Tales of the Otherworld (Women of the Otherworld Series)

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Overview

New York Times bestselling author Kelley Armstrong has bewitched audiences with her Otherworld series of supernatural thrillers. Now, in this new collection of shorter fiction, some of Armstrong’s most tantalizing lead characters appear alongside her unforgettable supporting players, who step out of the shadows and into the light.
  
Have you ever wondered how lone wolf Clayton Danvers finally got bitten by the last thing he ever ...

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Tales of the Otherworld (Women of the Otherworld Series)

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Overview

New York Times bestselling author Kelley Armstrong has bewitched audiences with her Otherworld series of supernatural thrillers. Now, in this new collection of shorter fiction, some of Armstrong’s most tantalizing lead characters appear alongside her unforgettable supporting players, who step out of the shadows and into the light.
  
Have you ever wondered how lone wolf Clayton Danvers finally got bitten by the last thing he ever expected: love? Or how the hot-blooded bad-girl witch Eve Levine managed to ensnare the cold, ruthless corporate sorcerer Kristof Nast in one of the Otherworld’s most unlikely pairings? Would you like to be a fly on the wall at the wedding of Lucas Cortez and Paige Winterbourne as their eminently practical plans are upended by their well-meaning friends? Or tag along with Lucas and Paige as they investigate a gruesome crime that looks to be the work of a rogue vampire?
Now devotees of the Otherworld can share these special moments with some of their favorite characters—as well as discovering deeper insights into the lives of some of the lesser-known players. But even readers new to the 
 
Otherworld universe will find much to love in these seven tales of friendship, adventure, and enduring romance. For when the superhuman men and women of the Otherworld set their minds to a task, they do so with fierce passion and an undivided sense of purpose that make them, in the end, very much human.
 

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

Kelley Armstrong's second Otherworld short fiction collection delivers the tales of friendship, human interest, and adventure that fans have been craving. Tales of the Otherworld features stories about characters including, not certainly not limited to Clayton Danvers, Eve Levine, Paige Winterbourne, Lucas Cortez, and Kristof Nast. Witches, werewolves, vampires, and other neighborly creatures. Early versions of these stories appeared online, but they have been revised and one completely new picture has been added. Now in mass market paperback and NOOK Edition.

Publishers Weekly
Witches, sorcerers, half-demons, vampires, and werewolves clash in bestseller Armstrong's second Otherworld collection (after 2009's Men of the Otherworld), which includes many stories first posted on her Website to fill in the gaps about characters from her novels. In “Rebirth,” Aaron, a young Englishman, discovers his vampire heritage; in the lighter “Bewitched,” half-demon witch Eve Levine braves racial stereotyping to connect with sorcerer Kristof Nast. The novella “Beginnings” reveals the backstory of Elena, the heroine of 2004's Bitten. The first tales are accessible to new readers, but some stories feel incomplete, and Armstrong's complex worlds, which include magical organizations reminiscent of mafia families, may confuse the uninitiated. Armstrong's longtime fans, however, will be delighted. All proceeds go to World Literacy of Canada. (Apr.)
From the Publisher
“Fans and newcomers alike will relish Kelley Armstrong’s eerie tales.” —The Globe and Mail
 
“Armstrong’s longtime fans . . . will be delighted.” —Publishers Weekly
 
 “Terrific . . . a superb compilation.”—Midwest Book Review
Library Journal
Armstrong returns with seven entertaining backstories to her highly popular "Otherworld" adult series. Written with her magnificent trademark flair for storytelling, these tales will reveal how werewolf Clayton Danvers fell in love, how witch Eve Levine first met Kristof Nast, as well as more details about the entertaining events at Lucas Cortez and Paige Winterbourne's wedding and their search for a rogue vampire suspected to be the force behind some horrendous crimes. Also included is the long-awaited, brand-new story "The Case of El Chupacabra." As in the first anthology, New Men of the Otherworld, the stories here were first published as free fiction on Armstrong's web site as both a "thank you" to her loyal readers and in response to reader requests. Once again, all proceeds will be donated to Literacy of Canada. VERDICT Those unfamiliar with "Otherworld" will be somewhat lost as to the significance of the stories shared, but series fans will be eager to devour these delightful tales. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 12/09; ebook edition ISBN 978-0-553-90742-1; library marketing.]—Crystal Renfro, Georgia Inst. of Technology Lib., Atlanta
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780553593303
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/22/2011
  • Series: Women of the Otherworld Series
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 464
  • Product dimensions: 4.19 (w) x 6.87 (h) x 1.02 (d)

Meet the Author

Kelley Armstrong

Kelley Armstrong is the author of thirteen novels of the Otherworld, including Frostbitten and Living with the Dead. She lives with her family in Ontario, Canada.

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Read an Excerpt

Tales of the Otherworld


By Kelley Armstrong

Bantam

Copyright © 2010 Kelley Armstrong
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780553807882

Aaron stumbled from the tavern and gasped as the first blast of cold air slapped him. He paused in the doorway and took a deep breath. Geoffrey jostled him from behind, and Aaron gave him a good-natured shoulder that sent his friend staggering back.  

"Move it, you big ox," John said, kneeing Aaron in the rear. 

  "Just push me out of the way." Aaron shot a grin over his shoulder. "Or maybe you should squeeze past instead. You're skinny enough."

   Aaron stepped onto the cobblestone street and grimaced. So much for fresh air. The narrow street stank of shit--horse shit, dog shit, human shit; that's what came of living so close you couldn't take a crap without piling it on someone else's. Give himfarm life any day. Plenty of shit there, too, but at least there was room to spread it around.   He squinted up and down the street, his ale-soaked brain struggling to remember which way they'd come. That was another problem with towns. You couldn't see a damn thing. The buildings not only crowded your view, they crowded out the moonlight, and thelanterns dotting the street added more smoke than light.  

"Inn's this way," Geoffrey said, smacking Aaron's arm. "Come on before the mistress locks the door."  

She had locked them out the last time, and ithad been a long, cold night on the street. Aaron and Geoffrey came to the city every other month, bringing goods to market. They'd finished their work this morning, but their families didn't expect them backuntil Sunday night, knowing that any young man who stayed home to help his parents on the farm deserved time to sample the cosmopolitan treats he was forgoing.  

One of those "treats" peered out from a side street as they passed. She met Aaron's gaze and batted her lashes in what he supposed was meant to be a come-hither look, but seemed more like soot caught in her eyes. She couldn't have been more than twelve,the bodice of her dirty dress stuffed to simulate the curves she wouldn't see for another few years . . . if she lived that long.  

Aaron walked over, and pressed a few coins into the whore's palm. A look--part relief, part trepidation--sparked in her eyes, then they clouded with confusion as he returned to his friends.  

John bumped against him. "How drunk are you? You forgot to take what you paid for." 

  "Oh, Aaron never has to pay for it," Geoffrey said. "When a tart sees him coming, she closes her purse and opens her legs."  

"If you don't want it, I'll take it."  

John started to turn, but Aaron grabbed his shoulders and steered him forward.  

"What?" John grumbled. "It's paid for."  

As they stumbled past an alley, a whimper snaked out from the darkness, followed by the crack of a fist hitting flesh.   Aaron stopped.  

"Ya gotta have more than that," a voice rumbled. "Find it . . . or I will."  

"Aaron . . ." Geoffrey said, plucking Aaron's sleeve. "It's none of your business. And, for once, let's leave it that way, or we'll spend another night on the street."  

Aaron brushed his friend off and strode into the alley. As he walked, his steps steadied, the effects of the ale sloughing off as he focused on the voices. He pulled himself up to his full height and peeled off his jacket. That was often enough--towerover the thug and flex his muscles, and most decided they really didn't need that few pence tonight after all. As he approached the black-haired lout and quaking shopkeeper, his gaze went to the ruffian's hands, looking for a weapon. Nothing. Good.  

Aaron grabbed the man's shoulder. "You want to rob someone? Try me."  

The lout's hand slammed forward. A flash of metal. Where had that come--?  

The blade drove into his chest. Aaron shoved the man away and staggered back. His hands went to his chest. Blood pumped out over his fingers. The man came at him again, but the sound of running footsteps made him think better of it and he ran off intothe darkness.  

"Aaron? Aaron!"  

Aaron tried to take a step, but faltered and hit the wall. He stood there, knees locked, forcing himself to stay upright. Then he crumpled.    

Aaron twisted in his bed. The damned thing dug into both of his shoulders and butted against the top of his head and bottoms of his feet. Inns. Cram as many people into a room as they can, and if you're more than average height, well, that's not the inn'sfault. 

  Eyes still closed, he took a deep breath. Flowers and a faint musty smell. The mistress probably set out fresh blooms to cover the stink, so she wouldn't have to change the bedding more than once a month. 

  He should open his eyes. He knew that--but he also knew that first blare of morning sun was going to feel like Satan's imps stabbing his eyes with pitchforks. He shouldn't drink so much. He wasn't used to it, and he paid for his folly every morning after.

 Speaking of folly . . . He let out a groan as he remembered the man in the alley. Next time he decided to rescue someone, he'd take an extra moment to make damned sure the lout wasn't concealing a knife. Now he really didn't want to get up. He'd been stabbedin the chest once before, and it had taken him weeks to recover.  

The last time, he'd been unable to lift anything heavier than a piglet for a month. His father had to do all the chores, and he'd kept sighing and muttering "Aaron, Aaron, Aaron," his weathered face wrinkling. But he kept his gaze down when he said it,to cover the pride in his eyes.  

"A big strong boy with a good heart," he'd boast to the neighbors when he thought Aaron couldn't hear. "What more could a father want?"  

"God gave you strength," his mother always said. "Always remember that it's a gift, and gifts from God are to be used in his service. Help those less fortunate than you, and you'll please him." 

  Helping others, though, did not mean getting stabbed and being unable to help his father. His mother would be very firm about that.  

"Be careful, Aaron," she'd say. "You're too quick to act. Take a moment to think as well."  

Maybe he could persuade one of his brothers to come back home for a month and help. Even as the thought occurred, though, he dismissed it. They had their own families and jobs and farms. He was the only one left. His father relied on him.  

He groaned again.  

Enough of that. Time to grit his teeth and get up.  

He pulled up his knees and they struck something with a hollow thwack. He opened one eye. The wavering glow of candlelight cast a dim glow in the dark room. Was it still night?   He reached sideways to brace himself as he sat up, and his hand smacked against wood. A bed with sides on it? Had Geoffrey and the others dumped him in a horse trough again?  

He opened the other eye. Then, grabbing the sides, he heaved himself up, bracing for the throb of pain through his chest. It didn't come.   Had he dreamed the stabbing? His fingers moved to his chest. It felt fine . . . fine and whole. That damned cheap ale was giving him nightmares now. 

  He sat up and blinked. He was in a dark, empty room, lit only by a few candles. It looked vaguely familiar. There was a board across his boxlike bed, pushed sideways away from his head and chest; that's what he'd hit his knees on. A black-robed figuresat near his feet, head bent forward in sleep.   Aaron rubbed his eyes. Where the hell was he? It looked familiar. Then he blinked as the memory clicked. It looked like the inside of the family mausoleum. Well, not really a mausoleum; it was made of rough-hewn wood. A mausoleum for a farmer's familywas ridiculous, as every neighbor had at some point whispered to another. But that was the condition of marriage his mother had made.   "My children must be buried aboveground," she'd told his father. "It is our way."  

His father hadn't argued. Who knew what her ways were? She was a Jew and a foreigner, and all he knew was that this beautiful young woman he'd met in London was willing to marry a forty-year-old bachelor and bear his sons. She could have said she wantedhim to build her a tower to the moon, and he'd have done it.

   As for why Aaron was waking up in the mausoleum . . . well, obviously the ale was giving him nightmares. Damn. He'd really hoped the stabbing part of his evening had been the dream, not the waking. 

  He went to lie back down when his knees knocked the board again, this time sending it clattering to the floor. The figure in the chair jumped up, her hood falling back, and he saw a dark-haired woman, gracefully sliding into middle age--his mother.  

"Aaron!"  

She rushed to him, hands grabbing his shoulders, fingers digging in. Her face loomed over his--blotchy with tears, eyes swollen, hair bedraggled.  

"Say something," she whispered. "Please."  

"I drank too much. Again."   Her arms flew around him, head going to his chest, burrowing in, shoulders convulsing in a silent sob.  

"I prayed it would be you," she whispered. "I know it's not right for a mother to have favorites, but I always hoped that if God chose one of my children for the blessing, I hoped it would be you. And then after . . ." She hiccuped a sob. "I prayed, Aaron.I prayed you'd be the one."  

"What one?" He pulled back to look at her. "I really think I drank too much. Maybe if I go back to sleep--"  

He tried to lie down, but her fingers dug into his shoulders.  

"No! There's no time. Your father wants to seal the coffin. It's been three days. It must be sealed."  

"Seal? Coffin?" Aaron looked down. "I'm sleeping in a coffin?"  

His mother took his hand and pressed it to a spot above her breast. "What do you feel, Aaron?"

   His fingers almost trembled with the beat of her racing heart. Before he could answer, she moved the fingers to his own breast . . . and they went still. 

  "Now what do you feel?" 

  "Noth-- Bloody hell!" He jumped, almost tumbling back into the coffin. "What--"  

"You're alive. A different kind of life, Aaron, but you are alive, and that's all that matters."  

"All that--? I'm not breathing! I don't have a--"  

"You died, and you've been born again. It's a gift of my blood, told to each woman before she weds. Every generation, only a few are blessed. They die, and return to live again . . . to live and live, and nothing can kill them. A blessing beyond measure."  

"So I'm alive?" He chewed his lip, then nodded. "All right. But what do we tell Father?"   Her gaze dropped. "We can't tell him, Aaron. You can't ever see him again." She hugged him again. "I'm so sorry, but he wouldn't understand. What you are . . . they have a name for it. They do not understand it." 

  "What am I?" he asked slowly.  

When his mother didn't answer, he reached up, wrapped his hands around her upper arms, and pulled her away from him, his gaze going to hers.   "Mother, what am I?"  

She wouldn't look him in the eye. "They call it a . . . a vampire, Aaron, but they don't understand--"  

"A vampire?"   "It is not what they think, Aaron. You are not some soulless demon. You are still my son--still as good and as God-fearing a man as you ever were."  

He forced her chin up, to meet her eyes. "And the blood-taking, Mother? Is that a lie, too?"  

"You must feed, yes. On human blood. But it is only feeding, like taking milk from a cow or eggs from a hen. You'll do no harm."  

"So I don't need to kill?" 

  A long hesitation before she hurried on, words tumbling out, almost incomprehensible. "Only once a year, before the anniversary of your death." 

  "And if I do not?"  

Her gaze met his then, eyes blazing. "You must, Aaron. You must!"  

"Kill another person to prolong my own life?" 

  She hesitated again, and the struggle in her eyes sliced him to the core--the conscience of a moral woman at battle with the ferocious instinct of a mother.  

"You can make careful choices," she said softly. "Find those who are dying, and relieve them of their suffering. It is only once a year, Aaron. There are people--many people--who are not long for this earth. Take their lives and do some good with it. HonorGod in that way, and he will understand."

   God? Aaron bit back the word before it flew from his mouth. He suspected God had very little to do with this "blessing," but if his mother had convinced herself that it was so, then he would not destroy her faith by questioning the origin of this taintin her blood. And, as he sat there, holding her, listening to her cry, he knew he would not destroy her hope either. He'd been a loving, loyal son in life, and so he would be in this nonlife. 

  She said he couldn't see his father, which meant she'd expect him to leave. If he were to decide his new life lay in the New World before the year was up, she would understand.  

He had a year. A year of feeding on the blood of men. But if she was right, and it did them no harm, he could stomach that. He would visit her, and feign contentment for her, and before the year was up, he would leave and let her believe he was still walkingthis earth, somewhere. That much he could do for her.    

Aaron slunk through the alley looking for passed-out drunks. Like a stray dog rooting for scraps in the trash. He'd been a vampire for nearly a month now, and it wasn't getting any easier. Instinct showed him how to feed, but he despised every second ofit.  

It didn't seem to have much effect on the humans--his mother had been right about that. Yet skulking through alleys like a scavenger, preying on the weak . . . It made his stomach churn. Or it would, if his stomach could still churn. The only thing hisgut did these days was complain when he wasn't paying it enough attention.  

Continues...

Excerpted from Tales of the Otherworld by Kelley Armstrong Copyright © 2010 by Kelley Armstrong. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 161 )
Rating Distribution

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(96)

4 Star

(45)

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(14)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 163 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 5, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Adored this book!

    Adored this book! This book was right up my alley as I love Kelley Armstrong, have really enjoyed all of her previous books, and am a big fan of short story collections. It's a win-win!

    Several of my favorite characters make appearances, and it's nice to learn more of their history. Enjoyed all eight of the stories included (not sure why the blurb says there are seven), but my favorite two are Bewitched and Beginnings.

    Bewitched gives us the story on how Eve Levine and Kristof Nast met and fell in love. It was nice to see a younger Eve who's not as confident and self-assured as we're used to, and the story gave a believable explanation for how these two total opposites came together.

    Beginnings is similar to Bewitched in that we get the story of how two lovers met and fell in love, only this time it's Elena and Clay. I think that this is the longest story in the book, and it totally rocks! Elena and Clay are one of my favorite couples, and Kelley does a great job of walking us through their initial meeting and eventual courtship.

    The book also includes stories featuring the vampires Aaron and Cassandra, werewolves Logan and Jeremy, Lucas Cortez and Paige Winterbourne, and Savannah Levine Nast. Not a single boring story in the whole bunch!

    Gave this book a 4/5 rating as Kelley did a fantastic job! The characters are old friends, the writing is great, and the stories are all enjoyable! Even better, all proceeds from the sale of this book go to World Literacy of Canada! So the reader gets a great collection of short stories, we learn more about awesome characters, and Kelley gets to support a worthy cause. It's a win-win all around!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 16, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A Treat for the Devoted Reader of the Otherworld Series

    I hesitated in purchasing this book, mainly because I have read every book of the Otherworld Series and was afraid that these short stories would "sound familiar." I can happily report this was not the case. I saw refeshing, new sides of the characters I have come to know and love in this unique world. Clay was sweet and confused, while trying to navigate his feelings about Elena. Full disclosure about the Kristof Nast and Eve Levine relationship finally helped me understand the miracle of Savannah. And any stories, short or long, involving Paige Winterbourne and Lucas Cortez are a must read for me. If you are a devoted fan, be prepared to fall in love with the characters all over again. If you are new to the series, prepare to be caught up in the lives and loves of this original cast of characters who inhabit Otherworld. Enjoy discovering the complete series!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 6, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    How they met, how they married, how they loved!

    Awesome book. Kelley Armstrong fills in the blanks with some very well-written backstories for your favorite Otherworld characters. My favorite story was about how Elena and Clay met, not love at first sight on her part at all. Clay really had to work hard to gain her love. There is an hilarious back story surrounding Paige and Lucas's wedding and Benicio trying to finesse everything. These stories just have it all for anyone who has read the series and even if you haven't they will encourage you to read more. I love Kelley Armstrong's writing style. I think she has the most realistic approach to paranormal romance with the least gimmicks, etc., than any other writer of the genre. This works to make you think just maybe this could happen in our world.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 5, 2010

    If you love Kelley Armstrong and Otherworld - you'll love this book.

    I loved the Clayton and Elena falling in love story - up until the point she got bitten (after which is of coarse already covered in other books) I love reading about how they met and got close and the whys of how she got bitten.

    Lucas and Paige's wedding was another high point.

    Another great thing is that proceeds from this book go to charity. I love that she does that. Great book - I've already read it twice.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 13, 2011

    Highly entertaining.

    I love Kelly Armstrong's books. I particulaarly like her Otherworld series. I wait each time with baited breathe for her next installment of this series. I have even reread her books which is unusual for me as I get extremely bored with a book that I already know the story and the ending. These books are worth your while.

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  • Posted September 29, 2011

    Awesome, as usual!

    I loved the stories of the different characters in Kelley Armstrong's books. My favorites are the ones about Elena and Clayton. Each character is captivating, though. The last two stories about Lucas and Paige really showed how much those two care about and understand each other. They were all terrific! One of my favorite authors.

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  • Posted April 24, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    If You Love Armstrong's Otherworld Books...

    I greatly enjoy Armstrong's Otherworld books. I wouldn't recommend starting with this one if you haven't read them--these are a grouping of short stories, and I think their primary pleasure comes from seeing them fill in the gaps in the histories of some favorite characters. So go read "Bitten" and "Stolen" and "Dime Store Magic" and "Industrial Magic" at least first, then come back and pick up this one. I enjoyed all the stories here, but I think my favorite was the last one, "The Case of El Chupacabra," but then Lucas Cortez and Paige Winterbourne are my favorite Armstrong characters, and I always love it when they show up.

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