Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Review: Led Astray: The Best of Kelly Armstrong by Kelley Armstrong

Led Astray: The Best of Kelly Armstrong
Author:  Kelley Armstrong
Publisher:  Tachyon Publication, September 15, 215
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook, 384 pages
List Price:  $16.96 (print); $9.99 (eBook)
ISBN:  9781616962029 (print); 9781616962036 (eBook)

With her signature twists and turns, #1 New York Times bestselling author Kelley Armstrong (Otherworld, Cainsville, Darkest Powers, Age of Legends) always gives a fresh spin on city-dwelling vampires, werewolves, and zombies. She is equally exciting when traveling further afield, to a post-apocalyptic fortress, a superstitious village, a supernatural brothel, and even feudal Japan.

Here is the first time that urban fantasy, young adult, mystery, and crime author Kelley Armstrong has had her stories collected from the Otherworld and beyond. From humorous to heart-stopping, and including two original tales, Led Astray showcases Armstrong at her versatile best.

Doreen’s Thoughts

Kelly Armstrong has created several worlds, including her latest Cainsville, her Otherworld, and her Young Adult fantasies. Years ago, she started to post short stories on her website for her most avid readers, and occasionally, she gathers them together and binds them up with other new stories for publication. Here she has put together 23 stories that were published in various unrelated anthologies, combining them for the first time.

Most of the stories center around characters and series that she has set in the Otherworld, one with shapeshifters, vampires, witches, and part-demons. With these, we find out more about various side characters that appear in her major novels. There are three different stories about Zoe, a vampire who appeared once early on in “Stolen.” Several focus on how the Pack acquired various new members, such as Nick, while others center around Clay and Elena’s twins. All of them allow readers to understand more fully the world that Armstrong has created.

Armstrong’s latest series is Cainsville, set in a mysterious city outside Chicago filled with elves who watch over their part-elven offspring, especially those unaware of their own mystical nature. Here Armstrong again offers stories that more fully develop side characters from Cainsville. More important, the stories more fully establish the magic that exists in Cainsville and outline some of the reasoning behind why certain characters act certain ways. “Gabriel’s Gargoyles” tells about the childhood of one of Cainsville’s main characters.

Lastly, Armstrong offers some eerie standalone stories, unrelated to anything else she has written. These are mostly horror stories, ones that make you think late at night about whether your doors are locked. “Suffer the Children” is probably the best of the bunch, set in a bucolic village visited by a mysterious visitor who offers to bring back the dead.

Overall, this anthology really shows the breadth of Armstrong’s writing abilities. Each of her worlds are distinct and separate from one another. Cainsville stories have a different “voice” than stories set in the Otherworld. Her horror stories have a different, more eerie vibe to them than any of the others. Overall, this would be a terrific introduction to Armstrong, but it is absolutely essential to someone who wants to have everything related to a particular series.


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