Urban fantasy is a relatively new genre, but in my opinion one of the best, with many top class authors. The basic premise is classical fantasy characters such as wizards, vampires, witches and demons, but set in a modern landscape, without the tedium of clichéd dialogue and long descriptions of worlds that are frankly hard to picture. Instead it is a fun blend of the familiar and the supernatural. What more can you want?
Kelley Armstrong is at the forefront of this genre and Waking the Witch, her latest novel, shows her on great form. Fantasy, thriller, crime and horror, it's all here in one perfect little package...
Although I am becoming a big fan of the Urban Fantasy genre as a whole, my actual scope of authors I have read within it is quite small. As such I have only previously read one Kelley Armstrong book, Living with the Dead, so I am largely unfamiliar with the lore and characters. This was only a minor concern, and only one that really became apparent towards the end of the novel. One scene comes to mind at the tail end of the book, where a big, exciting, dramatic reveal left me only with a feeling of “huh?”.
Savannah Levine, our young, head strong lead, who also happens to be a very capable witch (or sorcerer, or possibly both, I was never quite sure) and fledging private investigator, is called into a murder case in a small town, where supernatural goings on are suspected. The story is nothing new, but Armstrong's laid back, descriptive style, coupled with believable (but for the magic) characters and twists that many other authors would be nervous to attempt, make for a cracking read.
Savannah is likeable enough, if a little forgettable, and the supporting cast are great. There were a couple of times I got confused with which guy was which, as they all seemed to want to get in Savannah's pants, but I think that is more to do with me not paying attention (I have a tendency to switch off when romance is involved, but being male and straight I'm not the exact target audience for the “Women of the Otherworld” series (title of series a clue)), than the romance being weak. What I am more interested is the tension of the story, the bursts of magic and the delightful descriptions of backwater America, which Armstrong pulls off perfectly.
I suppose the real test in a series like “Women of the Otherworld” is whether or not one book, read out of sequence, is enough to bring me back for a return visit. In this case it is certainly a yes. I have plans to read others in the series very soon and look forward to the next book eagerly.
Highly Recommended, though I suggest you read the previous books first if you can.
Order your copy of Waking the Witch from Amazon UK