Series: Otherworld: Kate and Logan, Book 1
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Shapeshifters
Publication Date: March 19, 2020
Warning: there are spoilers in this review for the series that take place in Armstrong’s Otherworld universe.
Growing up as the twins of the werewolf Alpha, Kate and Logan expected the “supernatural teen leadership conference” they’d been forced into to be boring and political. Instead, they find themselves taking a crash course in real life leadership.
Check out the first book – Wolf’s Bane.
Hell hounds outside; hell house inside. What more could we ask for? Human skulls nailed to the ceiling, apparently.Kate, Ch. 1
This is the second book in the duology, and I absolutely adore that it reads more like 1 book split in half than two stories stuck together. It made the world flow incredibly smoothly. If you have the chance to, I highly recommend reading these books back to back as this book picks up right where Wolf’s Bane ends. The main characters and their friends remain trapped in the dark witch’s cabin, needing to figure out how to escape with their lives.
As an extreme Kelley Armstrong fan, I knew I was going to like what I read in this story. I loved getting to read about the next generation from the Women of the Otherworld series. I loved that we got to read more about the experiments that were the plots of the Darkest Powers (beginning with The Summoning – review here) and Darkness Rising (beginning with The Gathering – review here) series. While there were minor character appearances from these series, and we get to hear very briefly about the main cast from the stories, I loved getting to experience this world with different characters that we, as readers, didn’t know beforehand.
I’d recommend reading this duology after you’ve read the other books in this world. While the stories themselves stand apart, if you go into the duology blind you’re going to end up missing out on a lot of context clues and references to Armstrong’s earlier writings. It may seem like a lot of reading before getting to this duology – 13 main books in the Otherworld series, multiple companion collections, 2 trilogies with their own short stories – but I promise it’s worth it. Having those stories in your mind going into this read will make the experience much smoother.
That being said, I truly did enjoy this duology as its own thing. Already being familiar with this world, I enjoyed the new aspects that Armstrong has thrown in here. Getting to read the development of the world and how the different stories interact with each other only heightened my enjoyment of the read. The idea of a leadership camp for supernaturals is an interesting one. Though this story focuses on how that can go awry, it was interesting to see team building exercises brought towards the occult and supernatural.
Something I’ve always enjoyed about this world and Armstrong’s writing is how she takes on the divide between supernatural races. There are clear parallels in her stories to the way our own world works. Not every supernatural race gets along with each other and some of these biases run deep. For example, sorcerers and witches can recognize each other by simply making eye contact. As these races have not gotten along in centuries, it leads to much fighting upon meeting. (Though I’ll let you make the real life comparison yourself there…)
Another example is the bias that most supernatural races have against werewolves and vampires. They generally consider these races to be brutes and not as intelligent as the other races. While my anthropological background brings a lot of real world examples to mind, I’m going to once again leave it up to you to make your own connections here. It’s not that hard, is it?
On top of the blatant parallels that Armstrong does a fantastic job writing, she has a way with words that helps bring her characters to life. If you’ve been around my blog for a while you’ve probably noticed the abundance of Armstrong reviews I’ve written. If you’re new here, I highly recommend checking some of them – and her works – out for yourself. Check out some of the reviews here: Bitten; The Summoning; The Gathering; Omens; The Unquiet Past; Exit Strategy; Wolf’s Bane.
The main reason that I’ve got so many Armstrong reviews is because of how real she makes her characters. Kate and Logan truly seem like teenagers. Each has their own baggage. Each is impacted by the lives of their parents’ generation and attempting to fit into high school society. Each has their own likes and dislikes, preferences and pet peeves. They’re characters who have depth to them. They don’t merely feel like 2D characters on a page.
I went into this read knowing that I’d end up being a little biased as I read through things, as I’m in love with not only Armstrong’s writing itself but the world that this story takes place in. So, keeping that in mind, if you’d like to hear my opinion on the story keep reading. Though be warned, this review is filled with spoilers.
As much as I adore Armstrong and this story, I do feel it’s important to acknowledge that these teens were prone to angst. Coming from my hatred of this in my review of Midnight Sun, I want to bring this up to showcase how Armstrong handled this different (in my opinion).
While Stephanie Meyer used angst as a way to explain Edward’s entire personality and to try and move the plot forward, Armstrong uses angst as a secondary tool to help explain why her characters are feeling and acting the way that they do. She uses it as a background tool which seems more valid to me as a reader, given what’s going on in their lives. While it’s true that teenagers are prone to acting angsty and moody at times, this is not a trait that I would use to define their entire personalities.
If you take into consideration what Kate went through behind the scenes before the duology even started – her boyfriend pressuring her into having sex and then cheating on her when she continued to say no as is her right – it makes sense that Kate wouldn’t be feeling her best. Knowing that this ex of hers remained one of her twin’s “best friends” at school, it makes sense that Kate assumed Logan knew what he’d done and chose to ignore it. Wouldn’t you be an angsty teen if you thought the one person who was always supposed to have your back seemed to suddenly stop caring about you?
Yet Kate never let it completely take over her personality. Sure it made her draw away from Logan though he didn’t understand why. This continued to cause the gap between them to widen until they were both acting moody and sullen around each other at times. Even with that, they were still able to act like themselves around the others in their group. The angst didn’t become their defining characteristics at any point in the story.
Besides, you can’t tell me that you don’t know any adults who act way more moody and sullen than Kate and Logan do. In real life. Sometimes angst gets to people, but it shouldn’t be a person’s defining characteristic. (Have I repeated myself enough yet?)
Another thing I’d like to talk about is Armstrong’s propensity to add LGBTQ+ representation in her novels. While it’s not the best representation I’ve ever read, it’s also not the worst. I’d like to give her some credit for trying and succeeding to bring to light some topics that still remain underrepresented in media. Though I must also add a footnote to that thought by acknowledging that she’s writing about it from a straight cis female perspective and I’m reading about it from a straight cis female perspective. I’ve never experienced some of the topics that she discusses, and I don’t think that she has either. It is by research that she is able to discuss these topics with the ability she does.
What am I talking about here? A couple of things.
I truly do like the way that she handles Allan being a transgendered sorcerer. With the stigma that comes with the witch/sorcerer divide, this couldn’t have been an easy thing for Allan to deal with his entire life. It’s understandable that when he was younger Allan felt the need to break up with Kate when he was worried she’d react negatively to the truth about him. Whole this may seem like a cliche, many of the transgendered friends I have express similar sentiments about themselves. Gender and sexual expression is still not as understood or accepted as it should be in our world. I really do appreciate the representation that Armstrong places in her books and the way she attempts to normalize these (according to many) touchy subjects.
Another way I appreciate her representation is by talking about Logan’s sexual orientation. He’s sixteen in this duology so it makes sense that he’s not fully sure what his orientation is. He talks about not being sexually interested in anyone in particular and how he’s able to masturbate just like any teenage guy. He shows an interest in Mason, but isn’t sure what he wants out of it. Along with the other ways he uses to describe his sexuality, it seems to me that Logan might be demisexual.
For those of you who might not understand what it means to be demisexual, a basic definition of the term is that you need an emotional connection with someone in order to be sexually attracted to them. This is not a term that I read about much in literature, so I’m always thrilled when it’s brought up in a good way. I really like the way Armstrong writes about it in this duology as she doesn’t make Logan know everything about it in order to explain it to the reader. Logan’s a sixteen year old boy, it’s going to take time for him to get to understand what he wants out of a partner. And I appreciate that.
On the other hand, Kate’s romantic exploits are just a mess because of circumstances and her seeming inability to let others finish a sentence. Elijah tried many times to explain his behaviour in Wolf’s Bane to her, yet he’s not able to get the words out for the longest time. Kate continuously talked over him or changed the subject when he tried to explain things to her. When he was finally able to tell her that he freaked out about finding out who she and Logan are because of who his brother was and everything he’d ever been told about the Pack, I quietly cheered to myself. Misinformation can hurt, and it’s clear that the misinformation Elijah heard about the Pack and his brother’s death was traumatic to him. Here’s hoping that the Pack doesn’t end up scaring him off with how loud and intense they can be…
Looking at the plot of this story I enjoyed the way that Armstrong showcases a wider understanding of the supernatural in this world. While we’ve been able to read about interactions with some demonic presences in this world before, it was interesting to read about a demon who doesn’t just want to cause chaos. Marchosias admits to loving chaos and feeding on it, but she’s also trying to live a quiet life in her own stretch of the woods.
I can understand her desire for privacy and how a supernatural teen leadership camp would cramp her style. Trying to live a quiet life and only cause chaos some of the time has got to be difficult when supernatural neighbours move in. Especially when you’re trying to live under the radar. I greatly enjoyed it when Marchosias was willing to help the gang out when the necromancers tried sacrificing them to her. Score one for the (mostly) good guys!
Another thing I really enjoyed about Marchosias was her claim to be the creator of werewolves. She shows a definite soft spot for them and I love this as the explanation as to why. While this knowledge might have been lost over the centuries, I found it an interesting fact to be added to the lore of this world.
There’s so many other things that I could talk about in regards to this book, but I feel like I’ve rambled on long enough. I can’t wait to read whatever Armstrong creates next in this world. Whether with existing characters or new ones, I look forward to seeing where this world goes.
Related reviews by reviews published (not initially published or intended reading order):
- Bitten (Otherworld, Book 1)
- Stolen (Otherworld, Book 2)
- Dime Store Magic (Otherworld, Book 3)
- Industrial Magic (Otherworld, Book 4)
- The Summoning (Darkest Powers, Book 1)
- The Awakening (Darkest Powers, Book 2)
- The Reckoning (Darkest Powers, Book 3)
- Haunted (Otherworld, Book 5)
- The Gathering (Darkness Rising, Book 1)
- The Calling (Darkness Rising, Book 2)
- The Rising (Darkness Rising, Book 3)
- Wolf’s Bane (Otherworld: Kate and Logan, Book 1)