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Bitten by Kelley Armstrong

Women of the Otherworld series, book 1

a review by Nalini Haynes

I read Bittenafter reading Kelley’s graphic novel Becoming and interviewing Kelley. Kelley said that the graphic novel Becoming needed to be read in the context of Bitten and other novels in The Women of the Otherworld series.

Elena lost her parents in a car accident when she was young. Growing up in a series of foster homes, Elena experienced sexual abuse. A survivor, Elena worked hard to succeed at school and go to college. When she was in college, Elena met and fell in love with Clayton (Clay), who betrayed her by deliberately biting her to turn her into a werewolf without even telling her he was a werewolf first. Bitten is set 10 years later. Elena has grown up with the pack of werewolves and struggled to come to terms with being a werewolf whilst never forgiving or coming to terms with Clay’s bite. About a year and a half before Bitten, Elena left the Pack and moved back to Toronto, where she had been studying. Elena met and moved in with Philip, a good man who pursued Elena until she made room for him in her life. However, Elena has never confided in Philip.

Jeremy, the Pack Alpha, telephoned Elena summoning her to the Pack. Humans have been killed, so Jeremy wants Elena to fulfil her role of research and ‘handler’ to investigate and deal with the deaths. Philip hears the phone message and encourages Elena to phone and return to visit her family. Eventually Elena returns to the Pack’s home, assists in the investigation and contends with Clay once more.

There are explicit sex scenes in Bitten. Well-written (no puppies sitting up here!) and conflicted. Whilst some may criticise Elena for being unfaithful to Philip, it is common for childhood victims of sexual abuse to have poor boundaries when it comes to physical

contact and sex. This added some degree of realism to the story. According to Kelley, in the next few novels in the Otherworld series Elena goes on to face her issues and to work on her relationship with Clay.

Bitten is an urban fantasy/paranormal romance with flawed central characters who don’t always make the ‘right’ choice. They then have to live with the consequences of their choices. Bitten has more depth and character than novels like Twilight but isn’t as challenging to read as, for example, The Guardian Angel’s Journal or A Song of Ice and Fire. Highly recommended for fans of urban fantasy/paranormal romance.

Originally published in Dark Matter issue 6, November 2011.  This blog has been pre-dated to reflect the date of original publication.

Nalini is an award-winning writer and artist as well as managing editor of Dark Matter Zine.


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