Industrial Magic by Kelley Armstrong

 

Rating: 5/5 stars Industrial Magic

Pages: 394

Series: Women of the Otherworld, Book 3

Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Witches, Romance, Adult

 

Just like every other book in this series, Armstrong does a fantastic job at widening the world. Not only do we get introduced to even more types of supernatural beings, Armstrong gives the reader a more in depth understanding of how they interact with each other and the politic situation these beings find themselves in.

While this book follows Paige as she tries to solve the mystery of who’s killing of cabal employees children, this book isn’t only dark and depressing. We also get a closer look at the budding relationship between Paige and Lucas. Like all relationships in this series, I personally can’t get enough of it. On a less romantic, more familial side of things, we also get to see the way Lucas and his father, Benicio, begin to overcome their differences of opinion. Like all families, it’s messy at first, but it’s starting to get better towards the end of the book. It’s not perfect, which makes things feel more real.

This is also the book where we get introduced to one of my favourite characters, Jamie. I forgot exactly how she was introduced to the reader until the scene it was happening, and I’ve got to admit I loved being caught off guard and getting to re-experience the scene all over again.

As this has been my favourite series for 10 years now, I would definitely recommend giving it a try if you haven’t already. Of course, you should start with the first book in the series, Bitten. If you’re a fan of the supernatural and don’t mind a little smut thrown in (I promise, it’s not a huge plot point in any of the books – it just adds a little steam to the stories), then this series might just be right up your alley.

*Spoilers ahead*

One of the things that Armstrong does beautifully in this book is her subtle social commentary about double standards and racial discrimination. For example, in the prologue there’s a character that’s making racially stereotypical comments about half-demons. She admits that she does it to get a rise out of her coworker, but continues to make the comments anyways. Then, in the end of the prologue a different character who’s half-demon makes a racial comment about witches.

Through the use of different supernatural races, Armstrong is able to highlight how people act in the real world. While one “race” might make comments about another in a derogatory or demeaning way, another “race” will probably be making the same type of comments about yet another “race”. I use quotations around the word “race” here because there is no scientific evidence to show that there are different races of humans in the world. I understand the cultural significance some place on making this distinction, but I feel it is important to note that this is not actually a biological difference.

I believe that the use of these supernatural races in this way makes the reality of racism more palatable to the reader. It makes it obvious what’s going on without making the reader feel uncomfortable by using the basic human “races” that exist in this world. In this way, it is not a skin colour or origin issue that is being brought up but rather a supernatural one. It’s a clever way to draw parallels to the real world and letting the reader infer the real meaning of scenes like this.

Of course, this racial double standard continues to pop up throughout the rest of the book. When Paige is being introduced to the Cortez Cabal, the sorcerers all talk down to her and sneer at her ability to do anything. Even towards the end of the book, Paige makes a comment about Benicio having a heart attack for thinking Lucas proposed. While she was off base there and Benicio no longer held the same distain for witches that he did before spending so much time with Paige, it is still a problem within a majority of the sorcerer race. In previous books in this series, werewolves were considered to be dumb brutes – a fact that Clay uses to scare off mutts and Elena uses to her advantage.

On a lighter note, I love the way that Paige and Lucas stay true to their morals and continue to turn down Benicio even after hearing him out. Sure, it’s heartbreaking to hear about teenagers being targeted and killed. But the cabals have enough power and resources to do something about it if they really wanted and this wasn’t just Benicio trying to get Lucas to do something for the cabal.

I’ll admit it’s heartbreaking that a third teen of the Cortez Cabal had to be targeted and die for the cabals to “do” anything about it, and this is what pushed Paige over the edge and got her to decide to actually investigate the situation. But I admire both Paige and Lucas for staying true to themselves and saying no to the proposition at first. They both dealt with the situation rationally instead of using their hearts, which let them make a decision that they could live with based on the factors at hand. When it became apparent that the cabals were not going to be able to do anything effective about the situation, Lucas and Paige stepped up.

One of the most interesting parts of this story might very well be the glimpse into the afterlife that we got to see. While I’m not glad that Lucas has to “almost” die in order to get this experience, it did showcase a different supernatural world than the one that Paige and Lucas were living in.

The fact that Armstrong was able to work in a couple of points of information about this world’s version of the afterlife while still maintaining a vague sense of mystery just goes to show what an amazing writer she is. I loved getting to see Miami and an overgrown swampland filled with humanoid creatures best left alone. I love hearing that there were different planes and you had to use special codes to travel from one to another. I love finding out that Kristoff found Eve and was following her around like a lovesick puppy. But most of all, I love the idea that even the supernatural don’t fully understand the afterlife.

Heck, for a majority of the story it was believed that vampires don’t have an afterlife at all, that becoming a vampire was their version of an afterlife. I really enjoyed the fact that even after determining that Jamie’s spook was Natasha, there still weren’t any concrete answers about a vampire’s afterlife. There was no guarantee that the afterlife was there for all vampires and not a result of Natasha’s immortality questing. Leaving it open ended like this makes it more interesting, to me. With questions left unanswered, the reader is left with the ability to draw their own conclusions.

Overall, my favourite part of this series has to be the character growth that you get to experience as the reader. Sure, it’s fun to read about supernatural races and how they interact with each other. Sure, it’s cute to see couples meet and get together. Of course I enjoy a good mystery and getting to follow Paige and Lucas along as they solve it, seemingly with the world against them. But getting to see the characters themselves grown and evolve throughout the books is simply remarkable.

Take Elena for example. At the start of the series Elena didn’t want anything to do with anything supernatural. She was still rebelling against Clay and the pack, trying to prove that she was different from them, that she could be normal and fit into normal society. Yet here, in the fourth book of the series, Elena is finally comfortable enough to be herself. Sure her and Clay still need to work through things, but their relationship isn’t perfect. He has abandonment issues and she has trust issues. They both have anger issues which makes communicating hard for them at times. But they’ve both matured enough to try to work together to come up with solutions.

While Savannah is still only a thirteen year old in this book, she’s already started to mature. She’s started listening to Paige and Lucas instead of yelling at Paige for not being exactly like Eve. She might pout and complain about being forced to stay behind while the adults take care of the dangerous stuff, but she’s no longer going to go into a different room and try using her magic to help out without knowing what the magic will do. Savannah is already showing signs of being willing to listen and bide her time instead of acting like a spoiled brat all the time. And if she’s been able to grow this much over such a small period of time, one can only imagine how mature Savannah has the potential to become.

And, of course, I want to talk about the progress that Paige goes through from the first time we meet her in Stolen to the final pages of Industrial Magic. Paige goes from a strong headed witch who isn’t really willing to listen to anyone who has a different opinion than she does to being able to hold her tongue and allow Adam to make his own decisions. Paige is finally willing to accept compromise and the reality that sometimes others might have the solution to a situation. Even after getting kicked out of the Coven, Paige thought it was her duty to create a new Coven, to recruit witches on the outskirts of their society and hep them discover their true potential. While at the end of this book Paige is still willing to create this new generation Coven, she finally realizes that she doesn’t have to in order to be a successful person. She can do what makes herself happy and still help others without having to force a change in a society that might not be ready for it. Sometimes the greatest maturity comes from realizing you might be ready for something while others are not. Everyone progresses at their own rate and it does no one good to try and force others to move at your speed.

If you’ve gotten this far, I can only assume you’ve read the book and thus know what I was rambling on about. If so, I want to know your thoughts on my thoughts on the book. Even more than that, I’d like to know your thoughts and opinions on the stuff I didn’t talk about. What was your favourite part of the book?


Other reviews from the series:

  1. Bitten, Book 1
  2. Stolen, Book 2
  3. Dime Store Magic, Book 3

 

5 thoughts on “Industrial Magic by Kelley Armstrong

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