Book Review: Otherworld Secrets by Kelley Armstrong

August 31, 2020 Book Reviews 0

Book Review: Otherworld Secrets by Kelley Armstrong

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Otherworld Secrets by Kelley Armstrong
Series: Women of the Otherworld
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Published by Plume on January 26, 2016
Pages: 416
Format: Paperback
Source: the library

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Also by this author: Omens, Wild Justice, Sea of Shadows, Visions, The Masked Truth, City of the Lost, Forest of Ruin, Betrayals, A Darkness Absolute, Indigo, Rituals, The Unquiet Past, This Fallen Prey, Stolen, Rough Justice, Dime Store Magic, Industrial Magic, Haunted, Broken, Dark Screams: Volume Nine, No Humans Involved,, Waking the Witch, Portents, Missing, Alone in the Wild, Watcher in the Woods, Wherever She Goes

The fourth anthology in the Women of the Otherworld urban fantasy series comes with an even split of two short stories, two novelettes, and two novellas all revolving around different characters within the series.

The Series

“Life After Theft”, 10.2 with Karl and Hope
“Forbidden”, 10.3 with Morgan Walsh and Elena and Clay
“Angelic”, 9.3 with Eve and Kristof
“The Ungrateful Dead”, 8.1 with Jaime Vegas
“Zen and the Art of Vampirism”, 9.2 with Zoe
“Counterfeit Magic”, 10.4 with Paige Winterbourne and Lucas Cortez

The Stories

“Life After Theft”

This new novelette is a sweet insight into Karl and his, ahem, reformation. Yet it’s first person protagonist point-of-view from Hope’s perspective, and she can feel how much he misses the challenge of his previous career, and the latest project has him itching. However, he also loves being a dad. Don’cha wish more men felt that way?

It’s also a sad hypocrisy of a “bad guy” who is such a good guy, and another character who was raised in wealth and spoiled to death with it, who can betray at the drop of a hat, er, dog.

The Characters
The pregnant Hope Adams is an Expisco (chaos) half-demon with a direct line to other people’s chaotic thoughts and is the editor at True News. Karl Marsten, her husband, is a werewolf clotheshorse (he loves shopping), a retired international jewel thief whose reputation has always been as an honorable man, and Nita’s primary caregiver. He’s also a member of the North American Pack of which Noah is the youngest member. Nita is their daughter with a thirst for adventure. Joel Adams is Hope’s brother and Karl’s, sort of, boss at a security company. Lucifer is Hope’s father; Will is the father who raised her.

Paige Winterbourne is the head of the Interracial Council and runs a law and private investigation firm with her husband, Lucas Cortez. Benicio Cortez is Lucas’ father and CEO of the Cortez Cabal of sorcerers. Troy is one of Benicio’s bodyguards. Elena is the Alpha of the North American Pack; Clayton is her second and their Enforcer. Kate and Logan are Elena and Clay’s kids. Malcolm is a major jerk and Jeremy’s father. Vanessa Callas is dating one of the werewolves.

Gustav Nast is the former CEO of the German branch of the Nast Cabal.

Melinda, Lady Fitzwilliams, is a socialite in Philadelphia. Bradley is one of her sons. Miguel is one of her guards, and Theresa, the maid, is one of Miguel’s friends.

Fredrick Birkan is based at Lake Geneva, Switzerland, and fancies himself a collector.

Sharon Avery is a self-absorbed witch. Rhys Smith runs an agency Avery and Vanessa have worked with in the past. Ivan Price had been screwed over.

The Anatolian Hoard is supposedly cursed.

“Forbidden”

Whew, this novella was intense and just gross at the end. I know people can be pretty intense about their sports, but this one was a bit much. Definitely a “5”.

“Forbidden” is also available as a standalone. At the price, you’re better off buying Otherworld Secrets.

The Characters
Morgan Walsh, a mutt, has spent the last two years in Newfoundland, Alaska, as a wolf and does NOT want to be a fisherman. Blaine is his brother. Their father is a stubborn man.

Alpha-elect Elena Michaels and Clayton Danvers, who is her terrifying enforcer, mate, and anthropologist, are based on an estate called Stonehaven in Syracuse, New York. Kate and Logan are their five-year-old twins. Jeremy is the Alpha Elena will replace. Reese, Noah, and Nick and Antonio Sorrentino are pack members. Jaime Vegas, a celebrity necromancer, is Jeremy’s girlfriend. The Legacy is a book of Pack and werewolf history.

Paige Winterbourne is a witch and on the Interracial Council.

In Westwood, New York…
Jessica Dales is the police chief. Her officers include Wes Kent and Phil Jaggerman, the volunteer assistant coach.

Marnie is a waitress at the café that Polly owns and Hanlon’s girlfriend. Bill and Blake are bullies. Jim is the mechanic who runs the local garage. Mac. Ms Morrison is a nurse. Mr and Maria Rivera‘s son Ricky is missing. Tom Hanlon, the high school football coach, is Lacoste’s stepson. Susan was his mother and Charlie’s wife. Charlie Lacoste is a booby-trapping, predator-fixated hermit who went missing a few months ago. Michelle Woodvine has something to say. Bryan and Jason are a couple of the high school football players.

“Angelic”

This novelette contains a nasty betrayal as seen from a first person protagonist point-of-view, but Eve lightens things up with her “promise” to the Fates to shape up and be a proper angel, lol.

“Angelic” is also available as a standalone…and it is WAY cheaper to buy Otherworld Secrets.

The Characters
Eve Levine is/was a half-demon dark witch who practiced any kind of magic. She’s now an ascended angel going on missions for the Fates. She’s also Savannah‘s mother as Kris is her father. Eve’s father had been Lord Demon Balam, aa Aspicio demon and Dantalian’s older brother.

Kristof Nast had been the Nast Cabal heir and a lawyer. Now he’s a defense lawyer with a houseboat who enjoys playing hockey. Bryce is Kristof’s younger son. Kristof’s wife took off when their sons were toddlers.

The Fates are Eve’s bosses. Trsiel is a full angel and Eve’s usual partner; Marius (he’d been a gladiator) and Katsuo (a former samurai) are ascended angels, just like Eve.

Dantalian is a master of the djinn, and he’s imprisoned in a wall in Glamis castle. Eve has been cultivating him as a source. Armaros is a trusted djinn soldier. The djinn specialty is driving people insane.

Janet Douglas, the widow of the sixth Lord Glamis, is the White Lady, a residual who haunts Glamis. The Lord Glamis responsible for the skeletons in the wall had actually been a half-demon who’d angered Lord Baal.

La Ceiba is a pirate town Kris enjoys. Brianna enjoys hockey too. The Cerberi are three guardian dogs who block all points of entry to hell, a.k.a. the Great Library of Alexandria. Think Cerberus. Delphia, a.k.a. the Delphic Oracle, has a very short-term memory — it’s the only peace she can get from the memories of all times that have passed and all times that are to come. Terri Blake double-crossed Eve and was killed for it. John Salton‘s widow is also angry at Eve. Jaime Vegas is a celebrity necromancer. Tara is her assistant. Jeremy Danvers is Jaime’s boyfriend and another dual-parentage supernatural: werewolf and kogitsune, a fox maiden demi-demon.

“The Ungrateful Dead”

This short story begins with Jaime’s first rule of being a necromancer: don’t acknowledge the dead people. The real clincher is that annoying, dead frat boy. Yep, there are jerks everywhere and this kid proves it.

The first chunk of the story just makes you mad, but then Savannah has her brilliant idea, lol. Yeah, yeah, it’s nasty, but those boys SO deserve it *more laughter*.

This short story can also be found in Blood Lite.

The Characters
Jaime Vegas is a necromancer who performs on stage. Brett is her hairdresser. Tara is Jaime’s assistant. Kat is a tech. Eve Levine is an ascended angel (and half-demon dark witch) who made a deal to bodyguard Jaime from ghosts. Savannah is Eve’s daughter, a mixed-blood witch, and the ward of Paige Winterbourne, a witch who runs Cortez-Winterbourne Demon Hunters agency along with her husband, Lucas Cortez, in Portland. Adam Vasic, a fire half-demon, is one of their employees. Cass is a vampire.

Patty thinks her Uncle Mort likes her when he really prefers sister Pammy. Cousin Ken has cataracts, Aunt Amy has arthritis, and little Lulu has a lazy eye.

Threatening frat boy, a.k.a. “Chuck” who is actually Byron, insists that Jaime serve him, because he’s dead. Yep, he still doesn’t listen worth a damn. Molly Crane is a dark witch and Eve’s contact.

“Zen and the Art of Vampirism”

This short story confused the heck out of me. I wasn’t quite sure what Zoe was up to, but it did start to send me what turned out to be the right direction. And, omigod, it was too funny.

We also get Zoe’s back history and why she changed her name, introducing us to the serpent of rage that dwells within her.

I gotta say I am so not impressed with Hans and how “decent” he’s being. Excuse me…? As for Brigid…I do like Tee’s reaction to her, lol.

The Characters
Zoe Takano is a vampire thief in Toronto who’s low on cash. She was born as Kioko Takano in 1863 in Japan when she discovered why she wasn’t attracted to her fiancé. Jane Bowman was a missionary then. Tee is her roommate and a very powerful, very old, crazy necromancer.

Rudy is the bartender at Miller’s Bar and Randy’s half-brother, sharing their father’s sorcerer blood. Frank is a homeless guy. Randy Tolliver runs a medical clinic for the homeless, for which Zoe steals supplies.

José is a potential client and a vamp freak. Hans, a.k.a. John, used to be an Anne Rice fan and now he’s into Underworld. Brigid Drescher is a flaxen-haired Amazon partnered up with Hans.

“Counterfeit Magic”

Ooh, this novella is nasty. For Paige. She has to be Lucas’ representative at a Cortez Cabal meeting, and everyone but Benicio thinks she’s a brainless chick who should run everything past the hubbie.

Then there’s the murder investigation the whole office heads off on. With a man who might be angry about being pulled from college and a potential fighting career.

I have to say the bad guys played a good game here.

“Counterfeit Magic” is also available as a standalone…and if you like both “Forbidden” and this one, just get Otherworld Secrets.

The Characters
Paige Winterbourne (a witch, computer programmer, and head of the Interracial Council) and Lucas Cortez (a lawyer and sorcerer) are married and run Cortez-Winterbourne Investigations in Portland. Savannah Levine, a.k.a. Georgia, is Paige’s ward as well as her admin assistant. She’s had a crush on Adam Vasic, a fire half-demon, since she was eleven. She inherited a double dose of magic from her parents: witch blood and sorcerer with her mother’s demon blood giving her a power boost.

Benicio Cortez is Lucas’ father and CEO of the Cortez Cabal based in Miami; it’s also one of the best of the North American cabals. A family crisis three years ago has forced his illegitimate son, Lucas, to take a larger part in running the Cabal that Lucas has fought for years. Well, especially since Benicio names Lucas as his heir. Carlos is a legitimate son but his greed and amorality, combined with his incompetency, makes him useless as the heir. A Romanian shaman who didn’t disclose that he was employed by the Moreau Cabal, a French group, is just one issue.

Ava Cookson is a Tripudio, a low-level teleporting half-demon, who insists on talking to Lucas. Brody had been her half-brother, drowning in debt.

A Santa Cruz fight club truly is…
…independent of the cabals. Ethan and Shane Gallante are brothers who own the club with Shane a speed-bag boxer who teaches free after-school lessons and acts as the club enforcer and Ethan a necromancer and paramedic. Rico is a bouncer. Pete might be a bouncer too. Mel, a snotty dwarf witch, will be Georgia’s opponent on her first night. Davy Jones is a half-demon whose manager is Travis Nichols. Leo is a bit of an idiot. Dr Phillips is their medic.

Elena is a werewolf and friend. The Warners, who own a chain of fight clubs, don’t run a clean fight club. Sean Nast of the Nast Cabal, is Savannah’s half-brother who’s based in LA. Max wants Shane to fight him.

The Cover and Title

The cover is deep and dark in a blue-green woods with a blonde dressed all in leather looking back at us over her right shoulder with a rivet-laden wide bracelet on her right hand. The author’s name is just above center in a black shadowed yellow with a white info blurb just below it. A triple horizontal rule in white separates these words from the title below it also in a black-shadowed yellow. At the very bottom is the information that this is an anthology, in white.

The title is those Otherworld Secrets hidden by the participants.

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