I just reread The Awakening, by Kelley Armstrong, in preparation for the release of book three in her Darkest Powers series, The Reckoning. And I love her world-building so hard, I could marry it. I’ve always been a sucker for a good expanded universe, and Armstrong has a beautifully crafted one that links Darkest Powers with her adult novels, The Otherworld.
You don’t have to read both series, but if you do, you basically get fun little Easter eggs! Minor characters from The Awakening show up in Frostbitten. News of Clay Danvers’ antics with the mutt and the chainsaw from The Otherworld has made it to Darkest Powers, and there is a vague reference to a character having had a child with a sorcerer because she’d heard of another witch who’d done so. That other witch, of course, is Eve Levine (Haunted).
It’s just really neat to be “in on the joke,” and to feel like you’re reading about a fleshed out society…even if the two sets of novels are aimed at different audiences. The only thing that mars that cohesiveness is the villainous entity in Darkest Powers: the Edison Group. As someone who knows how on the ball the groups in the adult novels are — whether it’s the Council, the Cabals or the Pack — I just can’t believe such a shady organization would be operating unchecked, in Buffalo…so close to the Pack’s base in Syracuse. So you really have to suspend disbelief to allow Chloe Saunders and her friends to be the characters facing down this Big Nasty Evil instead of, say, Elena (Bitten) or Paige (Dime Store Magic).
But Armstrong is so good, so consistent, that I’m perfectly willing to suspend disbelief. She’s written over thirteen novels and countless short stories and has yet to go off the Laurell K. Hamilton deep end. And by my “reckoning,” that’s pretty damn awesome.