This review may contain spoilers.
Frostbitten explores so much more and to date, for me, is the most emotional POV with Elena as narrator. I admit, I wasn’t enamoured with Living With The Dead, so I found Frostbitten to be a welcome return to Elena. I think it’s a definite MUST buy for fans of Kelley Armstrong and if you haven’t yet read this series, I strongly urge you to do so.
Frostbitten delves deep into Elena’s insecurities: about her painful experience while in foster care, juggling pack work and raising a family at the same time. Elena is also coming to terms with Jeremy’s announcement: He has chosen her to be the future alpha of the pack!
Frostbitten is very centred on Elena and Clay, and we don’t see much of Jeremy, Nick, Antonio and the other usual suspects playing an active role. What we do see is a whole slew of new characters with their own secrets, and a new shape-shifter species that has definitely made The Otherworld that much more interesting than it already is. And it makes me think: What other supernaturals are hiding in this world that Kelley hasn’t yet shown us?
The action in this story is fast paced, and it shows off how talented Kelley Armstrong is. Kelley creates some of the best villains I have come across in books and she doesn’t disappoint in Frostbitten. There is more to the story than humans being killed and Kelley’s story-lines always expand into something deeper. Elena and Clay stumble across old pack members, from back when Jeremy first become alpha, and it turns even more sinister when they find out that mutts, who have invaded the area, are very much caught up in the middle of all the killings. While the mystery of the killings is the driving point of the book, it enables Elena to work through her strengths and weaknesses as the future alpha, and she has to think of how it will effect her family and relationship with Clay.
I have to admit, family hood has agreed with Clay and I found myself liking him very much in Frostbitten. In previous books, I couldn’t warm up to Clay with his carelessness and rudeness towards others, and his bull-headed ways when it came to Elena.
Kelley made Clay entirely ‘wolfish’ in his characteristics and that’s what I struggled with – his lack of empathy towards other people out of his pack. But, in this book he has sort of mellowed out. He actually makes the effort to pretend to care, and Clay has his own insecurities to deal with. He’s worried that he can’t protect Elena as well as he did because of his damaged arm (zombie attack from Broken) and with her being the future alpha, and Clay being older, he thinks he doesn’t have that edge to fight off the new, younger mutts who might invade their territory. So, his relationship with Elena is very much a partnership in Frostbitten, and they learn to come to some sort of an understanding on how they will make decisions regarding being a family, and Elena’s authority as pack leader in future.
I also want to mention: Previously, Elena has always struggled to forgive and forget the incident that lead to her becoming a werewolf – Clay biting her and turning her. She has always kept some sort of barrier between herself and Clay, where she rarely voices her love towards him.
There is a wonderful scene in this book, where Elena finds herself really missing Clay while he is away teaching in a university for two weeks. Elena notices how off kilter she becomes without him – especially after receiving a disturbing letter from someone in her past.
It was lovely to see that loving spontaneous relation that Elena has with Clay and it made me think how far this couple have journeyed since ‘Bitten’. They are both now older, they have a family to think about and it’s a new turning point in their lives. That’s not to say they have changed dramatically. They are still the same Elena and Clay who impulsively have hot, smoking sex whenever they can manage. **grins**
Their relationship is stronger than ever, and I believe Frostbitten cements their love even more firmly. I was so happy that there were glimpses of their twins: Logan and Kate, who made me laugh out loud with their antics.
There was, though, an aspect of the story that I struggled with.
Elena was raped while in foster care, and she receives a letter from her foster Father, apologising for his crime. Elena doesn’t know what to think of this and she feels extreme anger, and the helplessness of what she experienced becomes very real to her again as one of the mutts in Frostbitten continuously tries to rape her.
While rape seems to be appearing in numerous books in Urban Fantasy, I can understand why the intent was there in Frostbitten. Most mutts are dominant and they haven’t got the structure of the pack to stabilise them, which makes them so very dangerous. They can’t control their instincts and most of them can go crazy. As Elena is a werewolf, a female one at that which is extremely rare, I can understand why she was threatened with the force of rape numerous times by the same mutt. But, I did think it was once too many times. Though, in a strange way, it was pivotal into helping Elena conquer what happened in the past, by defeating it in the present.
Frostbitten is a very exciting read and new changes seem to arrive within each book of The Otherworld series. I’m very excited about these new characters, as I believe it’s the start of the pack expanding and perhaps paving way for future books featuring said characters? The ending of the book was wonderful, and it portrays everything that a pack should be like.
The next two books in the Otherworld series will be featuring Savannah as the narrator, and I’m eagerly awaiting to see what Kelley has in store for her.