Tales of The Otherworld
Published 2010 547 pages
Summary (from the book jacket)
Kelley Armstrong's gripping and imaginative short stories are brought together in a fantastic new collection.
A young vampire learns the heavy price of his new existence; black witch Eve Levine meets Kristof Nast, her soul mate and her nemesis; Lucas Cortez, lawyer, sorcerer and unwilling heir to his father's Cabal, sets out on a case that will change his destiny; Paige Winterbourne discovers just how fraught a white (witch) wedding can be and Elena Michaels begins her unwitting journey to a new life – as the only female werewolf in the world…
Kelley Armstrong’s Tales of The Otherworld is a collection of short stories and novellas featuring characters from the fantasy author’s popular Otherworld series novels. This collection contains five short stories and three novellas. Two of the novellas (Beginnings and The Case of The El Chupacabra) are of a good length, at around 210 and 170 pages respectively, making this volume a substantial read.
Seven of the eight stories in Tales of The Otherworld have previously been available to download or read on Kelley Armstrong’s website. They were taken off the site a while ago in preparation for their print publication but it is possible that long-term Otherworld fans could have read most of these tales before. Even so (speaking personally here) there is a big comfort difference in reading fiction off a computer screen and reading the stories in a printed format and (for me) that made getting the printed version a must. All the author’s proceeds from the publication of Tales of The Otherworld are going to charity, which is yet another excellent reason to purchase this book – although if the words “Kelley Armstrong” and “Otherworld” aren’t enough of a selling point I don’t know what is…
Tales of The Otherworld opens with “Rebirth” the short story of Aaron’s vampire birth and his first meeting with Cassandra, an older more experienced vampire who helps Aaron make his transition from human to vampire. As a vampire fan I’ve often lamented the lack of vampire content in most of the Otherworld books but it’s also true to say that Armstrong’s vampires are perhaps the least exciting of all her fantasy creations. They lack the flashy supernatural drama of most of the vampires in horror or fantasy fiction today and always seem rather dull in comparison to the werewolves, witches, necromancers and demi-demons that they have to share page time with. However, since Rebirth features just vampires and no other supernaturals, they hold the reader’s interest with ease and fill in some of the background to the Otherworld’s vampire myth.
Up next is Bewitched, the only all new story in this collection. Bewitched is narrated in first person by black-witch Eve Levine. It is the story of how she met and eventually got romantically involved with Kristof Nast (a man who should have been her natural enemy.) This 70 page novella of dark magic, danger and doomed romance is a quick read that shouldn’t fail to delight the fans who voted for an Eve story to be included in the collection.
My personal favourite story in Tales of The Otherworld was a tie between Beginnings (a prequel to Bitten telling the story of how Clay and Elena originally met) and The Case of The El Chupacabra (a Paige and Lucas mystery.)
Beginnings is the longest story in the collection and at over two hundred pages you could argue that its just about long enough to be a book in its own right. It reads more like a character driven romance than an action driven fantasy but it fills in the details of the early days of Clay and Elena’s relationship, leading right up to the when she got bitten and turned into the world’s only female werewolf. It’s safe to say that if you have already enjoyed reading Men of The Otherworld and Bitten you don’t want to miss Beginnings either.
The Case of The El Chupacabra the other longer length novella in the collection and it is the story of Lucas and Paige’s investigation into a murder that could be the work of the mythical Chupacabra or a sloppy vampire kill. The story is a solid murder mystery featuring Cabal politics, vampires and El Chupacabra – if that doesn’t sell it to you I don’t know what will!
Tales of The Otherworld is something of a rarity in the world of short-story and novella collections – it’s a collection that contains no filler and has no weak spots. Its also truly good value reading in a world where publishers seem only too happy to re-print a few scanty short-stories in overpriced hardback editions and expect fans to happily pay over the odds for them (Charlaine Harris – A Touch of Dead) or pass off an 150 page novella as a full priced hardback novel. (Yes, Laurell K. Hamilton I’m looking at you…)
Tales of The Otherworld is a must read for established Otherworld fans as well as providing a good sampler, and an ideal starting place, for readers who are new to this series. Get it, read it, enjoy it and feel good about it because the proceeds go to charity.
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.