Kelley Armstrong’s SPELL BOUND is part of her “Women of the Otherworld” urban fantasy series, and stars Savannah Levine. Savannah is a witch who has demon blood, so she’s grown used to having enormous power; in the previous WAKING THE WITCH, Savannah had offered to give up her power if it would help an innocent young girl be able to live with her grandmother as she ought, because Savannah felt guilty over the part she played in putting the innocent girl’s grandmother behind bars. Well, something, or someone, heard Savannah, and took her up on this bargain within two chapters. This is why the vast majority of SPELL BOUND deals with how well — or badly — Savannah deals with people while her powers are gone.
Of course, it gets around the Otherworld rather fast that Savannah’s powers are gone — suspiciously fast. Savannah has to deal with witch finders and others early on while learning how to work well with others in order to defeat these awful people. While Savannah has powerful friends, including a vampire, a half-demon or two, a necromancer, and a clairvoyant, Savannah isn’t used to “playing well” with others, as she’s always had more than enough power to take care of herself. This is a weakness she must overcome in order to stay alive.
Savannah is a tough, strong, smart woman, but somehow, without her powers, she feels inadequate. That some of the people around her keep telling her to “snap out of it” — these people being a werewolf (Clay), and a half-demon (Adam, her best friend and potential love interest) — doesn’t really help overmuch. Savannah is only twenty-one, and she’s never faced anything remotely like this before. This means Savannah’s story is roughly equivalent to the “hero’s journey” being taken into the unknown. That Savannah is lost without her power (something she’s leaned on her entire life, and allowed to prop up much of her self-esteem and self-worth) just makes the “hero’s journey” all the more fascinating, especially when Savannah’s internal struggle is juxtaposed with the external struggles Savannah’s having in running from the witch finders, etc.
Savannah, while fun, sassy, and interesting, is a heroine with definite flaws; that she can’t easily share the burdens she’s now under is only one of them. And the various adventures she gets into, and out of, are worth reading about even though half the time I wanted to slap Savannah into the next hemisphere.
There are many questions left at the end of SPELL BOUND, but a few of the dangling plotlines are tied up. Plus, in this twelfth novel of the “Otherworld” series, many of Ms. Armstrong’s favorite characters from previous novels and stories are present (including Jeremy the werewolf Alpha, Clay’s wife and fellow werewolf, Elena, and many others) and the table is set for a final, tumultuous battle of some sort to start in book thirteen. All good.
SPELL BOUND is a quick, fun read that delivers a big punch due to the skillful way Ms. Armstrong deals with Savannah’s internal struggles while on the run from various and sundry bad guys. I enjoyed it quite a bit, and believe if you give it a chance, you will, too.
— reviewed by Barb