BRIEF SYNOPSIS: In this four-story anthology, Armstrong introduces readers to the flip-side of her female-centered supernatural series showcasing the American werewolf pack through three generations of Danvers men: Malcolm, Jeremy, and Clayton.
PROS: A refreshing insight into Armstrong’s Otherworld via well-known characters who have never before narrated one of her novels.
CONS: I expected a more compelling voice from Clayton. In the other books from Elena’s point of view, Clayton practically jumps off the page. From his own point of view, not so much.
BOTTOM LINE: I found Men of the Otherworld to be a welcome addition to Armstrong’s existing series.
I started reading New York Times bestselling author Kelley Armstrong’s Otherworld series with the 2003 U.S. release of the first book, Bitten. Since I’ve been following this series for so long, the character back stories included in the Men of the Otherworld anthology are a great insight into the world of Armstrong’s werewolves. I always wondered about the details of Clayton’s turning as well as what really made Jeremy so very different from other werewolves.
The anthology — the proceeds of which all go to benefit World Literacy of Canada — is a collection of short stories Armstrong released on her web site over the years. Despite my fondness for the series, I never realized such stories were available, but am happy to know now that she has continued the practice and currently offers several other short stories that I plan to read as well.
The first and last novellas in the anthology are titled “Infusion” and “Kitsunegari,” both of which address Jeremy’s heritage. I don’t want to spoil the story for anyone, but it shouldn’t be surprising that Jeremy is not your average werewolf. Two other novellas, “Savage” and “Ascension,” depict Jeremy’s history with the pack and his rise to Alpha, all through the point of view of his adopted son, Clayton.
While all of the stories rang true to the characters in many ways, I expected Clayton’s voice to be more forceful. In the rest of the series he comes across as extremely opinionated and quite inflexible. Armstrong conveyed the inflexible aspect of Clayton’s personality well, but he surprisingly seemed a emotionally flat. The voice of Jeremy’s father Malcolm, on the other hand, was unique and compelling in his dysfunction. I very much enjoyed learning about Clayton’s origins and his motivation in wanting to become a werewolf at the early age of six. Jeremy’s adoption of Clayton definitely synced with his treatment of Elena in Bitten and his background explains why he is so patient with outsiders in ways others in the Pack are not. Also, I hope to read more on the mysterious Kitsunegari. In a vampire and werewolf saturated market, I found it appealing to find a story about paranormal beings not from the West as well as a about biracial character both in his human and supernatural aspects.
Anyone already enjoying Armstrong’s Otherworld series will find the novellas in Men of the Otherworld a welcome addition.