Waking the Witch is an urban fantasy novel by Kelley Armstrong.
Savannah is a young, powerful witch who can't resist a chance to throw her magical weight around with her first chance at a real investigation involving a triple murder. At 21 she also knows it's her first chance to prove to her guardians and bosses in the supernatural detective agency that she is mature enough to handle a case on her own.
In the quiet, run down town of Columbus three young women have been murdered over the course of a year and in mysterious circumstances. It isn't long however before Savannah is in way over he head, run off the road, stalked and haunted by a mysterious stranger and in the midst of the still very active murderer, she finds herself pitted against shamans, demons, a voodoo-inflected cult and garden-variety goons. The most difficult aspect of the investigation though is admitting that she needs help...
Waking the Witch is a great title and I am very tempted to make a joke involving the wife but best not if I want to stay in one piece. This is the first book I've read by Kelley Armstrong and I must admit to being impressed, an Urban fantasy murder mystery novel within the modern day, 21st century setting complete with Iphone using witches. It's the eleventh novel in the Women of the Otherworld series that contain stories about both Savannah and her Witch mother / Cabal Sorcerer father (both now deceased).
The plot is fairly standard detective stuff but with a very impressive cast of characters, brought vividly to life and full of the imperfections that make them all the more real. The fantasy elements are very much underplayed and it works really well, having that almost standard fiction but with a fantasy twist really gives the book an edge. I am not a big fan of the detective novel, although I have enjoyed a few in the past like Nekropolis and of course Dirk Gently but I really did bond with this book and although the pace is somewhat sedate, it's one of the books real strengths. It's like the difference between running and strolling, running gets you there really fast and is (allegedly) very good for you but a gentle walk in the country allows you to take in natures glorious vista and notice all the little details. Kelley Armstrong manages to weave an impressive back story to the town and it's people so much so you almost feel like one of the neighbours.
Savannah herself is a very likeable character - a confident and capable witch who is tempered by a very human vunerability and sensitivity, she doesn't try too hard or pretend to be someone she's not and doesn't need to masculinize herself in order to take charge of a situation. The relationship with Adam is also very touching and you really get a sense of how much they mean to each other.
Waking the Witch is an accomplished urban fantasy detective tale that focuses on the plot-driven story and characters without the need to over utilise fantasy elements or dive into slushy romance and is one of books you just can't put down. Highly reccomended.
Written on Tuesday 14th September 2010 by Antony.
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