Bitten by Kelley Armstrong
Elena Michaels didn’t know that her lover Clay was a werewolf until he bit her, changing her life for ever. Betrayed and furious, she cannot accept her transformation, and wants nothing to do with her Pack – a charismatic group of fellow werewolves who say they want to help.
But when a series of brutal murders threatens the Pack, Elena is forced to make an impossible choice. Abandon the only people who truly understand her new nature, or help them to save the lover who ruined her life, and who still wants her back at any cost.
Bitten is the first in Kelley Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld series, of which there are now eleven books in total. It is the first book written by Kelley Armstrong that I have ever read, and it’s easy to see why she is one of the most popular authors of the dark fantasy genre.
The thing that surprised me most about Bitten is the quality of Armstrong’s writing. A lot of books of this genre today admittedly aren’t the most well-written books I’ve ever read. Since Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight, vampire and werewolf books have invaded bookstores and the standard of writing has got weaker and weaker. Bitten was first published in 2001, probably a time when the standard of writing actually meant more than the latest selling craze.
Armstrong’s descriptions of Elena’s transformation into a werewolf are particularly well-written, as she goes into plenty of detail about her strong sense of smell, the way everything looks a different colour, the way human voices don’t actually make any sense to her wolf ears. It is all brilliantly well thought-out, obviously backed by some very meticulous research.
“When I look around, the world has mutated into an array of colors unknown to the human eye, blacks and browns and grays with subtle shadings that my brain still converts to blues and greens and reds. I lift my nose and inhale. With the Change, my already keen senses sharpen even more. I pick up scents of fresh asphalt and rotting tomatoes and window-pot mums and day-old sweat and a million other things, mixing together in an odour so overwhelming I cough and shake my head.”
Elena is a strong independent woman who never asked for this life. She didn’t want to become a werewolf, and she didn’t even know they existed until her boyfriend bit her, changing her life for ever. Elena is unique – she is the only female werewolf that exists, and this means that she is much more important and valuable than she ever thought possible.
Elena is forced to return to her ex-boyfriend’s Pack, when murders and werewolf attacks start happening in Pack territory. The Pack are very much a family unit – a small group of men who have become close friends and brothers to each other through their shared nature. Werewolf packs are always depicted as being very loyal to one another and this one is no different. Elena must make the decision whether to stay with them or be cast as an outsider – a mutt, and with her ex-boyfriend part of the picture, it’s not an easy decision to make.
The plot at times can be a little repetitive, and the relationship between Clay and Elena is also slightly predictable, but its Armstrong’s quality of writing that manages to pull it through and make it gripping. Armstrong has managed to create some fantastic characters who I know will continue to grow throughout the rest of the series. I am definitely going to read the second book, Stolen which continues with Elena’s journey, and her acceptance of life as a werewolf.
I would recommend this to anyone who loves dark fantasy, and who is perhaps bored of the same badly written tosh that keeps getting published these days. You’ll probably find yourself surprised at how good Kelley Armstrong actually is!