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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Review and GIVEAWAY: Spell Bound by Kelley Armstrong!

Spell Bound (Otherworld, Book 12)Title: Spell Bound
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Publisher: Dutton
Page Count: 353 pages
Genre: urban fantasy
Copy for review provided by Wunderkind PR in anticipation of an honest review

Synopsis: It's been ten years since Bitten, the first novel in Kelley Armstrong's New York Times bestselling Otherworld series. In that time hundreds of thousands of fans have ravenously devoured the adventures of Armstrong's witches, demons, and werewolves. Now, in Spell Bound, she brings them all together for her most sweeping tale yet. 

Savannah Levine is in terrible danger, and for once she's powerless to help herself. At the heartbreaking conclusion of Waking the Witch, Savannah swore that she would give up her powers if it would prevent further pain for a young orphan. Little did she know that someone would take her up on that promise. 

And now, witch-hunting assassins, necromancers, half-demons, and rogue witches all seem to be after her. The threat is not just for Savannah; every member of the Otherworld might be at risk. While most of her fellow supernaturals are circling the wagons at a gathering of the council in Miami, Savannah is caught on the road, isolated from those who can protect her and unable to use her vast spell-casting talent, the thing she counts on most. In a story that will change the shape of the Otherworld forever, Armstrong gathers Elena, Clay, Paige, Lucas, Jamie, Hope, and other beloved characters, who soon learn that the greatest threat to supernaturals just may come from within.

Almost a year ago I reviewed the previous book in the Otherworld series, Waking the Witch, which was fairly well received by me, but left me wondering just what the deal with Savannah actually was.  Having not made any further progress in reading the series prior to starting Spell Bound (meaning I've still only read Bitten and Waking the Witch) it was up to this book to kind of clear the air for me and show me the way forward, especially knowing that this is the penultimate book in the series- have I mentioned how much I love using that word?

Moving forward, the story of Spell Bound is kind of like a set of interlocking circles, each dealing with a different element, but connected to the others.  What happened to Savannah's powers, and can she get them back?  What's up with the sect of folks that think the supernaturals should be out in the open and what does that mean for everyone else in the Otherworld?  Does Adam like like Savannah or does he just want to be friends?  Probably most importantly, what kind of person does Savannah truly want to be, and what role does she want to play in the lives of those she loves?

Overall this was a good book, but again, I think not having read the previous installments in the series might be holding me back from diving into the crowd of I-love-it-and-I-can't-live-without-it.   For me, that's an issue; if I'm going to shell out the money for a hardback book or a correspondingly priced Kindle copy, it needs to be good and stand on its own merit, and not be a gateway into needing to read the rest of the series to get the full effect.

The story involving the plot to expose the supernaturals and the drive to find out what the deal is with the war that's been foreseen is excellent, and had the book been exclusively about that with the side plots trimmed away I would have been a happy camper.  As it is, this story is the meat and potatoes of the book and has to do its work and build excitement for the final chapter while pulling along some other story lines that didn't work as well for me as a reader.

I hate to say it, but I would have been happier and more satisfied if there had not been a romance subplot in this book.  I'll go on record here, and I very well may have to reverse this statement when the final book comes out, but I don't buy into Savannah and Adam as a couple.  There are too many issues that nobody wants to work through, and maybe nobody should have to work through them. Nobody wants to make a move; everybody needs to change in order for them to have a shot together.  Folks, that is a miracle I am not willing to believe in.  Savannah is 22 years old and is shouldering a tremendous amount of responsibility, surrounded by people who, even out of love, are full of lectures and advice on how she should go about being a perfect person that will meet everyone's needs.  She needs to do this.  She needs to do that. She should say this.  She should stop saying that.  Does Savannah have some growing up to do? Sure.  Is she some kind of mutant that is incapable of doing anything successfully and needs a babysitter full time? No.  There are plenty of other characters that are willing to be her moral compass, but nobody wants to let her do the thing that helps a person develop a moral compass of their own: make mistakes. And if Adam observes all of this and decides to keep his feelings bottled up inside then you know what? That's his problem.  It's not up to Savannah to change to make someone else happy any more than it would be up to him to change.  Meet in the middle or don't meet there at all.

It's funny that I can totally suspend my disbelief and allow myself as a reader to enter a world populated by vampires and werewolves and demons and witches but these two bumbling around in the relationship department leaves me scratching my head, isn't it?  To be fair, this is a relatively small part of the book, but it's a big issue that needs to be resolved.  I'm not even sure a happily ever after would satisfy me at this point because I would wonder how the heck we got there from here.

The best thing about this book was the sense of other things rumbling just below the surface, like we haven't really seen all there is to see yet.  We get some glimpses of what's to come- the creepy hospital, the kidnappings, the murmers of war and the need for warriors and heroes, but they're all whispers at this point and haven't erupted into a full-on conflict.  The evolution of that story element will definitely be something to read.

Hopes for the final book: resolve the relationship drama first thing, and leave the rest of the book to kicking ass and taking names.  At this point, that's truly what I want.

Overall Grade: B

Thanks to the fine folks at Wunderkind PR I have a finished copy of Spell Bound to give away to one lucky person here at What Book is That?!  To enter, just leave a comment with a way to contact you.  No contact information = no entry, so remember!  Here are a few other details:
-U.S. and Canada only please, thanks!
-Giveaway ends Wednesday, August 10th at 11:59 PM EST
-As always, you don't need to be a follower to enter or win, but I'd love it if you were!  Check out my complete giveaway policy at the top of the page for complete rules and whatnot.

That's the story- enter away!
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