You know, there’s nothing quite like finishing a completely satisfying story arc. I closed The Reckoning this morning with a sense of fullness, as though author Kelley Armstrong cooked up a really good meal and served it to her readers. The third book in her Darkest Powers universe — though not the last — The Reckoning is, as the title denotes, the culmination of Chloe Saunders and her friends running from the nefarious Edison Group. And Armstrong sets it up in such a way that there are myriad possibilities for story beyond this. She opens up her entire Otherworld universe for the readers, while also wrapping up the specific tale she’s telling about these kids coming into their powers and facing down their enemies.
I guess the best way to articulate it is that Armstrong writes her novels like serialized drama…like a long-running TV show. There is an overlying canon, a hefty cast of “regular” and “recurring” characters, and then arc-driven stories within those confines. I mean…it’s like reading a really well-written soap! (Wow, I just had a revelatory moment. This explains so much about why I’m a fan of her work.) Her writing is incredibly character-driven and each voice is distinct…to the point where you could strip the names from her text and still be able to tell the difference between Chloe, Elena, Lucas, Paige, etc. Her couples don’t become boring just because they’re committed, and she manages to give them organic conflict to keep them interesting and real. And she’s perfectly capable of writing for both adults and teens without dumbing things down. Too many writers think a “teen storyline” means you have to sacrifice depth. Armstrong doesn’t do that. The only differences in how she writes Darkest Powers vs. The Otherworld seem to be cosmetic: The characters are younger, there’s no sex and the books are shorter.
Gosh, I almost wish Armstrong could become the head writer of a new supernatural-themed soap opera…one that would make people forget the goofiness of Passions and Dante’s Cove (both of which I enjoyed but were more camp than drama). But that would mean she’d have no time to write books…and that would be an utter tragedy. So I’ll just have to be content with this talented writer using her Darkest Powers for further literary good!