with fast. I didn’t expect to actually enjoy this book. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d open this anthology and think, “hot damn, this is good stuff…” but I did. I cracked open this book, started reading, and shocked myself by enjoying it.

As with every anthology, not every story will be a hit. Where The Urban Fantasy Anthology seems to differ from many other anthologies was the fact that the stories all appealed to me differently due to their plots, not due to their quality, which is the case with many other anthologies. This book is fil... Read More

Led Astray: A collection of Kelley Armstrong short stories

Led Astray: The Best of Kelley Armstrong by Kelly Armstrong

Kelley Armstrong has published several series of urban fantasy and paranormal novels, including her WOMEN OF THE OTHERWORLD contemporary fantasy series, in which werewolves, vampires, and other supernatural creatures live alongside humans, and the CAINSVILLE series, focusing on the lives in and around a town with mysterious supernatural elements. Her latest book, Led Astray, is a collection of twenty-three short stories, many of them set in the worlds created in her series, although several stories are stand-alone. This is an eclectic collection, primarily urban fantasy, but running the gamut from high fantasy to ghost stories to horror, with a few non-fantasy tales thrown in for good measure.

Some of the standout stor... Read More

Magazine Monday: Subterranean Magazine, Spring 2014

The Spring 2014 issue of Subterranean Magazine is as strong as this magazine ever is, and that’s saying a lot. Kat Howard’s story, “Hath No Fury,” stands out as a memorable work about the old gods in the modern age. It is a story about women who are victimized by men, and the women who refuse to allow those victims to go unavenged. Based loosely on the myth of Medea and Jason, the story is told in the first person by one of the Erinyes — the Furies — who in Howard’s contemporary New York are charged with avenging women murdered by husbands, boyfriends, lovers. Kaira is a close friend of Medea, who is a sort of muse to the Erinyes, guiding them when they first are changed from human to this new shape and watching over them as they fulfill their duties. Several other myths are mashed up here to create something new; so, for instance, Medea keeps bees, the Fates are old women knitting in the park, New York becomes a labyrinth that Kaira must explore, and... Read More

Magazine Monday: Fantasy Magazine, Women Destroy Fantasy

Fantasy Magazine was folded into Lightspeed Magazine in 2012, but it came out of retirement in October 2014 for the Women Destroy Fantasy issue, one of the stretch goals of a Kickstarter for an all-women edition of Lightspeed. I was one of the contributors to the Kickstarter, and, as my review last week revealed, I greatly enjoyed the Women Destroy Horror issue of Nightmare Magazine that was another stretch goal of the same Kickstarter. I’m pleased to report that the fantasy issue is just as “destructive” and enjoyable.

Cat Rambo guest-edited the new fiction for this issue of Fantasy. Her editorial remarks on the difficulty of seeing the shape of a field when you’re smack in the middle of it. You can see fine details, but the overall structure, size and scope tend to escape you. That means that sexism in genre literatu... Read More

SHORTS: Jackson, Rucker, Ochse, Armstrong

Our reviews of free and inexpensive short fiction available on the internet. For this year's Halloween week column, we offer a selection of haunted house stories. (The first story is admittedly pushing the boundaries of that classification, but it was too good to leave out.)

 

“The Man in the Woods” by Shirley Jackson (published 2014, free in The New Yorker)

Christopher, a college student, leaves school one day for reasons he can’t even articulate to himself, and walks for days through towns and fields, eventually making his way into a forest. The trees ominously press in on him, but a cat has joined him on his journey through the forest, giving him some companionship and comfort. Christopher and the cat eventually come across a stone house in the forest. He’s invited in by the two odd women... Read More

A Fantasy Medley: Wish it was longer

A Fantasy Medley edited by Yanni Kuznia

FORMAT/INFO: A Fantasy Medley is 136 pages long divided over four short stories and is published by Subterranean Press in two editions: A fully clothbound hardcover limited to 3000 copies and a numbered hardcover limited to 200 copies and signed by the authors and editor. Dust jacket by Kristy Doherty.

ANALYSIS:

1) “Zen and the Art of Vampirism” by Kelley Armstrong. “Zen and the Art of Vampirism” is an urban fantasy tale with all of the usual trimmings including a female protagonist, a contemporary setting, supernatural elements, humor, etc. The story is actually pretty interesting and follows a lesbian Japanese vampire who uses wits instead of violence to prevent two o... Read More

The New Dead: A Zombie Anthology

The New Dead: A Zombie Anthology by Christopher Golden (ed.)

FORMAT/INFO: The New Dead is 400 pages long divided over nineteen short stories. Also includes a Foreword by the editor Christopher Golden, and biographies on all of the anthology’s contributors. February 16, 2010 marks the North American Trade Paperback publication of The New Dead via St. Martin’s Griffin. Cover art provided by Per Haagensen. The UK version will be published on February 18, 2010 via Piatkus Books under the altered title: Zombie: An Anthology of the Undead. Subterranean Press is also producing a limited signed edition of The ... Read More

Subterranean: Tales of Dark Fantasy 2

Subterranean: Tales of Dark Fantasy 2 edited by William Schafer

EDITOR INFORMATION: William K. Schafer is the head editor at Subterranean Press, which was founded in 1995. Schafer’s bibliography includes Embrace the Mutation: Fiction Inspired by the Art of J.K. Potter and the first Tales of Dark Fantasy anthology.

ABOUT SUBTERRANEAN: TALES OF DARK FANTASY 2: Subterranean: Tales of Dark Fantasy — published in 2008 to widespread critical and popular acclaim — provided a unique showcase for some of our finest practitioners of dark, disturbing fiction. This much anticipated second volume more than meets the standards set by its predecessor, offering a diverse assortment of stories guaranteed to delight, unsettle, and enthrall. Volume two proper is a full 20,000 words longer than the first ... Read More

The Monster’s Corner: Stories Through Inhuman Eyes

The Monster's Corner: Stories Through Inhuman Eyes edited by Christopher Golden

FORMAT/INFO: The Monster’s Corner is 400 pages long and consists of 19 short stories. Also included is an Introduction by the editor Christopher Golden, and biographies of all of the anthology’s contributors. September 27, 2011 marks the North American Trade Paperback publication of The Monster’s Corner via St. Martin’s Griffin. The UK version will be published on the same day via Piatkus Books.

ANALYSIS: The New Dead was one of my favorite books of 2010, so when it was announced that Christopher Golden was putting together another horror-themed anthology, I couldn’t wait. Like The New Dead, The Monster’s Corn... Read More

Urban Allies: Will please many fans of urban and paranormal fantasy

Urban Allies edited by Joseph Nassise

I’m always impressed when authors work together, and in Urban Allies, editor Joseph Nassise has managed to pair up twenty authors who not only collaborate, but merge their own characters into ten brand-new and original adventures. Each story shares a similar theme: popular characters from existing series or novels meet up and must join forces in order to defeat a common threat. Since these are urban fantasy authors, every story has a supernatural or paranormal aspect, though the situations and resolutions are completely unique to each tale, ranging the gamut from a haunted house, ghosts, magic of all stripes, plenty of demons, and much more.

As a genre, urban fantasy tends to feature protagonists who embody a certain type of wish-fulfillment, depending on the author and int... Read More

More fantasy by Kelley Armstrong

Nadia Stafford — (2007-2016) Publisher: From the author of the acclaimed Women of the Otherworld series comes an exciting new heroine whose most secret identity is both lucrative… and lethal. Regulars at Nadia’s nature lodge don’t ask what she does in the off-season. And that’s a good thing. If she told them, she’d have to kill them. She’s a hit woman for a Mafia family. Tough and self-sufficient, Nadia doesn’t owe anyone any explanations. But that doesn’t mean she always works alone. One of her contacts has recruited her in the hunt for a ruthlessly efficient serial killer cutting a swath of terror across the country. The assassin is far too skilled to be an amateur — and the precision of the killings is bringing the Feds much too close to the hit man community for comfort. To put an end to the murders, Nadia will have to turn herself from predator to prey as she employs every trick she knows to find the killer. Before the killer finds her…

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsfantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsKelley Armstrong Wild Justice


Darkness Rising — (2011-2016) Urban fantasy for young adults. Publisher: Strange things are happening in Maya’s tiny Vancouver Island town. First, her friend Serena, the captain of the swim team, drowns mysteriously in the middle of a calm lake. Then, one year later, mountain lions are spotted rather frequently around Maya’s home — and her reactions to them are somewhat… unexpected. Her best friend, Daniel, has also been experiencing unexplainable premonitions about certain people and situations. It doesn’t help that the new bad boy in town, Rafe, has a dangerous secret, and he’s interested in one special part of Maya’s anatomy — her paw-print birthmark.

Kelley Armstrong Darkness Rising 1. The GatheringKelley Armstrong Darkness Rising 1. The Gathering 2. The CallingKelley Armstrong Darkness Rising 1. The Gathering 2. The Calling


Age of Legends — (2014-2016) Publisher: They hear the spirits. They must obey. In the Forest of the Dead, where the empire’s worst criminals are exiled, twin sisters Moria and Ashyn are charged with a dangerous task. For they are the Keeper and the Seeker, and each year they must quiet the enraged souls of the damned. Only this year, the souls will not be quieted. Ambushed and separated by an ancient evil, the sisters’ journey to find each other sends them far from the only home they’ve ever known. Accompanied by a stubborn imperial guard and a dashing condemned thief, the girls cross a once-empty wasteland, now filled with reawakened monsters of legend, as they travel to warn the emperor. But a terrible secret awaits them at court — one that will alter the balance of their world forever. From #1 New York Times bestselling author Kelley Armstrong comes a captivating new series that blends elements of fantasy and horror with the pulse-pounding action and romance that have earned her a devoted readership worldwide.

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Stand-alones:

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsHunting Kat — (2012) Publisher: A riveting stand-alone short story from bestselling author Kelley Armstrong. Kat is a sixteen-year-old vampire, and she’s not too happy about it. After an experiment-gone-wrong and a bullet to the heart, she now hungers for human blood, and the worst part about that is the guilt. But guilt isn’t the only thing stressing her. Kat is being hunted by the Edison Group, a dangerous Cabal that is responsible for her undead state. Kat is running out of places to hide, and she has no one to turn to–until she meets Chad and Neil. They’re on the run like she is, and they offer to help Kat against their common enemy. But the boys aren’t all that they seem, and for Kat, deciding whether to trust them may be a matter of life or death. Set in the world of Kelley Armstrong’s New York Times bestselling Darkest Powers and Darkness Rising series, “Hunting Kat” will leave you on the edge of your seat and thirsting for more.


fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsAmityville Horrible — (2012) Publisher: Jaime Vegas—spiritualist, entertainer and, unbeknownst to her audience, real-life necromancer—swore she’d never do another reality ghost show after the last fiasco. But when she’s railroaded into a charity gig, she finds herself back on the set, this time with a cast of photogenic college kids, an up-and-coming Russian spiritualist, and a tale of missing girls and murder in New England. It’s cheesy, but that’s show business. With her werewolf Alpha lover, Jeremy Danvers, along to keep her nights interesting, it’s not so bad really. Until the bloody ghosts show up. Jaime has never faced spirits like these, and no matter how hard she tries, they won’t be ignored.


fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsDead to Me, A Trio of Chilling Tales — (2012) Publisher: From NYT Bestselling author Kelley Armstrong: three twisted tales of love and relationships A Haunted House of Her Own Grisly tales and restless spirits can turn a tired old inn into a hot tourist destination. Tanya’s new B&B is said to have plenty of both. And it might be more than a marketing ploy. Originally published in Twilight Zone: 19 Original Stories. Dead to Me When a young woman’s soon-to-be-ex-husband falls down the stairs during a fight, she knows no one will believe her. So she hides his body…only to discover that he isn’t so easily silenced. Originally published in Tesseracts 13. Plan B A Nova Scotia gallery owner and his landscape artist wife discover that an affair can be murder on a marriage, and even the best laid schemes always need a plan B. Originally published in Like a Charm.


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