Now that the feathers have settled around the pro-angel holiday season, I thought I’d get down to business here. Let’s start off the New Year in celebration of werewolves by taking a look at Kelley Armstrong’s book, Bitten.
As I’ve written before, werewolf stories are about what it means to be human. It’s that struggle between the inner self and external societal pressures. It’s man versus beast. In a word, it’s epic.
Bitten has a little bit of something for everyone: part whodunnit, part horror, part fantasy, part romance. Although this sounds like a recipe for disaster, in the capable hands of Armstrong it’s done bloody well (pun totally intended).
The werewolves of Armstrong’s fictional world are not the hulking, mindless man-beasts of classical literature and cult horror films. These are people who turn into wolves at will, hold down steady day jobs, have relationships and endure the trials and tribulations of regular life. Only, as with any canine society, their lives are contained within a Pack order.
In the world that she’s created, there are Alphas but they are both from within the male Pack and the single female protagonist. Although male werewolves are generally born into the world, the only way a female werewolf can exist is by being bitten. A weaker character than Elena Michaels wouldn’t have stood a chance. If she managed to survive the transformation she wouldn’t have been able to deal with the implications of what it means to be a werewolf in a modern world.
Instead, we have Elena who basically says FU Werewolves and tries to regain her old life. In her journey, she isn’t looking for a hero or a white knight. She’s just looking for a return to some sense of normalcy. And she wants an equal partner in her life.
That’s where Clayton Danvers fits into the picture. As Kelley Armstrong herself wrote in a guest post on this site, Who Says Werewolves Can’t Be Sexy? Indeed. Move over Eric Northman. Clay is the complex soul with the nice package (if you know what I mean). Sure, he’s a little possessive in this first book but he’s no Edward Cullen/Jacob Black. His behaviour falls more within the reality of Pack rule.
Anyone who’s had a dog in their life will tell you there’s a pecking order that’s established and that dog humping everything in sight isn’t because it has a fetish but because it’s trying to dominate. That’s sort of the way things play out in this novel among the characters. There’s nipping and play-fighting and moments that seem sexually charged or motivated but it’s all part of the life of werewolves in this world.
Of course, in this world, there are villains and they are the Mutts who prefer solitude to Pack rule. When humans are murdered on Pack territory, Elena is called back to help hunt down the lone werewolf who’s responsible for the crimes and gets much more than she bargains for when she returns.
But that’s all I’m going to say about the plot. If you haven’t done so already, go read the book. If you have read Bitten, what are your thoughts? Were you as awe-struck by Armstrong’s mighty pen as I?
And remember to vote werewolf! No sitting on laurels (or haloes as the case may be).