Book Review: “Otherworld Chills” by Kelley Armstrong
In the final installment of the Otherworld anthology series, New York Times bestselling author Kelley Armstrong once again opens the gates to the Otherworld. This collection of rare and never-before-published novellas and short stories brings the clever wit, dark twists, and intense suspense Otherworld readers have come to expect. Favorite characters return, secrets are revealed, and several important storylines reach their conclusions.
_____________________________________________________________________________ Each of the stand-alone stories in the anthology “Otherworld Chills” by Kelley Armstrong connects to one of the characters from the previous books, some of them the secondary characters, some of them the main character of a previous novel. But each one offers additional insights, revelations and in the case of some, a conclusion to a storyline. Of the individual offerings, I have to say I liked each story. Most of them were compelling and involved a character that resonated for me, a character that I wanted to read more about. Only one of them was a story I’d read prior to this anthology, Chaotic. I can’t recall where I read the story, it might have been on Kelley Armstrong’s website but all of the rest were original and fresh for me.
“Brazen” follows Nick Sorrentino and an investigator he has hired to help him track down Malcolm Danvers, the boogeyman of the Werewolves. Vanessa Callas works for Rhys Smith and his team of supernatural mercenaries. Vanessa is supernatural herself, a half demon with Adura powers. There is some conflict between the two at the beginning but when things go south, the two must work together to track down Malcolm and survive. The characters are interesting and the conflict believable along with the solutions for all involved.
“Chaotic” is the next short story in the anthology, this time with Hope Adams, written from her viewpoint, and Karl Marsten. Hope discovers Karl during a museum gala as he is robbing the museum but the worst is yet to come as she stumbles over a dead body. Putting two and two together and getting Karl, she tracks him down only to find out he isn’t the culprit and the two of them must defeat the true murderer. I had read this story before but one of the elements I like is that Hope isn’t very infatuated with Karl nor does she fall for his good looks. She is actually rather immune, only getting along with him as they bond in friendship. This is a rare thing in paranormal stories and I like that the author resisted the urge to pair the two up. They may do so later but not in this short story.
Next up is “Amityville Horrible” starring Jaime Vegas resident necromancer and her beau, Jeremy Danvers. This story is set after the events of Jaime’s novel, “No Humans Involved” and references the events of that story so if you haven’t read it and don’t like spoilers, do be warned. Jaime is invited to perform a show spotlighting the town where the Amityville house was located. Given show business, they aren’t able to get the actual house but make due with another, finding spooky stories to bring drama to their show. Unfortunately, in a Scooby Doo like adventure, ghosts are appearing and Jaime must get to the bottom of their appearance before someone is hurt or worst. This was an interesting mystery, I didn’t guess who done it too early and I loved the Scooby Doo feel to the story. If this was what the author was trying for, it was a winner!
Up next is “Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word”. This story deals with the lingering tension between vampires Zoe Takano, told from her point of view, and Cassandra DuCharme. Cassandra needs Zoe to take over her council seat but Zoe wants something first, an apology. I won’t tell you the resolution but suffice to say, there is a mystery and the two have to work that out before working out their issues. This story was clever and stayed true to both characters, allowing you to see other layers to the Otherworld universe.
The next is “Off-Duty Angel” involving Eve Levine and her amour Kristof Nast. Set in the afterlife, where both reside when not fulfilling their duties for the Fates, Eve finds herself with time off and boredom sets in. Luckily, Kristof has a solution. This seems like a simple mystery but has a good resolution and reveals insights into the characters as well as what they’ve done since Haunted and No Humans Involved.
My personal favorite was “The Puppy Plan” which as the title suggests involves the werewolves. The main character is Logan Danvers, Elena Michaels and Clay Danvers son. He finds a puppy half dead in the snow. Attempting to prevent it from dying, he rescues it but soon realizes there are more problems as both he and his sister Kate are not allowed a puppy until they are older. He attempts to resolve the situation without bringing harm to the puppy and makes the problem worse. This is my personal favorite because of how strong a character Logan is, showing caring in attempting to help his sister, preventing the death of the puppy and cleverness in how he attempts to solve the problem. In the end, he must rely on others part of what makes the story so appealing is his ethics and his humility.
The final story in the anthology is “Baby Boom” starring Paige Winterbourne and Lucas Cortez. I admit to reading Paige’s novel before Bitten and so she is a longtime favorite of mine as well. In this story, she and Lucas must discover the mystery behind a pregnancy, why and how it happened and what to do to resolve the pregnancy itself. The characters are true to themselves and the solution well thought out.
All the stories in the anthology are entertaining, contain a mystery in one form or another and each has an appealing character. I think fans of the Otherworld series will be pleased with this final look at the characters and will end up wishing for more just like I did. Now forgive me while I re-read the series. My appetite has been whetted.
Rating: 4 stars