Just when you think you’ve gotten out, they drag you back in. Hot off the final Women of the Otherworld novel, we now dive into the first of three collections of short stories set in that universe. Let’s take a moonlit stroll through Otherworld Nights, by Kelley Armstrong.
For every fan of the women of the Otherworld who is longing for more, a suspenseful and sexy new collection of stories and novellas by Kelley Armstrong.
In Otherworld Nights, Armstrong brings together some of her favourite love matches, taking us on honeymoon with her werewolves, Elena and Clay; showing us how her vampires, Cassandra and Aaron, express their unique bond; revealing how Karl proposed to Hope; and illustrating how the young Australian werewolf, Reese, learned the dangers of infatuation, among other stories. By popular demand, shes also included her fan-favourite novella, Hidden.
As an exciting conclusion, Armstrong has written a brand-new novella that takes us beyond the end of 13 to show us what happens after Savannah and Adam save the Otherworld–and realize they do love each other. The trouble is whether they know what love really means–coupled with the little wrinkle of having to figure that out while they battle demons. The kind from hell.
Otherworld Nights contains seven short stories and one novella. Let’s take a look at them, shall we? First up is “Demonology”, a short story about how Adam Vasic’s mother discovered that her son was a half-demon. Now, that seems like an interesting concept: unlike the other races, half-demons’ human families aren’t necessarily in the know about the supernatural, so there’s a story to be told about the process of discovery when they find out. Unfortunately, “Demonology” doesn’t tell that story. It provides all the background and setup you’d expect for that story, but then abruptly cuts off before we actually see Adam’s mother receive and react to this information. Build-up to a payoff that doesn’t happen, in other words.
Next is “Twilight”, a story about Cassandra losing her urge to feed due to her old age and approaching death. And no, there is no need to comment on the unfortunate awkwardness of a story about vampires titled “Twilight”; Kelley Armstrong points it out herself in the author’s introduction. Sadly, that word has likely been ruined for the foreseeable future, at least as far as vampire stories go. In any case, the story itself is good. Despite my common complaints about how I’d prefer stories focused on a certain other vampire who was briefly introduced into the Women of the Otherworld series for one book and then forgotten (you know the one), I do like Cassandra. However, she’s really at her best when she’s playing off Savannah, such as in Thirteen; thus why I can only call this story good rather than great.
Following that is “Stalked”, a story about Elena and Clay fighting a Mutt. Which is… fine, I guess. I mean, the writing is competent enough and the pacing is decently fast, it’s just… this premise has lost its novelty. There was a whole book about Elena and Clay fighting Mutts, called Bitten. And then a whole nother book about it, called Frostbitten. And guess what they’re going to do in the novella included later in this very collection? As someone with a mind of steel once said, “there’s no need to state the obvious outcome”. There’s no suspense in Clay and Elena just fighting another random Mutt. You need to change it up a bit if you want to keep my interest.
Next up to bat is “Chivalrous”, which I did enjoy quite a bit. My only concern is that I want it to eventually get resolution. Now that it’s been set up that Reese is looking for revenge against this group of Australian werewolves, I want to read a story where he actually gets that revenge. See, I actually care, because rather than just being some random Mutt, there are personal stakes. But seeing as how there are only two short story collections left, I’m worried that it will end up like those fox-maidens who were after Jeremy: brought up once, then never resolved or even mentioned again.
“Lucifer’s Daughter”, I don’t have much to say about. Hope and Karl accidentally set loose a demon, then immediately recapture it. With a story this short, it’s hard to build up any tension before it’s suddenly over.
Now we get to the real meat of the collection, “Hidden”, which is a full novella rather than a short story. It deals with Elena and Clay struggling with the decision of whether or not to tell their young children that they might be werewolves when they grow up. Now, this is definitely an issue which the series needed to address; however, I can’t really review it without my own biases coming to the fore. Namely, as I spent quite some time addressing in my review of Greywalker #2: Poltergeist by Kat Richardson, I really hate young children. Pre-adolescent child characters, no matter how well written, can’t help but irritate me – in fact, the truer to life they’re written, the more annoying I find them. Now, it does help some that Logan and Kate behave far more maturely than any actual four-year-old children in the history of the world. Still, scenes of Elena and Clay trying to have sex and getting interrupted by their children barging into the bedroom really aren’t anything I’m interested in reading.
“From Russia With Love”, I read already, as it was included at the end of the copy of Thirteen I read. I mentioned it in my review of that book.
And finally, there’s “Vanishing Act”, which forms a neat bookend with “Demonology” in that it also rises interesting questions but doesn’t bother to explore them. Apparently, the St. Cloud Cabal have been performing some type of genetic experiments to produce supernaturals with enhanced abilities. Want to know more? Too bad, the story refuses to tell you. You’ll just have to take the book’s word for it that some type of experimentation was happening to some people somewhere for some reason. And maybe somewhere there’s an interesting story being told about it, but not here.
Ultimately, I found this collection to be weaker than the last short story collection, Tales of the Otherworld. That one at least had strong showings with “Beginnings” and “The Case of El Chupacabra”, while none of the stories in this one really leaped out to me as exceptional. Still, I wouldn’t go so far as to give it a negative recommendation: I mean, if you’ve followed the Women of the Otherworld series this far, it’s not going to do anything to make you give up on it. At least, I’m certainly not going to – not when a little birdie told me that, in the next volume, my many prayers regarding a certain character might finally be answered…
Will it live up to the hype? Be sure to tune in and find out. Nipah~!
Final Rating: 3/5