Kelley Armstrong: Bitten (2001) A Werewolf Thriller

Elena, heroine of Kelley Armstrong’s impressive debut thriller Bitten, never planned that a casual sexual encounter would transform her into a werewolf. Neither did Clay, her lover and one of the leaders of the exclusive werewolf clique known as the Pack; women do not generally change or survive if they do. Elena’s considerable reservations about her new life come to a head and she walks out on the Pack to return to something like normality, finding herself a boyfriend who turns a blind eye to her occasional disappearances in the middle of the night. She may have done with the infighting of werewolves, but they have not done with her; her former family call her back when they find themselves under threat from those they have excluded and dominated. Kelley Armstrong is very good on the sheer exhilaration of shape-changing, of running on four feet through forests, suburban greenery and urban back alleys; if there is a weakness here, it is that Elena’s relationship with the taciturn, untrustworthy Clay is sometimes a little too conventionally romantic–but the dark poetry of the best of the book overcomes this entirely.

I must admit if it hadn’t been for Kailana I would never have read Kelley Armstrong’s Bitten but some of her reviews of the Women of the Otherworld series were so enthusiastic, I simply had to try it.  And to be honest “A werewolf thriller” sounded somewhat intriguing. I was not disappointed. Besides, my late grandmother being from Brittany, I grew up with werewolf tales and did belive them until my late teens. But this is not the reason why I liked it. I liked it because I could identify with the heroine. She is such a realistically drawn person. A strong woman who grew up in foster homes, looking for a family, a home, security but never seems to get it. The years alone have hardened her. But then she meets Clay. Beautiful, intelligent, mysterious Clay who offers her everything she never had. Who even goes to a lot of pain to offer her her first proper Christmas and who takes her to Stonehaven, the home of his family, Jeremy, Antony, Nick, Logan and the others. And then the unthinkable happens. He bites her. The only secret he has kept from her, that he is a werewolf, is a fatal one. Normally no one survives a werewolf bite. Only the strongest do. And there was never a female werewolf. Elena is the first.

At the beginning of the novel, Elena lives in Toronto with Philipp. She has left Stonehaven and the pack. She doesnt’ want to be an outsider of society, she wants to fit in, lead a normal live. One day however she gets a call from Jeremy, the Alpha male of the pack. Someone is threatening the pack, wants their territory and has started killing innocent people. She is reluctant to go back at first but finally  gives in. Once she is there she realises how much she missed them. Especially Clay. The novel is action packed and fast paced. There is not only one other werewolf who wants to harm them, there are many. And they eventuallly start to kill the men from the pack. If they want to survive, they have to stick together and fight as one.

Elena fights alongside her men. As said before, she is a strong person. I would wish her as a role model for young women. Powerful and determined. What really surprised me is the writing. Did you ever want to know what it would feel like to be a werewolf? The writing is so detailed, and descriptive that you might very well have the feeling you know what it is like to smell with the nose of a wolf, to tread and run with the paws of a wolf, to hunt and to race through the forest at night. The character development of Elena is interesting too. At times I totally forgot I was reading Fantasy. The core theme is “being true to yourself” and that is certainly a theme anyone can relate to.

As you see, it is very entertaining. A werewolf thriller with a touching love story and a strong heroine. Bitten is the first in the series of Women of the Otherworld. I am not very keen on series but I might read the next one sooner or later.

Any series you like or would suggest?

8 thoughts on “Kelley Armstrong: Bitten (2001) A Werewolf Thriller

  1. Like you, I was a bit hesitant to pick this one up, but some one in an email list recommended it so I gave it a go a few years back. Loved it. Have read most of the others in the series, imo, none are as good as Bitten, but they are fun reads.

    Kelley Armstrong also has a fair amount of her writing online, although she took quite a bit off recently, which is unfortunate. Short stores & origins * the like.
    I think the url is if you want to take a look.

    • Thanks for your comment and the link. Will have a look. Too bad the others are not as good, still I think I would read another one. I am sure they are entertaining anyway. I was curious about the ones centering on witches.

      • I prefer the Elena & the werewolves books, but the witches are interesting, and I think she does a pretty good job of branching out to keep the series fresh.
        Just not quite as good as that first book though. 🙂

        • I am curious about the witches and interested to see what powers they have. What I liked about Bitten is that she doesn’t mix vampires and werewolves like it is done so often. I will have to try the next one too.

  2. Cool I have never heard about this before but there is so much paranormal YA out there at the moment. I like the ones that have strong females in the leading roles 🙂

    • I am not sure it is a YA novel though. There are some explicit sex scenes. I didn’t mind them so I did not mention it. I just think Elena is a great heroine that could inspire younger readers to go their own way, take paths that not everyone takes.

  3. I’d not hear of this author before, but she sounds interesting. There are so many books out now in this genre that it’s hard to know what’s good and what isn’t. I do like a good, fast paced story–I may have to keep an eye out for this one.

    • I began one or two vampire series but was bored after a few pages. I am sure there are good ones. Often the writing is lacking and that’s why I was so pleased about this. She writes really well. I probably will try the second one. These are autumn and winter reads. Now or next year.

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