(This post contains spoilers for the previous Otherworld book, Waking the Witch, and reveals that this book doesn't really finish its story.)
Kelley Armstrong has a new book, and thus I have new blog post. Spell Bound is the second in the trilogy that began with last year's Waking the Witch and is miniseries within her overall Otherworld series. And that's becoming a problem. Spell Bound is a fine enough read as paranormal/urban fantasy goes, and it's going to please series fans like me simply by advancing the story a bit and providing little updates on all our favorite characters. But it suffers badly from middle-book and weighty-series-backstory syndromes.
At the end of Waking the Witch, the young demon-descended, Cabal-parented witch Savannah Levine (I won't even attempt to explain the backstory; read the series) had promised to give up her powers if fate would only make right what she'd messed up during the case she'd just solved. Needless to say, someone took her up on that, which actually should not have been possible. So the usually ultra-talented Savannah has no otherworldly powers, and for the first time in her life has to depend on other people for the magical muscle, which occasions all sorts of slightly-post-adolescent angst of a fairly predictable nature: I have no identity without my powers! No one will love me without my powers! I can't treat the guy I love like crap any more without my powers!
I really could let all that angst slide, especially since it's nice to check in on all the major series characters' lives and see minor ones like the delightfully misanthropic vampire Cassandra and Sean and Bryce Nast, heirs to a major sorcerous Cabal, being further developed. It also looks like she's building up to some sort of mega-event that will impact the entire Otherworld, like Marvel's Secret Wars or D.C.'s Crisis on Infinite Earths. (I'm really dating myself with those references, aren't I?) That's not necessarily a bad thing, except that after two books, we're still just finishing the setup. Waking the Witch stood nicely on its own with a discrete mystery story, but Spell Bound is all about Winter War is Coming, War is Coming, Drums in the Deep, Scary Music, and at the end of the book, well, we arrive at War Has Begun, We Must be Ready! And then it stops.
Okay, Ms. Armstrong, I'm ready. Where's the rest of the story?
Next book, apparently. Next summer.
So I'm in a bit of a bind on recommendations. It really is a decent little read, but it's not a complete story, and it leans heavily on a lot of series background that you probably don't need to have read to understand the plot, but would significantly enhance your enjoyment. I guess I'd say that there's no need to rush out to get this one. I think that it will be much more fun when the second half comes out. I trust Kelley Armstrong to carry it through to an effective ending, but it's not there yet.
Recommended only with a caution about the unfinished story.
Read for yourself: