Book Review: Waking the Witch by Kelley Armstrong

Posted December 3, 2018 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 4 Comments

Book Review: Waking the Witch 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.

Waking the Witch by Kelley Armstrong
Series: Women of the Otherworld #11
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Published by Dutton Adult on July 27, 2010
Pages: 309
Format: eBook
Source: the library

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Also in this series: Otherworld Secrets, Otherworld Chills, "Bargain", "Recruit", "Framed", Bitten, Driven, "Forsaken"

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,, Portents, Missing, Alone in the Wild, Watcher in the Woods, Otherworld Secrets, Wherever She Goes, "The Case of the Half-Demon Spy", "Truth & Consequences", "Territorial", "Escape", "Adventurer", Otherworld Chills, A Stranger in Town, "Bargain", Hex on the Beach, "Recruit", "Checkmate", "Framed", Cursed Luck, High Jinx, Bitten, Driven, "Forsaken"

Eleventh in the Women of the Otherworld urban fantasy series revolving around a core group of friends made up of witches, sorcerers, necromancers, werewolves, vampires, and more. The focus is on Savannah Levine, going out on her first solo case.

My Take

In so many ways, Savannah learns that she should be careful what she wishes for, which we learn about, as Armstrong uses first person protagonist point-of-view to unload with Savannah’s introspection. It’s a nice bit of handling the info dump and her characterization as Savannah “thinks” about her passionate desire for her very own case and how she matured into the person she is. Very nice. There’s more thinking about what to do about how Adam sees her, and her own actions in trying to move on. A sweet few moments that end so badly. Yep. Made me cry.

The way Lucas speaks does crack me up. He’s so very precise and proper in his word usage. It impresses me that Armstrong is able to be consistent with him. Another crack up is how obtuse we humans are, always able to explain away the weird.

Armstrong yanked my chain good, with a number of the “evil” characters in Waking the Witch — a whole slew of ’em. Never thought a small town could have such a range. I did secretly plan all sorts of horrible things for ’em. It sure must be fun writing fiction, creating these various bad guys, and then getting your own back on at least some of them *laughing* I reckon it could be good therapy, as you’d have to consider a character’s perspective…hmmm…

The number of red herrings Armstrong had strewn was considerable, and she really kept me dithering over whodunnit. I sure didn’t figure it out until I get hit over the head with it.

As for that cliffhanger of an ending…dagnabit! Armstrong has left all sorts of issues dangling!

The Story

Jesse Aanes needs help with a case of a murdered woman, killed in the same way two troubled young women who were found in an abandoned warehouse. And on closer inspection, small details point to darker forces at play.

Lucas has worked with Jesse Aanes before, so Savannah knows he’s a good private investigator, er, well, half-demon PI. Besides Savannah knows she’s ready for this. She’ll prove herself to Paige, Lucas, and yes, Adam too.

Yet, as signs of supernatural activity appear at every turn, things quickly become more serious — and far more dangerous — than she realizes.

The Characters

Savannah Levine is an orphan of two incredibly gifted people: The “wicked”, dark-magic-using, half-witch, half-demon Eve Levine and the sorcerer and heir to the Nast Cabal, Kristof Nast. Which makes Savannah part-demon, part sorcerer, and part witch. Now twenty-one, she’s worked as an executive assistant and accountant — she’s all about paying the bills — at Cortez-Winterbourne Investigations for Lucas and Paige, who are also her guardians. Sean Nast is her half-brother.

Adam Vasic is an Exustio half-demon and good friends with Savannah, Paige, and Lucas. Only Savannah wants him to be more. A lot more. His father, Robert, is a respected supernatural researcher in his seventies who had a stroke a few months ago, and resigned his place on the Interracial Council to Adam.

Jesse Aanes is an Agito half-demon (telekinesis) private investigator out of Seattle. Jaime Vegas is a celebrity spiritualist, but a real necromancer. She just doesn’t really pass those ghost messages on. She’s also partnered up with Eve who functions as her spirit guide/bodyguard. Cassandra DuCharme is a four-hundred-year-old vampire. Savannah spends her summers with the Danvers werewolf pack of Elena, Clay, and Jeremy.

Columbus, Washington, is…
…struggling to stay alive. The odd Kayla Thompson is nine years old and determined to find justice for her murdered mom, Genevieve “Ginny” Thompson. Brandi Degas had been Mom’s best friend. Kayla’s grandma (Paula Thompson) insists on homeschooling Kayla after events at school. Aunt Rose is easily duped. Carol Degas is/was Brandi’s mom, who finally got religion. Pastor Williams seems like a decent man. Lissa is Kayla’s friend. Dorothy is a friend of Paula’s.

Claire Kennedy, an honors student who was quiet and straitlaced, is another victim and totally unlike the first two.

Chief Chris Bruyn isn’t particularly interested in solving these murders, nor is he interested in Savannah doing it. But he does like his job. Beth is the police receptionist (and Bruyn’s mom). Tim Bruyn is his indiscreet grandson with stupidly clueless parents.

Detective Michael Kennedy is with Dallas PD and very interested in who murdered his half-sister, Claire. Annette Kennedy is Claire’s mom.

Mel and Leslie have an abusive marriage. The no-good Bill Martin and Jacob are more locals. Lorraine is a waitress at the diner. Chuck Mulligan is a retired history teacher; he and his wife, Janice, used to run J&C Hogs. Supposedly Brody Manchester was hired for the kill. I suspect Lula’s is a gentlemen’s club. Dr Graham. Mrs Dean is the grocer. Emily Rossi is sneaking around with Rob Dean. Pickup Dude is a sleazeball. Bob Thorne reports a truck. Randy is a guard at the abandoned factory. Timothy Greer is a homeless man.

Cody Radu, an entitled brat, is married to Tiffany Baker who knows which side her bread is buttered. They have three daughters who include Taryn and baby Taylor. He was also Ginny’s boyfriend. Manny Radu is Cody’s dad who owns Radu Developments. Thompson “Tommy” Harris is Cody’s lawyer and his frat brother.

The weak Alastair Koppel, once a group home counselor and licensed therapist, runs a cult that bakes A Taste of Heaven cookies. Megan runs the place, which is intended to help women straighten out their lives and is a handy source of plentiful sex for Alastair. The girls include Dierdre, Sylvia “Vee” who goes off on some weird tangents, and Tamara who had been a close friend of Claire’s.

Tina is an accountant renting office space from Cortez-Winterbourne Investigations. Molly Craine is a dark-magic witch who lives up to the expected stereotype. Lina is a half-demon Paige once helped who will do anything for them. Leah O’Donnell is a half-demon who works as a deputy in Wisconsin (Stolen, 2).

Most are Coven witches, which means they’re too terrified to learn much more than simple defensive spells. Dr Lee is a doctor in Portland who serves the supernatural community,

The Benandanti started…
…as an actual supernatural race of Italian demon-hunters, which “evolved” into witch-hunters.

The Cover and Title

The cover is pretty with its purplish blue pavement to the teal greens making up the sky, the darker teal forming a house-like structure to the left. In the background is Savannah’s motorcycle with Savannah herself crouched, one knee to the ground in her low-cut jeans and wide brown leather belt, a cropped white tank top skimming her curves, as the signature pentagram pendant dangles from around her neck. Savannah’s long dark hair is blowing in the breeze of the coming storm, a white uneven halo behind her, causing her to stand out even more. All the text is in white from the info blurb at the very top, the author’s name immediately below it and above Savannah’s head, the title crossing Savannah’s bent legs, and the series information at the very bottom. To the left of this last, is a silver ten-pointed star with a bright green stone in its center.

The title doesn’t really make a lot of sense, as it is not Waking the Witch, but rather, the reverse.

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