Written by: Kelly Armstrong
Published by: Spectra
Reviewed by Ismael Manzano
Bitten is Kelly Armstrong’s debut novel and part of the Women of the Other World series. This novel follows the life of Elena Michaels, a werewolf with a troubled past and questionable ethics. The author did something interesting with her first novel in that rather than picking up the story from the point Elena was turned into a werewolf—a story that, in my opinion has been done to death—and her attempt to assimilate into the werewolf world, the author picks up the story from the opposite end. When the story begins, Elena has already been a werewolf for over tens years, and focuses on her attempt to assimilate herself back into the mortal world.
Elena Michaels has been living with her condition from over a decade and, through much trial and effort, she’s finally carved out a semi-normal life, despite her biological need to transform into a wolf, hunt and howl. She found a normal job in a normal city and a normal man to love. So of course, just when things are going great, she gets dragged back into the life she’s been trying to escape by Jeremy, Pack leader and friend. Elena returns to Stonehaven at Jeremy’s request to find her supernatural brothers are being hunted and picked apart one by one by a rival “Mutts,” and a former Pack member.
Stuck between her sense of obligation to Jeremy and her own kind, her love for her boyfriend Phillip and her desire to live a human life, Elena soon discovers that you can’t have it both ways and you can’t escape what you are. Add into the mix, Clay, her former fiancée—and consequently, the man who turned her into a werewolf—and Elena is faced with both an emotional dilemma and a physical fight for survival. Things only get worse when the Pack’s internal feud slips out into the normal world she has tried so hard to maintain, forcing her hand in choosing between either Phillip and Clay once and for all.
Sleek and sexy, this well written book was very entertaining, though not quite as suspenseful as I thought it should have been at times and gorier than I think some people can handle at other times. Armstrong does a great job at portraying the confusion in Elena’s scarred psyche, as she ping-pongs between what she her nature demands of her and what she really wants for herself.
Taking into account that the author is not, herself, a werewolf, I think her description of both the werewolf transformation and thoughts when in wolf form were highly creative in its simplicity. I found myself thinking, “Yeah, that’s exactly what a werewolf would do,” and that, to me, means that she did a superb job.
My only real problem with Bitten lies with the author’s attempt to make a very small group of werewolves appear to be a much larger and more important group than they really were. A group of six is a gang, six werewolves, maybe a coven. They are not a community or even a fraternity, and certainly not the shadow society the author seems to see them as—especially when among those six, only two even live under the same roof, let alone the same State.
Overall, Bitten is a good read and Kelly Armstrong is a writer worth following.