Stolen by Kelley Armstrong
Published: 2004 (Plume Books)
Series: Women of the Otherworld (2)
Rating: 4 of 5 stars
It was in Bitten, Kelley Armstrong's debut novel, that thirty-year-old Elena Michaels came to terms with her feral appetites and claimed the proud identity of a beautiful, successful woman, and the only living female werewolf.
In Stolen, on a mission for her own elite pack, she is lured into the net of ruthless Internet billionaire Tyrone Winsloe, who has funded a bogus scientific investigation of the other races and their supernatural powers. Kidnapped and studied in his underground lab deep in the Maine woods, these paranormals: witches, vampires, shamans, werewolves are then released and hunted to the death in a real-world video game. But when Winsloe captures Elena, he finally meets his match.
Picking up approximately a year after Bitten left off, Stolen plunges us back into the world of Elena Michaels and her fellow Pack members. Checking out one of the frequent "werewolf sightings" that the Pack investigates, Elena, while being chased through the streets of Pittsburgh, is asked to accept something she feels is implausible: other supernatural creatures exist. I found it very human of Elena to doubt the existence of witches, shamans, and half-demons, a touching reminder of her dual nature, yet at the same time, I was surprised at her unwillingness to believe the impossible. I was, however, very glad to see Kelley Armstrong widening her mythos to include other unearthly beings.
While attending a council meeting, sort of an AA for the supernatural, Elena still maintains her distance from the idea that other otherworldly creatures are alive and well (or in the case of vampire Cassandra, dead and well.) It isn't until she is kidnapped and put behind glass in billionaire Ty Winsloe's lab that Elena realizes she may be in over her head. Even though this book started out slowly for me, by the time Elena woke up in captivity, I was hooked, once again.
Elena does not do well in a cage of any kind. She's a strong enough character that I was not pleased seeing her a prisoner. Separated from her Pack, Elena is totally cut off from the outside world, unless she can accept the help of a witch to communicate with Jeremy, her Alpha. I found myself several times anxious for her, and for her fellow captives, any of whom Tyrone Winsloe is likely to, at any point, decide he is through with, and would like to hunt.
Child-witch Savannah and half-demon Xavier Reese add to the tension. Savannah appears to have mysterious powers beyond her age and ability, and Xavier, despite having joined up with the bad guys, is such a breath of fresh air in this book, that I wanted to thank Kelley Armstrong for writing in his character. (Aside: I have no clue if he shows up again but I sure do hope he does!)
There were a few things I didn't like about this book: the pacing in the beginning was way off, and I found two of the plot twists to be a little too predictable. As well-developed as some of the new characters were, others rubbed me the wrong way; Paige, one of the Coven witches, comes off as insolent and unlikable. She narrates the next book so I am hoping in that one, we will see her become more of a sympathetic character.
What I did like: every bit of Clay and Elena's interaction, limited though it was, and new characters Adam, Savannah, and Xavier. And as I mentioned above, I am thrilled to see other supernaturals brought into play, and their addition handled very well. I am excited to continue this series, and to see where Kelley Armstrong takes these characters. I am a big fan of paranormal romance and I feel like this series is mixing that genre really cleverly with urban fantasy.