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Literature: The Otherworld

"Other parents warn their kids not to talk to strangers. I had to warn mine not to eat them."
Jeremy Danvers, Stolen

For tropes associated with other worlds, see Otherworld Tropes. For the anime fan fiction series, see The Otherworld Series. For the 1985 live action series, see Otherworld.

The Otherworld is an Urban Fantasy series by Kelley Armstrong, also marketed under the title Women of the Otherworld. It's based on the idea that Things That Go Bump in the Night exist, but hide behind the Masquerade from humans. Each novel is narrated by one of a rotating cast of supernatural women. The plots of each novel typically include action, mystery, and romance in equal proportions. While the novels can be read alone, or in order of each narrator, minor jokes and plot details only make sense to those who have read the earlier novels.

There are thirteen books in the series, which is on indefinite hiatus. The author also writes a Lighter and Softer Young Adult series set in the same universe, called Darkest Powers, which is still continuing.

The supernatural races include clairvoyants, druids, half-demons, necromancers, shamans, sorcerers, vampires, vodoun priests, werewolves, and witches.

There are four books narrated by Elena Michaels, werewolf; two books narrated by Paige Winterbourne, witch; one book narrated by Eve Levine, witch/half-demon/ghost/angel; one book narrated by Jaime Vegas, necromancer; one book narrated by Hope Adams, half-demon; three books narrated by Savannah Levine, witch; and one book narrated by multiple people. In addition there are many short stories and novellas in anthologies or on the author's website.

A 13-episode series called Bitten based on her work has been commissioned by SPACE and stars Laura Vandervoort as Elena.


Novels

  1. Bitten
  2. Stolen
  3. Dime Store Magic
  4. Industrial Magic
  5. Haunted
  6. Broken
  7. No Humans Involved
  8. Personal Demon
  9. Living with the Dead
    • Men of the Otherworld anthology
  10. Frostbitten
    • Tales of the Otherworld anthology
  11. Waking the Witch
  12. Spellbound
  13. Thirteen (July 2012)

This series provides examples of:

  • Absurdly Youthful Mother: Paige adopts 13-year-old Savannah when she's 23 or so. This works out surprisingly well, as Paige is close enough in age to remember pulling exactly the same crap Savannah was pulling, and treats her with a light rein.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: Paige was treated as a dangerous malcontent by the rest of her Coven, even before they cast her out (though here it was more a case of "Fire her before she quits").
  • All There in the Manual: the author's webpage includes an "Otherworld Bible" with details about demonology not yet seen in the series
  • Aloof Ally: Elena throughout Bitten. Just because she's helping the Pack doesn't mean she wants anything to do with them... although she changes her mind and rejoins in the end.
  • And I Must Scream: multiple examples.
    • People in hell dimensions can be ripped apart, but can't die. Eve sees a man in such a situation.
    • Martha is an incredibly powerful clairvoyant, known as a seer, but has no arms, legs, or eyes, must wear a diaper, is fed through a tube, and can't make a sound louder than a mewl. Not only this, but her mind is fully functional and she's spent her whole life locked up in a bomb shelter with two other seers, neither of whom are exactly...all the way there. If she's not completely insane from at least boredom by now, I'll be surprised.
  • Arbitrary Scepticism: In Personal Demon the main character, who is an empathic half-demon, whose mentor is a werewolf and is currently working for a sorceror doesn't believe in goblins. Note however that the race of the guy who she says looks and acts like a goblin would if they existed is never specified. He might be another type of half-demon of which there are many.
  • Ax-Crazy: Multiple examples.
    • Malcolm Danvers. In Karl Marsten's teenage years, Malcolm chased after him and then tore his father apart because they were "mutts". Malcolm also murdered Jeremy's mother and great-grandmother so he could have sole custody of his son.
    • And then there's Jasper and Jason Haig, aka, Jaz and Sonny, who murder their entire gang and two of Lucas's older brothers and attempt to murder him and Paige as well, leaving the fourth brother, Carlos, to take the fall. Though, this is more a case of them being horribly indoctrinated by their mother, who was a paranoid schizophrenic and had delusions that the Cabals would come after her sons. Yes, she had good reason to worry, as they were a very rare type of supernatural and the Cabals are notorious for doing anything to get their hands on rare types, but still.
    • Adele Morissey from Living With The Dead. Born into a clairvoyant cult called the "kumpania", she doesn't care who she has to stab in the back to get out. She manipulates her fifteen-year-old fiance into helping her, which eventually leads to his suicide. She secretly drugs another woman which leads directly to her being gang raped. She rapes her fiance's mentally handicapped older brother so that she can use the baby as a bargaining chip. And she freely murders several people, including one for accidentally taking a picture of her and another for getting in her way as she tried to flee the police.
    • The Tesler brothers in Frostbitten - sadistic rapists and killers who have crossed the line as "mutt" werewolves. They not only kill people but eat them afterwards: with an attractive woman, the sequence is rape, kill, eat.
  • Baby Factory: How werewolves view women. The Tesler brothers take it a stage further and view them as a nice snack afterwards.
  • Berserk Button: multiple examples.
    • Cassandra hates it when people say she's dead, even though she's a vampire.
    • Threatening Elena, Jeremy, or Logan and Katie is a surefire way to have Clay after your blood as well.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Not an actual wish, but in Waking the Witch Savannah thinks that she'd willingly give up her powers if it meant Paula regained custody of her granddaughter, Kayla. Unfortunately for her, someone was listening.
  • Blessed with Suck: multiple examples.
    • Hope Adams. Unlike other half demons who get some cool power like Telekinesis, Hope has the demons' fascination with chaos, meaning she can sense chaotic thoughts or have visions of chaos but has no super powers to protect herself when she gets into a sticky situation.
    • Jaime to a lesser extent, she tends to end up as the Butt Monkey as well because since her abilities are useless in combat. Also, necromancers usually go insane as they grow older.
    • Clairvoyants, too. Their visions eventually drive them insane, and though they can spy on a subject using their remote viewing, they can't remote view other clairvoyants and their power is usually weak, lasting seconds at the most. Seers, though, have the worst of the lot. They are incredibly powerful clairvoyants, but they're all deformed, and two of the three known seers were also very mentally handicapped. The one who wasn't...well...
  • Big Eater: All of the werewolves have a crazy metabolism and have an extra large appetite as a result of this. Elena struggles with this because a slender young woman tends to draw attention to herself if she starts overeating, far more than the male wolves.
  • Body Horror: A werewolf in the middle of a Change is not a pretty sight.
  • Broken Bird: Elena.
  • Brought Down to Normal: Savannah in Waking The Witch.
  • Bullying a Dragon: The Witches' treatment of Paige and Savannah, despite them both being stronger than many of them put together, and nowhere near as afraid to use their powers at high levels.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: Paige and Lucas, so much.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Eve learned dark magic so that she would be able to stand up to her enemies, making her and Paige Not So Different.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Elena and Clayton both fit this. Xavier however takes the cake.
    • Lucas has a lot of this too, most notably whenever Paige acts impulsively.
  • Demonic Possession: In No Humans Involved a demon takes control of a human; when the demon disappears, the host has no idea what happened to him. In the final novel 13 the veil between worlds is super thin making it super easy for demon lords to just possess people and go walkabout in their bodies which happens every couple chapters or so.
  • DVD Bonus Content: The author's website carries additional short stories and novellas set in the universe that provide background or additional adventures for many of the series characters.
  • Domino Revelation: From witches to werewolves they all get introduced.
  • Evil,Inc: The Cabals.
  • Fantastic Racism: multiple examples.
    • Witches and sorcerers hate each other. Though there are historically valid reasons, it's probably time to get over it.
    • Pack wolves and mutts towards each other. Depending on the era and the Pack Alpha, it varies between the civilized Pack preventing the mutts from killing and eating humans for fun, or the bully Pack murdering mutts for fun.
    • In general the different races seem uncomfortable around werewolves and vampires, since they're less human like, and also more prone to feasting on humans.
  • Feminist Fantasy
  • The Grovel: In Haunted, Kristof issues Eve an ultimatum: stop trying to communicate with the living or he'll leave her, because he can't be with someone who's slowly destroying herself like that. He catches her red-handed and sadly walks away. Later Eve realizes she's thrown away the one good thing in her life in pursuit of an unreachable goal. She goes to him with a simple yet sincere, "I fucked up."
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Half-demons.
  • Heroic Bastard: Lucas and Savannah are illegitimate children of Cabal higher-ups. Their fathers love them, but the rest of their relatives...not so much.
  • Hunting the Most Dangerous Game: In Stolen, Elena and other supernaturals are kidnapped to be experimented on and the major funder of this project is a millionaire video game designer who likes to hunt them when they've outlived their usefulness.
  • Hybrid Monster: multiple examples.
    • Eve, a ghost/dark witch/half-demon. She eventually becomes an angel as well.
    • Jeremy, half werewolf and half Kogitsune.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Elena keeps telling herself this throughout Bitten, because she hasn't really accepted that she prefers being a werewolf and living in the pack.
  • I Just Want to Be Special: In Stolen, Sondra Bauer injects herself with Elena's saliva to turn herself into a werewolf.
  • I'm Okay: Savannah does this toward the end of Waking The Witch.
  • Interrogating the Dead: The ability to do this is what makes the police officer Finn so good at catching crooks.
  • Interspecies Romance: pretty much everyone with a romantic interest but Elena and Clay has one, really.
    • Paige/Lucas: Witch/Sorcerer
    • Eve/Kristof: Witch & Aspicio Half-Demon/Sorcerer
    • Jaime/Jeremy: Necromancer/Werewolf
    • Hope/Karl: Chaos Half-Demon/Werewolf
    • What looks to be upcoming is Savannah/ Adam: Witch/ Exustio Half-Demon
  • Is That What He Told You?: Turns out the Menarche Rite Paige was taught was a Nerfed version of the real thing.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Elena. She has quite the violent temper, and can be selfish and cruel. But she has moments when she shows genuine caring towards others, notably the Pack.
  • Light Is Not Good: The Coven witches, who only use white magic, aren't evil per se, but most turn out to be backstabbing hypocrites. Black Magician Girls Paige, Eve and Savannah are much more sympathetic than they are.
  • Lighter and Softer: The author's Darkest Powers subseries. Though she did barely change it. The sex scenes become kissing scenes, and killing the bad guy becomes knocking the bad guy unconscious.
  • Magikarp Power: In Dime Store Magic, it is revealed that the seemingly useless secondary spells are the key to learning powerful tertiary spells.
  • Mama Bear: Both Paige and Eve are this for Savannah.
  • Masquerade: All supernatural races have to hide themselves or face dire consequences. In Stolen we see some humans capturing supernaturals to study them and to play with their abilities.
  • May-December Romance: The only pairing in the series where the male is not at least a decade older than the female is Lucas/Paige, who are only two years apart. Karl is twenty-three years older than Hope, but since he's a werewolf, he ages slowly and doesn't look older than mid-thirties. This causes some confusion for Robyn in Living With The Dead when another werewolf continually refers to him as "the old man".
  • Monster Mash
  • Necromancer: Jaime Vegas. She subverts most common necromancer traits by being vivacious, outgoing, and more than a little silly at times.
  • Never Found the Body: Contrary to what everyone believed, Malcolm wasn't killed and buried by an anonymous mutt.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: Expisco half-demons, such as Hope, thrive on chaos.
  • No Periods, Period: Averted. A major plot thread in Dime Store Magic involves Savannah getting her first period which marks a huge gain in spellcasting power for witches.
  • No Social Skills: Clayton Danvers, first and only child werewolf. He starts out barely surviving on his own before fellow werewolf Jeremy rescues him and teaches him how to pass in human society.
  • One-Gender Race: multiple examples.
    • Witches bear only daughters while sorcerers only sire sons. They can use each other's magic, but not as well as the proper users can. Witch magic generally relies on incantations or healing brews, while sorcerer magic uses gestures. The only way to have a male witch or female sorcerer is for a witch and a sorcerer to have a child together; the child will be both, like Savannah.
    • Werewolves are always male; the gene passes from father to son and Elena is the only known female werewolf to survive a bitten Change. Potentially averted by Katie Danvers, a female werewolf born to Clayton and Elena. Only time will tell if she develops the abilities.
  • Our Angels Are Different: Most Angels are separate beings but a few of them are ascended human beings.
  • Our Demons Are Different: Low ranking cacodemons thrive on chaos, and like to take on human form to father children. Half-demons inherit the main power of their fathers. Elemental control, teleportation, telekinesis and telepathy are common, as are enhancements of regular human abilities, such as strength, sight and hearing. This power manifests itself sometime between the ages of twelve and twenty. In Hope Adams' case she inherits the taste for chaos.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: Ghosts reside in multiple versions of the afterlife. Most supernaturals end up in the same afterlife together.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Vampires can go out in the sun, have super fast healing. They must kill once a year to preserve their immortality. Vampires are not immortal per se, merely long lived. As they age the tend to get more and more disconnected from other people.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: werewolves that turn into pure wolves at will, but the process is painful. They must Change about once a week, becoming more irritable and restless the longer they put it off, until finally their bodies take over and they Change involuntarily. Control over their Change is a matter of teaching, practice, and willpower. All but one of the werewolves are male, and they pass the gene down to their sons (daughters need not apply). A hereditary werewolf will not have his first Change until late adolescence. Werewolves can be made by an infected bite or by injection with werewolf saliva, but most are hereditary, because very few bitten werewolves survive the transition. Frostbitten also introduces a second completely separate type of werewolf in a Lost World type scenario, in Alaska.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: Necromancers have the ability to bring people back from the dead, although the zombies have to deal with the state their body is in. Zombies appear to remember who and what they are, and the one time they are used is to scare a bunch of humans and try to frame Paige as the cause, especially as Paige is already suspected to be the person behind the zombie's death.
    • It's also shown in Spellbound that demons can inhabit humans and animals who have died.
  • Painful Transformation: Werewolf transformations are described as agony.
  • Parental Abandonment: Almost too many to list. Elena's parents were killed in a car accident when she was five. The full demon fathers of half-demons are never around. Though in Haunted, it's implied that Balaam, Eve's father, keeps tabs on her. Supposed he "speaks very highly of [her]".
  • Parental Favoritism: Lucas is, by far, Benicio Cortez's favorite son. As a result of this and of Lucas's mother being Benicio's mistress, Lucas's half-brothers and Benicio's wife hate Lucas and have repeatedly tried to kill him.
    • Thomas Nast is no better, favoring Kristof and later his grandson Sean. His son Josef is shown to be more than a little bitter about being second fiddle not only to his dead brother but even to his nephew, and Bryce is beginning to resent being in Sean's shadow by the time they're adults.
  • Plucky Girl: Most of the female characters fit, but especially Paige. She will not stop, no matter what she is put through.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: In No Humans Involved, some humans find a way to access magic. They do this by sacrificing children and cremating their organs, so that their ashes can be used in spells. As if that wasn't bad enough, it turns out the magic is charged by the children's souls.
  • Power Perversion Potential: multiple examples.
    • In Dime Store Magic, Paige seduces Lucas by using spells to turn on the radio, light candles, caress him with wind, and most notably, use a modified fireball spell that apparently made her warm fingers particularly stimulating.
    • Personal Demon shows us Hope, a chaos half-demon who gets a high off chaotic emotions and adrenaline. Karl arouses her by deliberating calling up memories of risky or chaotic situations and letting her feel his adrenaline rush.
  • Pregnant Badass: Elena in Broken. While being mostly full-term pregnant with twins.
  • Prove I Am Not Bluffing: The first time Clay killed a mutt, he went to great lengths to make certain people will think twice before challenging the Pack in the future.
  • Sarcastic Devotee: Clay and Elena towards each other. They're in love, but neither lets the other get away with anything without at least one snarky comment.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Lucas, oh my GOD.
  • Sequel Hook: Waking The Witch - the most blatant one in the series so far
  • Shapeshifter Baggage: Averted. Werewolves have the same body mass in either form and are explicitly described as very big wolves.
  • Small Girl, Big Gun: Hope Adams has the superpower of sensing chaos, but no combat abilities. She's also quite shor- uh, petite. Since her chaos detector invariably draws her into danger, she makes a point of carrying at least one gun with her, and she regularly practices with it.
  • Soul-Cutting Blade: Angels use their Sword of Judgment to send souls of bad guys off to where they need to go. The Swords can only be used on evil people, though.
  • Spot the Imposter: Several times.
    • Best not to try this one with Lucas; when Eve tries to impersonate Paige, inside of two minutes he's caught on and is threatening to break her neck if she doesn't tell him what she's done with his wife.
    • It's how Savannah realized Jessie was possessed by Leah O'Donnell: She remembered Leah's demonic tell and habit of calling her "kiddo".
  • Stalker with a Crush: Jaz becomes something like this for Hope. She had genuinely liked him, but upon and finding out that he and Sonny weren't the nice people she had thought they were, came to understandably dislike him. Jaz, meanwhile, is convinced that Hope really loves him despite what he did ( including trying to murder one of her friends right in front of her) and is just confused. Much to Karl's dismay, he is still obsessed with her a year later.
  • Stepford Smiler: Jaime. Well, what's to be expected of a celebrity spiritualist who actually ''can'' see ghosts?
  • Tailor-Made Prison
    • Haunted: Particularly nasty serial killers are locked up in a sort of personal hell. With other serial killers for company.
    • Personal Demon: Jasper is locked up instead of being killed simply because he's a new and possibly unique type of supernatural.
  • Thanatos Gambit: In Waking The Witch, Leah O'Donnell pulls a nasty one on Savannah: Leah sent all of Savannah's case notes to Chief Bruyn, along with some extra faked ones saying that Paula Thompson killed Ginny and Brandi (true) because she wanted sole custody of Kayla, Ginny's daughter and her granddaughter (not true).
  • Trauma Conga Line: In Dime Store Magic, things start out bad for Paige and get steadily worse. Being the Plucky Girl she is, though, she refuses to break.
  • Unequal Rites: Between sorcerers and witches, to go with their Fantastic Racism. It's completely possible for them to learn each other's spells, but few do because witches tend to consider sorcerer magic to be destructive and evil, much like they consider sorcerers, and sorcerers tend to consider witch magic pacifistic and weak, much like their opinion of witches.
  • Unto Us a Son and Daughter Are Born
  • Urban Fantasy
  • Voluntary Shapeshifter: Members of the Haig family can shift their facial features around to make them look like someone else, even impersonate other people.
    • Werewolves can do so as well and the Pack werewolves are encouraged to do so. Although it's painful and unplesent to look at as mentioned above.
  • Wedding Day: The short story "Wedding Bell Hell" details Paige and Lucas's.
  • White Sheep: Lucas.
  • Wicked Stepmother: Lucas's father's wife is excluded from any events Lucas might be attending after she tried to poison him at his graduation dinner. Though as he points out, it's hard to call her his "stepmother" since she's been married to his father since before his birth.
  • Working with the Ex: In Bitten, Elena has to work with the werewolf pack she used to be part of and runs into an ex-lover, Clay. After a lot of Belligerent Sexual Tension they get back together.
  • Youkai: The Kitsune type. In The Men of the Otherworld anthology we discover that Jeremy's mother's race, the Kogitsune, were enslaved by the Kitsune.
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: Clay has this reaction twice in Ascension, mostly when Malcolm points out they're Not So Different. Considering that Malcolm was an Ax-Crazy psychopath who very happily murdered non-Pack werewolves, including Karl Marsten's father, simply because they exist, can you blame him?


Night WorldVampire FictionOut of the Dark
The Other Boleyn GirlLiterature of the 2000sOuternet
The Orphan's TalesFantasy LiteratureOutlander

alternative title(s): Women Of The Otherworld; The Otherworld
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