"Columbus is a small, fading town, untouched by the twenty-first century. But when three young women are found dead - victims of what appear to be ritual murders - things start to get very dark, and very dangerous...
Private investigator Savannah Levine can handle 'dark and dangerous'. As the daughter of a black witch, she has a lot of power running through her veins, and she's not afraid to use it. But her arrival in Columbus has not gone unnoticed. Savannah may think she's tracking down a murderer, but could she be the killer's next target?
Of course, she could always ask her old friend (and half-demon) Adam Vasic for back-up. But Savannah has her own - very personal - reasons for keeping Adam well away from Columbus. And in any case, she can rely on her own powers. Can't she...?"
This is the 11th book in The Otherworld series by Kelley Armstrong. Overall I love this series and it's one of my favourites, but I don't love every narrator. This is the first book told by Savannah and I was looking forward to it. She first appeared in book #2, Stolen, as a 12 or 13 year old witch who's mom had just been murdered. Since then she's appeared on and off as a side character, but now at 21 she's getting her first book. She's always been sassy, smart, determined and just a little dangerous, and I've always liked her, even when she was being a brat. So I figured there was a good chance I'd enjoy her story and I was looking forward to getting to know her better. Turns out, I really love her. This is one of the best Otherworld books of the series to date. For me, it's second only to book #1 Bitten, and possible book #10 Frostbitten, both told by my favourite narrator, Elena.
Savannah's story sucked me in right from the start. She's still the sassy, smart girl she's always been, and hungry to prove herself. Now she wants to take on a case solo and with Paige and Lucas (the people who raised her after her mother's death and also her bosses) on vacation and her associate (and long time crush) Adam away at a conference, now seems like the prefect time. In steps Jesse, a young PI who's worked with Lucas before, and is now looking for some help on a triple homicide case with apparent ritualistic aspects of the supernatural variety. Savannah jumps at the chance and heads to small town Columbus to see if she can solve the case. But it doesn't take long before she's making enemies and with a distinct supernatural possibility Savannah soon realises she may be next on the killers hit list.
All those traits that made her a loud mouth some times bratty kid, she uses to great advantage to work the people she needs information from. She can be brutally honest, but she's also happy to spin some pretty big tales when required. Savannah is a girl who hates to be seen as weak or vulnerable, she won't let it happen, but that doesn't mean she doesn't get scared. And it doesn't mean she doesn't have a softer side, something we've rarely seen until now. I loved getting deeper in to her head and figuring out how she works, how she thinks. She has to make some hard decisions and learns some tough lessons through this book which took their toll on her, maybe more so than we get to see here.
It was also fun getting to know Adam a little better through the eyes of someone who wants a lot more than friendship from him. But he's no the only guy who has Savannah's attention here. There is also Dallas Detective Michael Kennedy. He's the older brother of one of the victims and he arrives in Columbus at the same time as Savannah, hoping to solve the case as well. I loved the way they played off each other, particularly as Savannah's quite often shown great disregard for humans.
The story flows really well, mixing a little police procedural with witchcraft, and throws a few big shocks in along the way. I had a really hard time putting it down. Savannah is a great character to get to know, but like previous books, Kelley does a great job of creating secondary characters to love, or loathe, as well. Another plus point to this book is seeing Savannah's thoughts on some incidents that happened several books ago. She's played some big roles in the series before, despite this being the first book from her perspective, and learning how she's felt and dealt with some of those things adds something to it. There were some surprisingly intense and emotional moments in this book as well, and my heart went out to Savannah on more than one occasion. She's someone who uses a lot of her spunk to cover some pretty big issues at times, more so than I'd first have guessed.
This book has a few firsts for the series in it, but one of the most surprising ones is the ending. It was a great build up and left things completely hanging. None of the previous books have had a cliff hanger ending, but this one sure does! It's very well done and I love it as much as I hate it. The shock and surprise was felt and I'm gutted to have to wait til July next year for book #12, Spell Bound, which is also narrated (thankfully!) by Savannah.
I said it already, but I will repeat myself. This is one of the best Otherworld books to date. Kelley continues to weave great stories with great characters to keep this series fresh. With a series this long it's like settling down with an old friend for a catch up, but there is plenty of new things to keep it really interesting. If you're a fan of the Otherworld books, this is one not to be skipped! If you've yet to try them, I strongly recommend starting with book 1, Bitten, although it's not strictly needed. There is enough explanation given that you don't miss anything big with each new book, only small things, and it doesn't overload readers who've read all the previous books with repeated info. Just enough of a refresher of the most important aspects. A really great read, and I'm very excited for more books from Savannah's point of view.