A review of Waking the Witch (Women of the Otherworld, #11) by Kelley Armstrong)


ONLINE SUMMARY: “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.”

MY REVIEW: I’m a little confused by some of the negative reviews Waking the Witch has received, in particular ones suggesting Savannah is weak, has no spunk and is not the kick-ass character they anticipated, boring and timid even. My not so glib response: Hunh??? I can’t help wondering what book they were reading.

Okay, this charge was leveled mainly because she doesn’t pursue girlhood crush Adam with everything she has at her disposal, with all her not-inconsiderable powers, so it‘s a side issue to the main plot. It think, though, it applies to her situation as a whole. When she says “I was his co-worker and pal and that was all I was ever going to be. Take it or leave it. I decided to take it.” I don’t call that weak or timid. I call it maturing. Doesn’t mean at some point Savannah won’t set her sights on Adam, For now, it just means she accepts that the status quo is maybe how things are supposed to be. For me, that makes her a much more attractive character than the petulant, spoiled, selfish brat she was in the first book. Her character has grown considerably: the Savannah from earlier volumes would never, ever have been willing to sacrifice herself for “the greater good” ander regard for the young girl, Kayla, exposes yet another new side of her character — compassion.

Others have also complained about the cliff-hanger ending. Again, what that involves, without any spoilers, is again a side issue to the story. The main plot, the mystery Savannah came to solve, was certainly resolved adequately enough.

One of Armstrong’s gifts is to give each of her protagonist/narrators a distinctive voice. There’s no way one could confuse the 21 year old Savannah with Paige, Elena, or any other character in the WotO universe. Or, with Savannah the child or teen. She’s smart, sassy, and a helluva lot of fun. She’s also determined to prove her capabilities, and to move out from beneath Paige’s — and maybe her mom’s — shadow. She succeeds admirably and, I think, grows as a person, too. I like almost all Armstrong’s main characters — well, the women, anyway — and Savannah is no exception. DO I like her more than Paige? Mmmm…well, yeah. She’s managed to acquire some of Paige’s good traits without being such a tight-ass. Same reason that I like Diana in Tanya Huff’s Keeper’s Chronicles more’n I do Claire.

There are plenty of other interesting characters <i>Waking the Witch</i> , too:  and, though secondary, they’re well-drawn. There are, of course, a few stereotypes, too, but even those contribute to the depth of the story.

Admittedly, this is more of a mystery than it is a supernatural novel, at least until the very end. That said, it’s a pretty satisfying mystery, and Savannah tackles it as any PI would. Her investigation seems thorough and logical, even though it’s her first solo case.
I do have one issue with Waking the Witch, however: The actual killer doesn’t even put in an appearance until the final twenty or so pages, and that feels like something of a cheat.

This, I thought, was an excellent addition to a very fine series. It was an intriguing mystery with plenty of suspense, a bit — the perfect amount, for me, anyway — of romance (not with Adam). Moreover, it was a lot of fun. Really, really a lot of fun. And, of course, it featured Armstrong’s usually proficient craftsmanship.

Highly recommended.


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