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The International Writers Magazine
: Book Review
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Kelley Armstrong – Stolen
A Gemma Williams review
Publisher:Plume Books September 2004 Paperback

Kelley Armstrong’s Stolen explores a female werewolf, a band of supernatural beings, a plot to capture and expose these creatures; all set in present day America. The best news? It works!

Stolen centers around Elena Michaels -the only female werewolf. She is subject to a wolf culture similar to that of ours not so long ago, they view a women’s purpose as purely for sex. We also meet some of her "pack"; Clayton and the enigmatic alpha, Jeremy.

The plot soon turns from focusing on the minutia of the lives of this Werewolf pack, to a meeting of the supernatural - from Witches and Half-Demons to Vampires.

This unlikely assembly strive to prevent a group of scientists undergoing a phoney investigation from capturing and exposing their kind. The real push behind the "investigation" is to allow manipulative, self-centered billionaire Tyrone Winsloe to hunt them to their death in his sick idea of a game.

Our heroine Elena is captured and studied alongside various fantastical creatures- each with unique characters, creating a definite emphatic pull on the reader; be it exasperation at the mischievous Xavier, or empathy for the sweet, albeit stubborn, young witch Savannah. During her escapades in the compound, Elena runs into various troubles, each of which keeps the reader turning the pages ever faster.
Upon final and eventful escape Elena is reunited passionately with Clay, and later -less passionately - with Jeremy and the rest of the group. A plan is set up to make a return to the compound, to rescue the remaining captives as well as destroying all evidence that the operation ever existed; thereby preserving the concealment of these "races".

This fantastical plot is cleverly infiltrated with very human events and emotions- particularly an exploration of her dual nature, the relationship between Elena and Clay, and her position within the pack. At the same time, the writer prods fun at the very genre in which she is writing, with almost comical references to "Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the X-Men". The plot develops too quickly for the reader to become bored or to question the use of such ideas as a witch casting a spell to become invisible.

Thanks to a light, quirky writing style -in which only the minimum information is released to the reader, it leaves us wanting more. Subjects of great tradition and depth can be approached in a modern, easy to read manner. A greater look at the most complex and appealing character, the alpha Jeremy, could have added more depth to the story, and more detail of her specific take on the existence of these supernatural beings could have added a further feel of authenticity. Despite this, Armstrong successfully explores the unbelievable, while making it believable to her enthralled readers. An interesting read, definitely a page turner, written in an inspiringly fresh style. I eagerly await the next in the series!

© Gemma Williams November 2004
Gemma is studying Creative Writing at Portsmouth University in the UK

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