Reviewed by Mandy Wrangles
Savannah Levine is a private investigator in training. She also happens to be the orphaned daughter of a black witch and a demon and isn’t afraid to throw her inherited power around. At 21 and working in her guardian’s detective agency that specialises in all things supernatural, she’s dying to prove herself with a case of her own. In this story, she gets her chance. Three young women have been murdered in the fading factory town of Columbus in what looks like ritualistic killings. With her guardians away, Savannah takes on the case as a favour to an associate and at first glance it looks like nothing more than a garden-variety human set-up. But on closer inspection, things get nasty – especially for Savannah.
Savannah is gutsy, smart and pragmatic. She’s one of those characters you can’t help but love; she’s sassy and laugh-out-loud funny at times. But she’s also sensitive and flawed; a romantic at heart. Just don’t annoy her or you might find yourself on the wrong end of her temper and a particularly nasty spell!
Waking the Witch is a typical investigative crime novel at its heart, with supernatural elements thrown in. As Savannah digs deeper into Columbus’ inner workings, she finds her lists of suspects growing longer and longer. There’s the dirty local entrepreneur who bullies the townsfolk (and his wife, it seems) for his own means and also happens to have a ‘past’ with one of the dead women. There’s the cult leader and his harem of cookie-baking lost-girls just out of town with an interest in the occult, family members and associates of the victims, two of whom were anything but innocents. Even the local cops might know more than they’re letting on.
And then – there’s the love interest. I’m not going too far into this particular sub-plot – mainly because it’s not the focus of the story. There’s just enough to make you care about the characters involved, but this is by no means anything close to a romance novel.
This is the first book of Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld series that I’ve read. I generally never read a series out of order, however the author’s website makes it clear that each book is a stand-alone and reading order is irrelevant. For most of Waking the Witch, I found this true. There’s just enough back-story to fill the reader in on what they need to know, without overdosing on useless information. Throughout the story, I didn’t feel lost or out of the loop. Unfortunately, I did feel let down by the climatic ending. As a crime novel, this story is tightly told, the reveal not overly obvious, and multiple twists kept me reading. But unless you’ve read previous books in this series, the ending will disappoint. I have to admit I felt ripped-off after investing time in a novel I was enjoying only to find a character that was given only a very fleeting mention at the start of the book (in back-story) become the catalyst at the end.
My recommendation? Read this series in the order it was released, you’ll get far more out of it.
Published by Orbit
Paperback, 325 pages
ISBN – 978-1-84149-806-5