Review: Waking the Witch by Kelley Armstrong

Publisher: Dutton (Penguin)

Where did you get this book: Received as a free Advance Reader Copy

Release date: July 27, 2010

This review contains spoilers!

Blurb taken from authors’ official website:

The orphaned daughter of a sorcerer and a half-demon, Savannah is a terrifyingly powerful young witch who has never been able to resist the chance to throw her magical weight around. But at 21 she knows she needs to grow up and prove to her guardians, Paige and Lucas, that she can be a responsible member of their supernatural detective agency. So she jumps at the chance to fly solo, investigating the mysterious deaths of three young women in a nearby factory town as a favour to one of the agency’s associates. At first glance, the murders look garden-variety human, but on closer inspection signs point to otherworldly stakes.

Soon Savannah is in over her head. She’s run off the road and nearly killed, haunted by a mystery stalker, and freaked out when the brother of one of the dead women is murdered when he tries to investigate the crime. To complicate things, something weird is happening to her powers. Pitted against shamans, demons, a voodoo-inflected cult and garden-variety goons, Savannah has to fight to ensure her first case isn’t her last. And she also has to ask for help, perhaps the hardest lesson she’s ever had to learn.

I have to preface this review by mentioning that with an ARC, I expect there to be typos and grammar issues that will be resolved by the time the book is finally released. So, for the purpose of the review, I tried to ignore those problems. If they make it through to the printing, it would affect how much I could enjoy the book.

Having said that, I wasn’t sure how I felt about a Savannah book. She’s been around since Stolen, but for a girl with uber-supernatural-powers, she always kind of struck me as whiney. With Waking the Witch, though, I’ve become a fan. She pulls off snark and attitude like no other Otherworld character, save perhaps her mother, Eve. Even when Savannah’s fighting without her full powers, she’s throwing the spunk out there like it alone will keep her alive.  So, yeah, I’m a fan now.

The plot wasn’t very action-packed, but that didn’t slow down the read because there was always a lot going on. It started with three murders and tacked on a bunch more death as the story went on. With Savannah working her first solo case for the firm, and with human police and a human detective no less, she couldn’t exactly whip out fighting spells at every turn. But there were more than enough plotty twists to keep the reader guessing.

As a long time reader of Kelley’s work, I had a fairly good idea of who was actually bad from early on, but how they were bad wasn’t obvious. I love it when authors can surprise me, and Kelley Armstrong managed that with Waking the Witch.

The romantic subplot and backstory were woven in seamlessly. The insight into Savannah’s history let me understand why I’d seen her in such a negative light previously. It also made her sacrifice at the end of the story make a ton of sense. One of my biggest disappointments with the book, though, was that the first leg of the romantic subplot didn’t get to play out a little longer. I kept hoping there would be some supernatural divine intervention there, but alas, it didn’t happen.

I have to mention my favorite new character, Kayla. A little girl who can out-Savannah Savannah is made of win, in my opinion. From all indications, she’ll be back in the next book, Spellbound, and I can’t wait. (More Adam too, please!) That is one thing readers should be aware of. While the main plot in Waking the Witch is resolved, the book ends on a cliffhanger, and considering Spellbound isn’t slated for release until next July, it’s going to be a bit of a wait.

To be honest, I don’t care. I enjoyed the ride with Savannah enough that I’ll be begging for another ARC as soon as I find out they’re available. And if I don’t get one, I’ll be at the bookstore on release day.

Ignoring the typos and such that I hope will be fixed in the final version, I give Waking the Witch 5.0 stars.

7 thoughts on “Review: Waking the Witch by Kelley Armstrong”

  1. I’ve always like Savannah’s spunk. She’s always been a brat, but there was just something about her that I really liked. I can’t wait for the release date, and I will be at the bookstore on July 27th picking up my copy. Great review, Julie!

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  3. Thanks Julie! Though I’m still jumping to see who Savannah’s love interest is!! I’ve always loved her, and thought that time (in the Otherworld) would make her attitude into some magnificient reading.

  4. I’m not spilling on the love interest thing. Let’s just say that much like Savannah herself, it’s complicated 🙂

  5. I, too, loved Savannah’s spunk in the previous books and expected a great read because I have grown to love her and her attitude but was sadly disappointed. This must be the first of Kelly’s Otherworld books I felt crawled and did not give what we have grown to expect from her action packed supernatural stories. I certainly hope we can expect more from spellbound and more heat and chemistry from her and Adam. I’m just sayin…

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