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REVIEW:  The Hunter and the Hunted by Kelley Armstrong

REVIEW: The Hunter and the Hunted by Kelley Armstrong

Dear Ms. Armstrong,

Bitten was one of the first urban fantasy novels I read from the current subgenre that sprung up during the last decade. I loved Elena, Clay, and the world you introduced. When you expanded the Otherworld setting beyond the werewolves, I had mixed feelings. I have a weak spot for the pack. I wanted more of them and who were these witches suddenly popping up? But I understand it was a way to keep things fresh and add variety to the world.

hunterandhuntedIt boggles my mind that the final book in the Otherworld series is releasing soon but all things must come to an end. A pity because I consider you one of my comfort reading authors. Very little draws me back to the urban fantasy genre these days but your name has always been one of them.

The Hunter and the Hunted is an ebook only special meant to whet appetites for the final Otherworld novel, Thirteen. It contains two short stories and a special extra-long preview of Thirteen itself. Of the two short stories, only one is new. The other is a reprint from an older anthology, My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding.

The first story, “Stalked,” is the reprint. It’s about Clay and Elena as they finally take a honeymoon but encounter a complication in the form of a mutt. It was on the first page that I realized I’d already read this story and had, in fact, reviewed it for Dear Author a few years ago! Reading my review from back then, I’m surprised I liked this story. The complaints I had then still hold true and they matter a lot more to me now than then apparently. Maybe my tastes have shifted or I’ve become jaded on the subgenre, but I thought “Stalked” was mediocre. It’s difficult to gauge accurately because I have read the story before and some stories don’t withstand repeated readings. C+

The other story, “Off-Duty Angel,” is a new short story about Eve. Maybe my feelings about Eve’s character cloud my judgment but I found this story pointless. Eve is bored so her lover, Kristoff, gives her a fun assignment as a distraction but inadvertently sends her on a real mission instead. Eve’s never been my favorite character so I was hoping the plot would carry me along. Unfortunately, that didn’t really happen and when I finished, I wondered why I’d even bothered spending the time to read it. It initially seemed like we were going somewhere but alas, things fizzled towards the end. I know short stories are hard to execute well in the space allotted but I wish there’d been more meat here. C-

The two short stories make up a little over half the collection. The rest of the space is devoted to a 10-chapter preview of Thirteen.

I’ll be upfront. This collection, such that it is, is meant only for diehard fans. Two 30-page short stories and a preview, no matter how long, just is not worth $1.99. Loyal fans will probably have already read “Stalked” and only the most loyal of fans will want an extended preview and be willing to pay for it. Speaking for myself, I don’t find previews that long particularly useful because by that point, I’d want the entire book in my hands and be irritated that I don’t. Some readers might be willing to pay, however, and I’m sure this is targeted towards them.

So that’s my recommendation. If you’re an ardent Kelley Armstrong fan and need to have in your possession everything she’s ever written and need an advanced preview of Thirteen, then this is for you. Everyone else, be aware that you’d essentially be paying $1.99 for only 30 pages of new material, along with another 30 pages of reprinted material. The rest of the space is basically promotion. This is not the place for new readers to begin. Both short stories are dependent on prior knowledge of events that happen in the Otherworld books.

My regards,
Jia

 

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REVIEW:  The Demon You Know by Julie Kenner

REVIEW: The Demon You Know by Julie Kenner

Dear Ms. Kenner,

When I got your recent email newsletter, I was so happy to see that there’s going to be a new book in the Kate Connor “Demon Hunting Soccer Mom” series. And to whet my appetite and get me back into this world, you also have a short novella – now available on its own -from Smashwords in lots of lovely ebook formats. Sweet!

demon-you-knowWith not a lot of room to spare, you get straight down to business in the story yet still manage to compactly introduce the main characters of the book and move the ones who aren’t central to this story conveniently out of the way before the action starts. Kate’s fourteen year old daughter Allie, who’s begun training with her mom to become a demon hunter, is supposedly off for a teenage night out at the mall before heading off to a slumber party. Only the kids have pulled a fast one on the parents and are actually at a party. Allie isn’t too sure about either the place or the slightly older guy hosting the party which, oddly, seems to be designed more for teens than twenty year olds. She does know there’s something wrong with the punch everyone’s getting drunk off of and, when the true situation shows its ugly colors, that she’s not ready to defeat the demon by herself. But how to get mom there in time to save the day?

All the hallmarks of a Kate Connor story are here – the characters, the SoCal location, 14 year old Allie trying to be a little more grown up than she actually is yet basically a good girl at heart, her friend Mindy, Mindy’s mom Laura who is Kate’s best friend and, of course, a demon hell bent on wrecking havoc. With as many of them as seem to like this lovely little town, it’s amazing that the population at large still has no idea that they’re in as much perpetual danger as they are. But with Kate to save the day, they’ve got a fighting chance for survival. Kate also somehow manages to keep the reality of what’s going on from the newspaper front pages and Facebook (“I was at a weird party last night and almost became a human sacrifice!”) As usual, I enjoyed the mother/daughter relationship, and the fact that Allie can still have her sulky, teen moments.

But mother and daughter are starting to work great together as a team – including the shared use of “weapons” – and I can’t wait for the next full length adventure. This time actually in – I hope – the catacombs of Rome. B

~Jayne

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