After enjoying the first two novels in Kelley Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld series I decided to give her collections of short stories a go. These were originally written for her website, I guess as a thank you to her readers, and were later put together and released in book form with money from sales going to charity. Which is nice. Men of the Otherworld has four stories about the men from the Pack, those that are important to Elena. I haven’t read any of her other novels beyond the first two that focus on Elena, and the last story does contain some spoilers for later books in the series, though not enough to ruin it for you completely. I’m a little annoyed that I know some of what’s coming now, but that’s just me.
The first story, Infusion, takes place in 1946 as a baby boy is born into the pack. Remember, only male children are claimed by Pack members and taken from their mothers, girls don’t turn when born to werewolves. This is Antonio, born to the Pack Alpha, Dominic. Malcolm Danvers is taking some ribbing from his friends for not having sons of his own, and he ends up following a young waitress and having a good old time, since he can tell she’s fertile. That’s a neat trick. There’s something unusual about her though, and some chanting and symbol drawing going on. Her leaves her be, but stalks her for a while after to see if she is pregnant, which she is. He intends to claim the boy but when he realises his kid is different decides to leave him be, until his father meddles and demands he see his grandson. So Malcolm claims him, Jeremy, and pretty much makes his life a living hell from then on.
In the next two stories, Savage and Ascension, we’re in Clay’s mind, as he is bitten as a young boy and left to fend for himself as he Changes, through being discovered and beaten by Malcolm and eventually taken in by Jeremy, who earns his trust and loyal devotion. Jeremy tries to civilise Clay but it’s not an easy task, just getting him to speak in full sentences takes an age. And then there are troubles at school and his meeting with other Pack children that don’t go so well. As he ages he learns about Jeremy and Malcolm’s relationship and understands that Malcolm is a threat, and someone who wouldn’t think twice about killing his own son if money weren’t involved. In Ascension we get to see how Jeremy became the Pack Alpha we see in Bitten, and how the Pack lost so many of its members.
Finally there’s Kitsunegari, set in 2007, and follows Jeremy and a glimpse into his relationship with a woman named Jaime Vegas, who I’m assuming will pop up in the other novels at some point. He is followed by an unusual woman and, when Jaime is taken, goes to meet her and her equally unusual sisters, and learn more about his heritage and why he can do things other werewolves can’t.
It was nice to get more of an insight into these men’s lives and thoughts, especially Clay, since I have a total soft spot for him, and this gives a better understanding of why he acts like he does in the novels, particularly towards Elena. I would have liked to have learned more about his reasons for biting Elena and how he rationalised it to himself, but hopefully that will pop up in later stories. I’m still enjoying Armstrong’s writing and these are quick and easy reads to disappear into, with a fair amount of action and decent characters. I’m not sure if I’m going to like the books that don’t focus on Elena and the Pack as much as I have these, but I’ll give them a go.