Men of the Otherworld
Published 2009 369 pages
Summary (from the book jacket)
“I don't remember the first time I changed into a wolf. One night I passed out, and awoke to find my body covered in yellow fur. My brain was beyond reacting. It took this in its stride, as it had everything else in my new life. I got to my feet and went in search of food.”
As a curious and independent six-year-old, Clayton didn't resist the bite - he asked for it. But as a lone child werewolf his life is under constant threat. So when enigmatic Pack member Jeremy Danvers saves him, Clayton is determined to protect his adoptive father, no matter what the cost.
So begins this gripping collection of four tales chronicling the bloody feuds of the American Pack, and the coming of age of Clay Danvers, a very powerful - and very singular - werewolf.
Men of the Otherworld is a collection of short stories and novellas by fantasy author Kelley Armstrong. Usually the protagonists of Kelley’s books are female (such as Elena the werewolf, Jaime the necromancer, Paige the witch, and Hope the chaos-demon) but after requests from her readers she wrote some stories about the men that feature in her books. Men of the Otherworld concentrates on her werewolf characters, namely Jeremy and Clay, and they get to tell their own stories from their own points of view.
Most of the tales in Men of the Otherworld were originally available as free e-stories on the author’s website, so fans of Kelley’s books who have visited her website may have read some of them before. The author was given the chance to have the stories published and is donating her proceeds from the sale of this volume to charity (World Literacy of Canada) so even if you think you may have read them before you can still feel good about purchasing them in book form.
Men of the Otherworld starts with a short story called Infusion, set in 1946, and this is the story of Jeremy’s birth. At about 25 pages in length the tale of Jeremy’s mysterious conception works well in its short story format. Told in third person, Infusion is the perfect start to this volume and sets the scene for the tales that follow it. It might just be my strange attraction to the smell of new books (so don’t let my personal peculiarities influence you here) but originally I read this story on the website years ago however printed onto paper and bound into book form it seemed twice as good the second time round…
After Infusion the time speeds forward to 1967 and the novella Savage. Actually calling Savage a novella doesn’t do it justice. The story is over 170 pages of small print in length which makes it somewhat more weighty than usual novella offerings. Savage is the story of Clay’s childhood as a werewolf and how he became part of the American Pack. Narrated in first person by Clay it offers insight into his character and later events that occur in the full length novels.
The timeframe then jumps forward to 1972 and the second novella in the collection called Ascension. This is the story of how Jeremy came to be the Alpha werewolf of the American pack. It is again narrated in first person by Clay and at over 120 pages in length is a substantial read. Ascension follows on seamlessly from where Savage finishes, making them seem like a complete novel when read together.
The volume finishes with an all new (never before published) short story. Narrated in first person by Jeremy, Kitsunegari speeds the clock forward to 2007 where the mysteries of Jeremy’s origins are finally revealed, taking this volume of stories neatly back to where it started.
Firmly based in the werewolf world none of these tales contain vampires but it’s still impossible to pick a favourite story from the volume because they are all equally good, strong stories and there is absolutely no “filler” here.
Men of the Otherworld is everything fans of Kelley Armstrong’s Otherworld series have come to expect - imaginative fantasy and well developed characters served up with a large helping of exciting fantasy action. The prequels to Bitten shouldn’t fail to delight existing Otherworld fans and would be as good a place as any for new readers unfamiliar with the Otherworld to start.
Rated at 4.5 stars out of 5 (it loses half a star for its lack of vampires!)
LoveVampires Review Rating:
Kelley Armstrong has many original short stories and a novella about the characters and creatures from her published books on her website (just follow the Extras link to ‘Online Fiction’.) Visit Kelley’s website.