Review: Waking the Witch by Kelley Armstrong

Publisher: UK Publisher: Hachette; US Publisher: Dutton Adult
Where did you get the book: Purchased
Release date: Out now

At twenty-one, Savannah Levine-orphaned daughter of a notorious dark witch and an equally notorious cutthroat sorcerer-considers herself a full-fledged member of the otherworld. The once rebellious teen has grown into a six-foot-tall, motorcycle-riding jaw-dropper, with an impressive knowledge of and ability to perform spells. The only problem is, she’s having a hard time convincing her adoptive parents, Paige and Lucas, to take her seriously as an adult. She’s working as the research assistant at the detective agency they founded, and when they take off on a romantic vacation alone, leaving her in charge, Savannah finds herself itching for a case to call her own. (She’s also itching for Adam, her longtime friend and colleague, to see her as more than just a little girl, but that’s another matter.)

Suddenly, Savannah gets the chance she’s been waiting for: Recruited by another supernatural detective, she travels to Columbus, Washington, a small, dying town. Two troubled young women have been found in an abandoned warehouse, murdered. Now a third woman’s dead, and on closer inspection small details point to darker forces at play. Savannah feels certain she can handle the case, but with signs of supernatural activity appearing at every turn, things quickly become more serious- and far more dangerous-than she realizes.

*blurb taken from goodreads*

The Otherworld series makes me feel very sentimental as it was my first introduction to Urban Fantasy. When I had an operation back in 2008, I remember it was in recovery that I read my first Otherworld novel, Bitten. It’s because of Kelley Armstrong’s Otherworld series that I came online to find more about the series, and from there a whole new book world opened up for me when I met people who loved reading just as much as I did.

I made a hard decision back in 2010 to stop reading the series so I could glom the rest of the books when the final book was released. I knew that it would be hell waiting between books for the last book in the series, and with Savannah as the narrator, I was expecting some cliffhangers. So I’ve waited to read the last two penultimate books until the release of Thirteen next week, which is the last book in the Otherworld series. I’m excited and sad at the same time because it’s been such a journey with this series, and I know when I read Thirteen next week there’s going to be many tears shed.

Waking the Witch introduced the narrator of Savannah, who has been featured throughout the series when she was a young child. I’ve always been a fan of Eve who is sort of a anti-protagonist as she operates in the dark areas of witchcraft, and Savannah – Eve’s daughter – is a little similar to Eve but without the hard edge to her. Reading Waking the Witch I was incredibly surprised by how much I grew to love Savannah, and how vulnerable she is at times.

Savannah wants to show to Paige and Lucas that she’s a responsible adult who can handle a case, and when Paige and Lucas are on vacation, a case comes up that Savannah thinks she can handle. Jesse, another PI detective, comes to her with two murdered women in a small town. Savannah agrees to investigate but she doesn’t tell Paige or Lucas as she doesn’t want to spoil their vacation, and she wants to show that she can investigate and be responsible.

Kelley Armstrong is a master at interweaving supernatural and mystery at the same time, and in Waking the Witch she manages to pack in a tight mystery along with the emotional journey of Savannah in how she deals with humans and her diplomacy if she wants to be an investigator – rather than doing all the background research for cases. Savannah is quite the smart mouth and I loved her confidence and bite when talking to other people. She’s not all tough though as there were moments of vulnerability, especially when she was talking and interacting with the child of one of the murdered women which brought back memories of when she was a child when Eve was murdered.

There wasn’t a lot of magic involved in this book, but there were a few fighting spells and Savannah wasn’t afraid to use her magic. She wasn’t above getting satisfaction from hurting the baddies, but she always reigned it back in which shows how the love and influence Paige had on Savannah.

There was a small romantic subplot involved in Waking the Witch but it played out in a very unexpected way. You then have Adam who I adore. I love the friends to lovers trope, and I was so excited to see the simmering tension between Savannah and Adam. Adam is a lot older than Savannah, but Savannah is not a young 21 year old. She’s seen and done things that have aged her emotionally. So I can’t wait to see how it plays out with Adam and Savannah because the ending between them and how Adam treated her was so sweet.

The murder and mystery aspect of the book took me completely by surprise in how it played out. I didn’t see it coming, and for me that’s a sign of a great mystery writer when you’re left guessing right towards the end in who the murderer is. Not only was it a surprise but another surprise kept coming and I sure as hell didn’t see that coming. The ending…gah, I hate cliffhangers. This is why I make myself wait for books. It may be a long wait, but it’s oh so worth it when you can glom books one after the other.

Waking the Witch is a fantastic addition to the Otherworld series with an emotional character arc and a mystery that keeps you guessing. Savannah may become one of my favorite narrators of the series, and I can’t wait to see if a romance will play out between her and Adam.

I give Waking the Witch an A.

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

  1. Great review! You captured it perfectly. I have reviewed several of the Otherworld books on my blog as well. Can’t wait and a little sad for 13.


  2. Very nice review, thank you. I have some of her first books on my shelves, but I am afraid to start reading because she has written so many books and stories. Are some of those books possible to read as stand alones? I bought Dimestore Magic for the title.

  3. @Kendal: I’m going to be crying reading Thirteen. The Otherworld series was my first introduction to Urban Fantasy and I have so many fond memories of this series. It’s really going to be sad when it ends.

    @aurian: The Otherworld series has so many inter-connecting characters and story arcs, that I personally believe it’s best to start from book one. The narrators change throughout the series with so many different plots. I know some readers had trouble getting into Bitten which is the first book in the series, but Kelley Armstrong is so talented in her world building.

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