Rating: 5/5 stars
Series: Women of the Otherworld, Book 5
Genres: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance
I have to admit, Haunted is not only one of my favourite books in this series, it’s also one of my favourite books by Kelley Armstrong to date. The characters are dynamic, the plot is devilish, and I find myself unable to put it down when I pick it up. Even after reading this book numerous times over the years I’m still in love with it.
As this is the fifth book in the series, there’s not much that I can say that wouldn’t spoil the plot up until this point. However, I can say that this entire series is delicious. Armstrong manages to write from multiple perspectives in this series and yet none of these perspectives feel lacking at all. Each character has their own unique personality, which Armstrong uses to create one of the most real worlds I’ve ever experienced in my years as a reader.
In Haunted specifically, I love the way in which Armstrong continues to expand the world. One would think that after flushing out the world for four other stories it would seem like overkill to continue to do so but it’s really not. Instead, Armstrong is able to show how a world is never fully understood. Even in a world in which necromancy is understood to be a true supernatural ability, it’s wicked cool to think that not everything about the afterlife is understood. To have a supernatural system in place to keep the living from understanding what the afterlife is like is even cooler.
If you’re a fan of the supernatural and the unexplained, I’d highly recommend giving this series a shot if you haven’t already. There’s a reason this series as a whole continues to be one of my favourites.
While we’ve gotten a hint of the way that necromancy works earlier on in the series, I love the way that it’s experienced from the other side. Eve, having been dead for three years already, should understand ghost etiquette yet she doesn’t. Kris and Jamie both have to help Eve learn how she should be interacting with the living world as a ghost. Perhaps if she’d paid more attention in ghost orientation things would be easier for her.
Of course, we get to see how a strong necromancer (Jamie) deals with the idea of spirit possession. Jamie knows all of the rules as a living necromancer yet she’s willing to let “Eve” possess her in order to help her daughter. On the flip side, we get to see a similar thing with Chloe in The Reckoning (I’ve placed a brief explanation of the possession in the spoiler section of my review). The comparison of someone understanding necromancy rules to someone who doesn’t understand necromancy rules in the same world just goes to show how well Armstrong understands the worlds she builds. It’s evident in her writing how indepth Armstrong considers every little thing in a world in order to give the reading the most complete experience possible.
Even further than this, we get to experience what it’s like for a ghost to have taken possession of a living being. Eve manages to get Dantalian’s Amulet and slip into Paige’s body in order to stop the Nix from making Savannah think she killed Paige and Lucas. My favourite part of this possession has to be the fact that Paige was helping Eve while possessed. There was no way to warn Paige beforehand that she was going to be possessed and I wondered what was going to happen to her spirit when Eve was in there with her. Turns out, not only was Paige still in there but she was conscious enough of the ensuing events that she was able to help Eve out. Paige told Eve exactly which spell to use in order to get Savannah’s body close to death without actually risking killing her – the wind spell that Paige worked so hard to learn. It was interesting to see Eve having to work within Paige’s own skill set when trying to fight the Nix, trying to guess which spells Paige knew that would help out in the situation.
While Eve still needed to become an angel in order to stop the Nix for good, she wouldn’t even have been able to get that far if Paige hadn’t helped her. I think the Fates were pretty understanding with Eve once she made the “decision” (there really wasn’t a choice here) to become an angel. Eve knew that if she ever decided to say yes to the offer, she’d have to be giving up her current afterlife – which meant giving up Kris after finally realizing that she needed to stop being a chicken and tell him how she (still) felt about him.
Eve realized that she couldn’t give up her [after]life just to keep following Savannah around. As a ghost, all Eve could do was watch from a distance, never interfering even when things got bad. As an angel Eve would have had the power to protect Savannah the way Trsiel was able to. But still, she couldn’t give up Kris. She spent the last twelve years of her life pretending she didn’t care about him, that she didn’t love him. Then she spend three years of her afterlife shooing him off. Finally, having realized that she wanted to spend her forever with him, Eve wasn’t willing to give him up. The Fates making it possible for her to spend 6 months of the year in the ghost world – and thus 6 months of the year with Kris – was a sweet thing they didn’t need to do. This just goes to show that while Eve was a troublemaker her whole time in her afterlife, the Fates still had a sweet spot for her.
One of the things that makes this my favourite book in the series is Eve’s growth as a character. She goes from someone whose whole mission in life (when she was actually alive – not her afterlife) was gaining as much power as she could to someone who finally understood the value of the people she surrounded herself with. She realized that she couldn’t give up her own [after]life in order to be in a state of limbo, no matter how much easier “living” that way would have been.
On top of this, Eve continued to grow as a mother. While we got a hint of Eve’s trust in Paige in both Dime Store Magic and Industrial Magic, we get a firsthand experience in Haunted. At the beginning of the story we get to follow Savannah around with Eve as she laments that while she’s got complete trust in Paige and Lucas as Savannah’s guardians, she wishes she could be the one helping her daughter out with stuff. At the end of the book, Eve knows that she has to keep her possession of Paige a secret from Savannah, even though she’s finally able to physically interact with her daughter.
This story taught Eve that while she wanted to be the kind of mother that could always be there to protect her daughter, there were certain things that were out of her control. Sure it would be great to get to sit and talk to Savannah about silly things like boys, but Eve knew that Savannah would be alright without her – that there were more important things that Eve needed to focus on. Eve was finally able to step back and let Savannah live her life. Sure, it’s hard to let your kids grow up – especially when you’re there but they don’t know it – but Eve was finally able to let Savannah live her life. Of course a mother always worries, but Eve was finally able to shove her worries aside and go live her own [after]life.
Another thing that makes this book one of my favourites is the fact that Armstring did an amazing job at tying the Nix’s chaos to real historical events. By making Lizzie Borden a previous partner, the reader gets a glimpse into the way the Nix’s powers could affect the real world. It would have been just as easy to create a fake serial killer in the story, but by using someone who actually existed Armstrong was able to make the book feel that much more real. It was able to tie Eve’s mission to real world events, invoking real emotions of fear and horror from the reader.
And, of course, I can’t leave off without mentioning how cool it is that the Fates chose a half-demon to become an angel. Not only is Eve a half-witch half-demon, she’s now a full fledged angel. I can’t imagine anyone being more Over Powered than this, but I have to admit it’s a good look on Eve. If anyone can pull it off, she can.
The next story in the series (Broken) goes back to Elena’s perspective, which I look forward to reading. Haunted is certainly my favourite book in the series but the werewolves are my favourite supernaturals. What’s your favourite supernatural in this series? Do you happen to have a different favourite outside of this series?
I’d love to hear your thoughts about Haunted as well as any thoughts about the series in general. If you have a favourite book, which one is it?
Other reviews in the series: