The whole Otherworld series by Kelley Armstrong really is top quality lightweight contemporary fantasy. All of the books relate to each other yet can be read as isolated adventures with Armstrong ensuring sufficient context in the early chapters to bring new readers up to speed on the Otherworld and not frustrate die-hard lovers of her books.
** Amended to reflect that Hidden is NOT Ms Armstrongs last 'Otherworld' book!** Hoorah! I had previously reviewed saying that Ms Armstrong has said it will be the last time she writes of Elena, Clay and the cast of Otherworld... but another reader has corrected me saying that Ms Armstrong is actually writing a book '13' which will bring all of the Otherworld characters together for a big finale, and that will be published in 2012. Beyond that she hopes to write more eBooks/novellas relating to the characters in the series. Oh, I really do hope so because I'm not ready to say farewell. I want more. I want to follow Hope and Karl on their adventures. I want to pop in and see how Paige and Lucas are doing battling Cabals from within. I want to see Jamie and Jeremy's romance consummate and settle into a happy ever after. I don't want to imagine never reading of Nick clambering into bed with Elena and Clay, or being tricked by his best friends or tied up and experimented on by the twins. And I want to see the young wolves of Elena's new Pack grow. I want to watch how Elena copes with learning to lead, learning to be a mother, learning to be a true life partner to Clay. I want to see the youngsters learning from the elders - and maybe let the oldies have an adventure themselves 'Geriatrics of the Otherworld!'... but I digress.
In Hidden we find the Danvers' at Christmastime with a Christmastime adventure. Armstrong doesn't let us down with this Otherworld penultimate swansong. The plot is strong as ever. Mutts, dead bodies, curious children with instincts and directness. And a lead couple who have grown together over the series. There are nods to phases of Elena and Clay's relationship that will send fans of the series into nostalgic musings, but new readers will 'get' it because the emotional writing is so good you can relate. It's refreshing to see that Elena's confidence as an 'Alpha' in waiting hasn't done anything to mitigate all of the perfectly normal human feelings she has as a mother worrying about teaching her children about the human world and the 'otherworld'. And through it all the reader sees examples of how good both Elena and Clay are as parents. There's a wonderful scene in here of them explaining to the twins that adults who have to commit to a 15 hour work week does not equate to neglectful parenting... makes me chuckle just thinking of that. And through it all we are reminded that these two werewolves hunt rogue mutts and deal out harsh justice that is both direct and brutal. And still, the love comes through it all.
And the way these two now take on Jeremy's role of guiding and leading the new young Pack-members is so very bittersweet, cleverly written again with a nod to Clay and Nick's youth and brings me again full circle to why I don't want this world to cease being written about.
Sadly, Armstrong's YA books just aren't for me. So, it does look as though the release in 2012 will be my farewell to this author. I will keep an eye out, though, for any eNovel she does put out there in the adult supernatural world again.
I have been a Kindle user for over a year now, and have parted with most of my hardback collection. However, Kelly Armstrong's Otherworld series remains on my shelves.