Savannah Levine, the protagonist of the 11th installment in Kelley Armstrong’s Otherworld series, is a powerful young woman with a lot to prove to the strong personalities that fill her life. Introduced earlier in the series as a child, Savannah is the orphaned daughter of a dark witch and a notorious sorcerer. Under the tutelage of her adoptive parents, who run a supernatural detective agency, Savannah has blossomed into an adept magic user, but she has yet to prove that she has the wisdom to wield her powers in a responsible manner and to take on a greater role in the agency.

While her parents are on a long-awaited vacation in Hawaii, a half-demon PI from Seattle offers her the chance to lead an investigation of her own, into the murders of three young women in the small town of Columbus, Washington. There are hints that the murders have a supernatural connection, and the temptation to take a starring role is too great for the impetuous Savannah to refuse.

The town of Columbus, suffering under the weight of economic recession and barely clinging to hopes of a recovery, doesn’t quite know what to make of a gorgeous, iPhone-wielding, motorcycle-driving PI, even if she is forced keep her magical abilities in the shadows; somewhat lacking in empathy for non-supernatural humans, Savannah does little to put them at ease. She quickly begins to peel back the skin of the decaying town to reveal a rich occult undercurrent and a host of colorful suspects for the murders, from the louche and charismatic leader of a cult of cookie-baking young women to the local rich-boy-turned-bad-seed and his frightening wife. Savannah finds new friends, allies and enemies amongst the townspeople.

Waking The Witch is an imaginative blend of the fantasy and detective genres. The plot moves along at a brisk pace, throwing a good number of twists and tragedies at Savannah, who becomes a more likable character as the book goes on and she seems to warm up to everyday humans. As part of a long-running series, there are significant points in the book that will mean much more to fans than to casual readers, but for the most part the story is self-contained. A few plot threads are left dangling at the end to inform the next chapter in Savannah’s story—and intrigue Armstrong’s loyal readers.

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