Monday, September 06, 2010

Frostbitten by Kelley Armstrong: A discussion

Smart, sexy, supernatural - the men and women of the Otherworld live and love, fight and die, among us. Unseen and unsuspected, this realm of witches, ghosts, and werewolves is now threatened with exposure by a brutal series of bizarre murders that has left even the supernatural world baffled - and cold with terror.

Being the world's only female werewolf has the advantages, such as having her pick of the Otherworld's most desirable males. And Elena Michaels couldn't have picked a more dangerously sexy and undyingly loyal mate than Clayton Danvers. Now their bond will be put to the ultimate test as they follow a bloody trail of gruesome slayings deep into Alaska's frozen wilderness.

There's nothing the werewolf community dislikes more than calling attention to itself. So when a pair of rogue man-eaters begins hunting humans, it's up to Elena and Clayton to track down the predators. but any illusions that their task would be simple are quickly dispelled. For even in werewolf terms, there's something very disturbing taking place in the dark Alaskan forests. A werewolf more wolf than human and more unnatural than supernatural is on the hunt - a creature whose origins seem to spring form ancient legends of the shape-shifting Wendigo. 

And if that wasn't bad enough, Clayton and Elena find themselves confronting painful ghosts from their pasts - and an issue neither of them is eager to discuss. For one of them has been chosen to become the new Pack leader, and as every wolf knows, there can only be one Alpha. They've always been equals in everything. Now, when their survival depends more than ever on perfect teamwork, will instinct allow one of them to lead... and the other to follow?
Kelly from the Written World and I realised that we were just finishing the same book at the same time, and so a joint review was born! Having said that it turned to more of a discussion than a true review! You can read the first half of the discussion at Kelly's blog. Once you have read it, come back for the second half here! Kelly's thoughts are in purple and mine are in black.


What did you think about the title?

I don’t know. It fit the book okay I guess, but lacked a little something to my mind. How about you? Again, I was watching an interview with the author and she mentioned that there were going to be some more -den titles. I think the next one is Forbidden and it seems to be something which ties the werewolf books in particular together.

I like the title in the sense that if I have never read the series before I would probably give it a second glance at the bookstore, but I am not sure what I thought about it as a title for Armstrong’s novel. I understand the book takes place in Alaska, so I guess she was trying to envision the cold! Still, I actually thought vampires when I saw the title without knowing anything about it. I suppose upon reading it you would understand, but still....

One thing that I did think wasn’t as well done as it could have been in this book was the talk about the various mythologies. Clay and Elena started exploring some of the myths like the Wendigo for example, but then that sort of got lost in the more action oriented part of the novel. Did you notice that?

Yes, I did. It didn’t really bother me, though. It might be the bookish-mood I was in, but I enjoyed the action. I had read a few books lately that were a bit detail-oriented and I was actually happy to see Elena and Clay kicking butt. From knowing you for years and reading your blog, we actually sort of seem to read the same book for different reasons, though. When I read a novel I want action, but you are a bit more happier with romance and detail than me. It’s not that I don’t like mythology and related topics, but for whatever reason I didn’t need a lot of detail this time around. I was more interested in the action. It could be because we were experiencing a heat wave and the action took place in the snow... Actually, that’s probably a lot of what it was! I want cold weather lately!

Mild **SPOILERS** coming up!

One thing I think we both wanted to talk about was the whole issue of alpha. I am happy that you included it in your notes because I wanted to address it, too. I think it shows a progressive mind when Armstrong actually believes that women have the potential to be alpha. I also read the Mercedes Thompson series by Patricia Briggs. and while I love it, the werewolves in that series are still in the ‘olden’ days when women had no power and, therefore, wolves didn’t either. I like Armstrong’s series because it gives women power, but that does not mean it is practical in animal cultures. It is more a human thing and the need for women to have a place in the world. I entirely agree with that, but do you think that a woman werewolf having the power is practical from a wolf perspective?

There are certainly going to be drawbacks, but I think that Kelley Armstrong managed to address most of those within this book, and I think maybe that is why I have come around to Clay a little more. I like the comparison that we saw between Clay’s role with Jeremy as Alpha, and also the role he would likely play if Elena becomes Alpha.

Despite Jeremy grooming Elena for the Alpha role, it would certainly mean a big shakeup, not so much within the limited group of the Pack) but certainly in the mutt world. Elena seems to be proving that she is capable of being the Alpha, but I don’t think I am quite ready to say goodbye to Jeremy as Alpha of the pack just yet, and for me, this book ended on the perfect note in relation to this particular thread of the storyline.

I don’t want to see the end of Jeremy, either! He is my favourite male werewolf!

As an aside, I really, really need to go back and read more Patricia Briggs.

And, yes, you do!

One thing we haven’t talked about yet is the other creatures that we meet in this book. Did you end up getting a clear grasp of what exactly they were, and do you think we will see them again?

I suppose we really should talk about the addition of even more supernatural ‘creatures’. One thing about them is that they are not as well-known as the other characters in Armstrong’s book. When someone says witch, werewolf, necromancer, etc, I get a relative idea of what we are dealing with. The creatures that Clay and Elena discover in Alaska is something else entirely. I understand that they might have some basis in mythology, but they are not well-known at all and I think this is the first time that Armstrong has moved out of the comfort zone. (Unless there is something I am not thinking about). I live in Canada and even though Alaska is part of the US, we are dealing with a lot of unclaimed land and it stands to reason that there are species present that we have never heard of before. I like that Armstrong touches on this subject. The fact that they have a tie to people and wolves, while still being something else, was fitting, too. What did you think of them as I essentially avoid your question?

I think that Armstrong regularly moves onto new types of paranormal creatures - vampires, demons, angels etc etc - but this did seem to be something that was more obscure than normal.

For a while during the book I wasn’t exactly sure what it was that we were dealing with. I did find the fact that they were much hardier and seemed to be more suited to the wilderness compared to being ‘city wolves’ quite interesting. And it was an interesting turn of events with Ely, the younger guy in the pack.

Yes, she is very good at working most paranormal creatures into her books. It is all so natural, too, so I am usually impressed. Everything she has talked about before, though, I had a clear picture in my mind because you find them mentioned in many other books or know them really well from Halloween costumes. This, though, I had to actually think about, but I think in the end I had a clear picture of what we were dealing with. There are many communities up north that are very sheltered from the rest of the world and it stands to reason there is a lot that could be going on that no one would know anything about unless they stumbled on it.

Overall, I think this was another really great addition to the Otherworld series. When a series goes this long, I believe this is book 10, you start to worry that it will lose something along the way. Armstrong, though, has made a series where she is also adding to it and that has kept it fresh. I think it puts less pressure on her, too, so she is able to explore things that would not be possible if the series centred around just a couple characters. I am looking forward to more from the series! Frostbitten came out last year and then this year she released Tales of the Otherworld and Waking the Witch.

I agree that this was a great entry to the series, and that Kelley Armstrong writes consistently good books. Not every author is able to maintain that strength and quality over a long series. To me, it is a sign of how good an author she is to be able to keep the series going, but also to keep changing the focus without losing that sense of series-ness, if you know what I mean!

Yes, and she was good from the very beginning. As far as I know this was where she ‘started’ and she has managed to be strong all the way. She improves, of course, but she didn’t have to really and people would still love her books. I am glad that I sporadically bought this series a couple years ago thanks to bloggers and have actually read them!

Do you think this was a standalone book though? Could someone new to the series start with this book?

You should know that’s a terrible question to ask me. ha ha! I read the first couple books, jumped a bunch, and then went back to read some of the books I skipped, and then read some of the later ones. Actually, I read Waking the Witch before this book. Reading this as a first book you would have a general idea of what the series was about, I think, but it would hopefully make someone very curious about the later books. That being said, you can skip around in this series because there are different characters in each books. I read all the werewolf books, for example, but I still have one more witch book to read earlier in the series... What do you think?

I think that you could start with this book, because there is enough background information, but I would never recommend that to anyone because reading a series in order is something I am a bit pedantic about at the best of times.

Having said that, you are right about it not being quite so important in this series because really what you need to make sure is that you have read all the werewolf books in order (and in that I would include Jaime’s book) and the all the witches books as well in order. It’s almost like there are two sub series within the one overarching series.

I was going to disagree with your last sentence, but it’s true. Even when the women are not werewolves or witches the men are. On what you said, I would include... the one that is with Karl? She has a book, too, or was that just a short story...

Hope, yes, I would include her with the werewolves as well, because it moves the werewolves story forward more than the other side.

Yes, Hope. I started to type that, but then I wasn’t sure if that was her name. Anyways, there is just so much we can talk about with this series! I think we should buddy review Armstrong’s books more often! It was a lot of fun not just talking about the book, but talking about the series in general!

It is a lot of fun! Especially chatting in real time to do it! Thanks again Kelly.

Yes, I like that we review books in real time. Although, I think that is probably why this ‘review’ is so long! ha ha! It was fun! I look forward to our next review!

This was my first read for the RIP challenge this year.

Rating 4/5

1 comment:

  1. I've read your review lightly past the point where you warned of mild spoilers (thanks!), but I agree that it's remarkable and laudable that she's maintained the quality of the series throughout: amazing! I'm definitely looking forward to this one.