Broken (Women of the Otherworld, book 6), by Kelley Armstrong

After reviewing five of her books on Tuesdays and Thursdays, drugs I suspect that at least one of my more pattern-minded readers (OK, well, considering I think I only have two readers, who knows) has figured out that today, being Tuesday, means to expect a review of the sixth book in the Women of the Otherworld series. For those of you who are interested, Ms. Armstrong has posted several short stories and a couple of novellas set in the same Otherworld, generally in between events. They can be found here. I haven’t read all of them, but the one I did read (“Wedding Bell Hell”, regarding Paige and Lucas’s wedding) was funny.

Broken returns us to Elena Michaels’s life; she’s the only female werewolf in the world whose earlier adventures were chronicled in Bitten and Stolen. It’s two or three years on from the end of Stolen, and Elena is pregnant. Unfortunately, as the only female werewolf, being pregnant means being coddled. Naturally she hates it, and when Xavier, a teleporting half-demon with a sketchy sense of morality, asks her if there is a possibility that she can steal something for him, she jumps at it. The item in question is the mythical “From Hell” letter of Jack the Ripper, stolen out of the files of the London Police some eighty years ago. It’s located in a sorcerer’s house in Toronto.

Despite everyone’s objections, the letter gets stolen, but before they can send it off to Xavier’s client, it appears that a portal is opened to Victorian England — complete with cholera, typhoid rats, and unkillable zombies coming after Elena. Yikes!

I have a theory about this book. Since the last one (Haunted) involved serial killers as well, I postulate that Armstrong, when researching historical serial killers, found a lot of information about Jack the Ripper — but couldn’t use it since all the serial killers in book 5 needed to be female. Therefore she decided to use that information in this book. I have no proof either way; I suppose I could email her and find out, but that would take the fun out of it for me. In any case, it’s obvious that Armstrong did a fair amount of historical research regarding cholera, rats, and Jack the Ripper, but it’s all presented in a gradual way. I dislike having information dumped on my head, as anyone who’s read more than five of my reviews might know, and Armstrong doesn’t do it.

Most of the characters are repeat offenders; by now, one might guess that if Elena is involved, Clay is right there, and probably Jeremy as well. Jaime Vegas, the celebrity necromancer, shows up as well (she has a big crush on Jeremy). A few are new, but frankly, a lot of them end up dead. Zoe the vampire survives, though; she spends almost all of the book hitting on Elena.

I actually found this one of the more interesting novels in the series. Reading the book description, I thought Elena was going to be transported back in time, and to my relief, she wasn’t. Somehow Armstrong manages to make the concept of a portal in time and zombies wandering the streets of Toronto, trying to kill a pregnant werewolf, a good deal more realistic than I can make it sound in this review. That, I think, is the best thing I can say about this book. Her writing style, to readers of the series, is nothing new; the characters are nothing new; we’ve even seen Toronto through her eyes before. We haven’t seen Jack the Ripper interpreted through her vision, though, and that is definitely novel. Put a serial killer in a world of ritual sacrifices, cabal sorcerers, and dark magic, and we get danger, disaster, and death — but in a good way. 4/5 stars.

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