Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Men of the Otherworld: A Collection of Otherworld Tales

Novellas in Collection – 3.5 out of 5
  • "Infusion," narrator Malcolm Danvers (short story, released 2005) 
  • "Savage," narrator Clayton Danvers (novella, released 2003) 
  • "Ascension," narrator Clayton Danvers (novella, released 2003) 
  • “Kitsunegari," narrator Jeremy Danvers (novella, published 2009 in Men of the Otherworld)

Author:   Kelley Armstrong 
Narrator:    Charles Leggett - 3 out of 5
Length:   11:08 hours, purchased on audible 
Among the humans live werewolves.  Men only, who are born with the gene that manifests after puberty.  They exist under the radar, living longer than humans, their aging slowed by the werewolf gene. Their society is loosely policed by the American pack – a singular, barely functional group that is dedicated to keeping the existence of werewolves a secret by killing all mutts (non-pack werewolves) whom they happen to cross.

In the 1940’s, Malcolm, a werewolf, is seduced by a strange Asian woman who gets pregnant after one night and runs away with their son, Jeremy.  The son is a wolf, but not completely.  Unlike Malcolm, he is quiet, almost a pacifist, and Malcolm can’t seem to beat the werewolf back into his boy.  But Jeremy sees the bigger picture when, for the first time, a young boy turned werewolf is discovered by the pack living by himself, abandoned in the Bayou of Louisiana.  Clayton was seven, or so about, when Jeremy found him living in the swamp, socialized him, and took him home to upstate New York. Clayton survives as the only child werewolf, growing into a passable human, and takes Jeremy’s side as father and son clash over who will take over the American pack.   
On Narration:
This audiobook is read by Charles LeggettI haven’t listened to his narration before, but he’s very competent with the voices, which are almost exclusively male in this collection.  His Cajun accent seems alright, but I’m not very familiar with the way it’s supposed to sound.  His general reading is sincere and believable. My only criticism is that I had a hard time between the external and internal dialogue from Clayton’s point of view. For example, when Jeremy takes Clayton to the airport, Clayton recognizes a plane, but I did not realize he said it out loud until Jeremy responded.  Kind of makes you wonder how much of the internal dialogue was really internal.
Domestication of Wolves to Men:
There are spoilers in this Review.  If you have already listened to this audiobook, read the book, or hate surprises, please click below:

There are three parts to this collection.  The first starts with a third-person narration of how Malcolm met Jeremy’s mother.  It reminds me of Bitten, the first Women of the Otherworld books in that it’s rather brutal and very reflective.  The listener doesn’t empathize with any character in this part of the collection, but the story line is interesting. 

The best part of the collection was definitely the second – Clayton’s story told from his point of view.  It’s very engaging.  As hard it as it is to empathize with Malcolm is how smooth it is to slip into Clayton’s story. At the point where Clayton fears Jeremy will abandon him in the Bayou, I logically understood that the fear was unfounded because of the way it was written (and because I’ve listened to the whole series), and I still got teary-eyed. Oh, and it’s humorous, like when Clayton first observes Jeremy talking on a cellphone but he forgot what cellphones are, so he assumed Jeremy liked talking to plastic, and that’s fine. Jeremy likes to talk to plastic, Clayton likes to catch and eat the rats that run into the hotel room. “We all have our eccentricities.” That humor continues to Stonehaven in New York, when Jeremy enrolls Clayton in public school. There is a lovely double entendre where the kindergarten school teacher notices the Clayton is interested in the class’s rodent farm and, at a parent-teacher night, suggests Jeremy get Clatyon a pet.  She says something like, “My friend’s cat just had kittens. Would you like that, Clayton? Would you like a kitten?” and Clayton, the constantly starving, mostly feral werewolf child replies, “Yes. Yes, I would love a kitten.”

The third part is Jeremy’s discovery of his mother’s people.  Even though the cover of the collection hints at sex, and man-on-man at that, this is actually the only section that has it, and really only hints at it at that.  If you’ve listened to the Women of the Otherworld series, you know there’s plenty of graphic adult scenes.  The closest we get is the relationship between Jeremy and Jaime, which is nice, but not quiet as explosive as Clayton and Elena’s relationship in the series.  This is actually the part I missed most about the collection – not the sex, but the relationship between Clayton and Elena from Clayton’s perspective.  If you’re familiar with the series, Clayton turned Elena basically against her will.  The more we know of Clayton throughout the series, including in this collection, the less that particular moment makes sense.  I was hoping to get that moment from Clayton’s perspective, but that’s not in the story.

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