Nancy O'Toole's Reviews > Tales of the Otherworld

Tales of the Otherworld by Kelley Armstrong
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Apr 24, 2010

liked it
bookshelves: paranormal, short-fiction
Read from April 21 to 24, 2010 — I own a copy , read count: once

Tales of the Otherworld is the second collection of short fiction which takes place in the Otherworld universe. The first collection, Men of the Otherworld, was unique as it almost read like a novel, telling us the history of the werewolf pack, while focusing on the characters of Clay and Jeremy. Tales of the Otherworld is a little closer to what you’d expect from such a collection, delivering us the stories that couldn’t fit in the Otherworld novels. Like Men of the Otherworld, the short stories and novellas are arranged chronologically. Five are prequels to the Otherworld series, while remaining three take place during the actual series. The stories cover a wide amount of territory, giving us stories featuring major characters (such as Elena, Lucas and Clay) and characters that have so far played only supporting roles (such as Aaron, Logan, and Sean).

"Rebirth" is Aaron’s history story, telling us how he became a vampire and the first year of his vampire existence. This story is unique, as Armstrong doesn’t tend to focus on her vampire characters too much. Although there were places where I wish this story had been expanded upon a little it’s a well written short story that I enjoyed reading.

Bewitched tells us the story about how black witch Eve Levine met and fell in love with the sorcerer Kristof Nast. This novella was particularly interesting as we got to see Eve when she was just starting off, and didn’t have the fearsome reputation that she ended up with in Haunted. Bewitched is a very character based story, and I really enjoyed watching the ways that Armstrong developed the relationship with Eve and Kris. This is the second novella featuring Eve to be published in the past year (the first being the stand alone, Angelic) and I find I like this one the best.

"Birthright" features the character Logan, and shows how he discovered his werewolf heritage. "Birthright" is a relatively straightforward short story that it features a character that we don’t know too much about, although it lacks a bit in originality. Overall, it’s an enjoyable short piece.

Beginnings is probably my favorite piece of the enter collection. The novella tells how us how Elena and Clay met while Elena was still in college. It follows their relationship as it grows from friendship to love, and the ends on the event that leads to where Elena ultimately ends up in Bitten. It was particularly interesting to read this after the most recent Otherworld novel, Frostbitten, which features the same characters roughly twenty years later, but in very different emotional states. Beginnings, like Men of the Otherworld, also shows how Clay has a hard time being human, and how the results can be interpreted as awkward or rude. It also results in the relationship between Elena and Clay being somewhat unhealthy. I loved how instead of writing this off as “true love,” the novella explores this unhealthy aspect of the relationships. This is especially interesting when compared to the character of Jason, Elena’s foster brother who is more outwardly starkerish and abusive.

"Expectations" is a short story about a very young Lucas encountering Eve Levine. This story was interesting to read after Bewitched, as you get to see how Eve’s character had grown. Unfortunately, Lucas’s voice doesn’t really seem to be suited for the short story format, which occasionally marred my enjoyment of the story.

"Ghosts" is a short story taken from Jeremy’s perspective, as he reflects on his decisions at the end of Beginnings. On one hand, it’s really interesting to see Jeremy’s views, but the story doesn’t have the ability to stand well on its own. I suspect someone picking the story up without having read Beginnings would be very confused. Those who have not read Bitten, may find themselves scratching their heads as well.

"Wedding Bell Hell" is my favorite short story of the collection, and the only one that can be classified as humor. It tells the story of Paige and Lucas’s somewhat tumultuous roads to marriage. As someone who is planning on getting married in a year or two, I found this story to be equally amusing and terrifying, but was very happy that things ended well for my favorite couple of the series.

The Case of El Chupacabra is the final novella in the collection, and tells the story of Paige and Lucas trying to track down a killer known as “El Chupacabra.” What I liked about this novella is the more character based moments, such as Lucas struggling with the fact that he feels that he’s not committing enough financially to family. I also enjoyed the exploration of the prejudice against vampires in the supernatural community. What I thought was somewhat lacking was the actual mystery itself, which wasn’t necessary bad, but not nearly as engrossing as the previous novellas in the collection.

Although Tales of the Otherworld is not as consistent as Men of the Otherworld, it still delivers us a nice batch of short fiction. What I enjoy the most about the fiction displayed here is that Armstrong never seems to view the short story or novella format as a way to merely deliver cheap filler. Each story is filled with character development, or gives us a deeper view into the Otherworld universe. I hope that Armstrong will one day release a third volume in this series. I would love to see more short fiction and novellas in print.
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04/21/2010 page 130
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