Bitten: Women Of The Otherworld

Paperback | August 25, 2009

byKelley Armstrong

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An erotically charged thriller, Bitten will awaken the voracious appetite of every reader, as the age-old battle between man and beast, between human and inhuman forces, comes to a head in one small town and within one woman's body.

Book 1 in the Otherworld series.

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From the Publisher

An erotically charged thriller, Bitten will awaken the voracious appetite of every reader, as the age-old battle between man and beast, between human and inhuman forces, comes to a head in one small town and within one woman's body.Book 1 in the Otherworld series.

From the Jacket

“[T]his debut novel from a Canadian writer proves that solid storytelling and confident craftsmanship can rejuvenate one of the hoariest of all horror clichés. … Filled with romance and supernatural intrigue, this book will surely remind readers of Anne Rice’s sophisticated refurbishings of the vampire story.” -- Publishers Weekly“. . ...

KELLEY ARMSTRONG is the internationally bestselling author of Omens and Visions, the first two books in her Cainsville series, the 13-book Women of the Otherworld series and the Nadia Stafford crime novels. She is also the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling young adult trilogies, Darkest Powers and Darkness Rising, and Sea of ...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:432 pages, 8 × 5.16 × 0.87 inPublished:August 25, 2009Publisher:Random House of CanadaLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0307358038

ISBN - 13:9780307358035

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Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Bitten Incredible! This book had me hooked from the start and as I quickly devoured the rest of the Women of the Otherworld series, Kelley Armstrong cemented her place as my favourite author.
Date published: 2016-04-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing Serie! I read all the books from Women of the Otherworld and extra stories. Just an amazing serie of characters. Started another serie from Kelley Armstrong (darkest powers) which is just as great and has the supernaturals live in the same world. A few references are made through the books.
Date published: 2014-12-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing Serie! I read all the books from Women of the Otherworld and extra stories. Just an amazing serie of characters. Started another serie from Kelley Armstrong (darkest powers) which is just as great and has the supernaturals live in the same world. A few references are made through the books.
Date published: 2014-12-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Loved it! This is the first book in the series. I did find it a bit slow to get into at first, but the further I got into it the more and more I just couldn't put it down.
Date published: 2014-10-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great book by a great author To be honest, I was a little worried when beginning to read Bitten by Kelley Armstrong. Not only is it a very long series but it was also classified under the Horror section at Chapters. With my marks being sent to universities within the next couple of months, if I commit to another series, especially a horror series, I will never get any homework done! Much to my surprise, I didn’t find this novel scary at all and it personally didn’t fit my definition of horror – which is a good thing since I get scared easily. When I first started reading, I was a little confused because so many people were introduced at once. I had a bit of trouble remembering who was who. However, once the story began to move at a faster pace, I was able to differentiate between the different characters and began to enjoy the story. Lately I have noticed that I enjoy stories focused around werewolves, fallen angels, Nephilim and characters of that sort and so I really enjoyed reading this story. Usually I get bored if a novel has too much description and not enough dialogue. However, with Bitten, I found that all of the description was needed and was really what made this a good story. I loved the idea behind the story and the ending. Although cliffhangers are good at times, I am very happy with how this ended and would have been disappointed had it ended any differently. The ending was perfect! For the time being, I will not be reading the rest of the series because I simply do not have the time to commit to 14 other books but I will definitely be continuing the Otherworld series at some point soon (hopefully sooner than later)!
Date published: 2014-01-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Favourite adult series This book quickly made me fall in love with the Women of the Otherworld series. Great detail, get story. Fantastic for fantasy loving adults.
Date published: 2012-07-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Awesome read! The writing and detail in this book is amazing! I can't wait to read all in this series. This book gives so much background into the lives of the pack and how they became this way. Excellent all around.
Date published: 2011-08-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of my all time favourites. This book was my first foray into the steamy world of the supernatural, and I have never looked back. Probably the best that has ever come from Kelley Armstrong, Bitten is a novel I can go back to time and time again and never feel anything less than satisfied. Elena is a phenomenal heroine and her relationship with Clay is just delicious. Clay is just delicious in general. A wonderful read for anyone who has a taste for the supernatural.
Date published: 2011-04-07
Rated 2 out of 5 by from "thought it would have better" i was at coles and the sales lady highly recommended the novel and the entire series. i'd seen the series' covers before, but never really paid much attention. the series was on sale and after all the ranting and raving i decided to buy the 1st and 2nd novels. i have not read the 2nd one yet. this one was good, but it was not great. i was expecting a lot more. i read the book in a week. though it does have action i was expecting it to have more twists and suspense. it is in the horror section and i didn't find anything scary in the book. i started another series, because it didn't grab my interest enough. i will start stolen as soon as finish the series i started. i'm hoping stolen will grab me longer for the entire series. on the flip side i really like elena. she is a great character & narrator.
Date published: 2010-12-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Read it Again, and Again and Again It is not often a friend will suggest a book that not only can't be put down, but that I can read multiple times and enjoy it as if I am reading it for the first time, again. Kelley Armstrong weaves a story of intrigue, unrequited love, lust, loyalty, and mystery so effectively she leaves the reader breathless. Elena is the strong female lead that women want to read about, she has since left her "home" but is called back to help when terror strikes! Through plot twists and turns the reader is left madly flipping pages, and reading at a pace their eyes cannot keep up with. Clayton is the archaically strong male, with an unsually modern need to wait for Elena to forgive him of past transgretions, transgretions that could either make or break is innocence in Elenas eyes. Purchase this book and be prepared to drink a lot of tea (or coffee) while sitting until the last page is turned!
Date published: 2010-11-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing I loved this book!! I have to say Kelly Armstrong is one of my favorite authors. Her writing is creative and imaginative. The plot is great with lots of twists.This book does not disappoint.
Date published: 2010-06-05
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Tasty Fluff I was pleasantly surprised to find that this author was Canadian as it helped me fill my Canadian quotient without being overly deep. This book centers around the only female werewolf in existence and the complicated relationship she has with the man who changed her. Trying to avoid what appears to be her destiny she leaves her pack and attempts to develop an ordinary life in Toronto, only to have it destroyed by a call back to the pack. The characters in this book are likeable, it's surprisingly long, I didn't think a 400+ page werewolf romance would hold my attention, but it did. This book isn't going to change the way you think, but it will likely entertain you for a few hours, it's also a little more grown-up than some of the vampire/werewolf stuff floating around out there. I'd recommend it for a light read but I wouldn't read it again. I'm currently debating on reading the rest of the series.
Date published: 2010-04-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I'm hooked My sister told me about Kelley Armstrong and I'm glad she did.
Date published: 2010-04-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Awesome Otherworld! Of all the recent Fantasy/Thriller novels flooding our world, Kelley Armstrong's "Bitten", is definitely one of the better ones. It is not fussy or overwritten and there is nothing amateur about it. I wanted to read this book. As I was browsing through my library I came across two more of Kelley Armstrong's books that I had forgotten I owned. Shame on me. They are now on my TBR pile.
Date published: 2010-04-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Impressed! This particular book I have read, and I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed it. I’m not much one for the fantasy type genres but I took a liking to this book as soon as I hit the first page. The author Kelley Armstrong a Canadian native and lives here in Ontario with her family. Knowing this is what actually really prompted me to purchase the book in the first place. This books main character is a very high strong independent woman named Elena who is a journalist living in Toronto as well as the only female werewolf in the world, that being said the book has a very intense, sexy, and powerful feel to it. It is most definitely different from most books in this genre due to the fact that the character is an independent female and the co characters are men. It is very refreshing to read such a thriller that isn’t overly dark and has a great amount of quirkiness and sarcasm. Not only that but it also touches on the every day struggles that women have day to day in the work force for a large company as well as trying to balance a healthy romantic relationship. All in all at the end of the reading day this particular book is the perfect amount of darkness, romance, comedy, and hardship all rolled into one and I would most definitely recommended it to anyone who enjoys reading. I myself had trouble putting the book down!
Date published: 2010-03-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Absolutely Great!!! I got this book for xmas and didn't read it until a couple of days ago and im wishing i have read it sooner, Great book keeps u wanting alot more, never boring at all, not like some books where they get boring in the middle this one just kept getting better and better
Date published: 2010-03-18
Rated 1 out of 5 by from dislike well i got this book after reading all the good reviews but i couldnt get into it, i kept putting it down. I got it a very long time ago and have yet to finish the last few chapters. It just bored me. i didnt like or dislike any of the characters, I didnt feel anything for them. Which is too bad, I hoped i would like it but it just didnt click with me.
Date published: 2010-03-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from EXCELLENT!! I really enjoyed this book. I love that its by a Canadian author....I also LOVE that they go to New Brunswick!!!! REPRESENT!!! Haha. The book was very suspenseful the whole time. It reminded me of The Host except 100 times better and with no aliens. But the captive thing. At least in this one, unlike the host, things actually happened in most chapters, not just threatened to happen or talked about maybe happening. Does that make sense? I had a hard time putting it down. I am definitly finishing the rest of the Women of the Otherworld series. Started Dime Store Magic this morning. Great book!
Date published: 2010-03-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Hungry Like a Wolf Bitten is the first book in the Women of the Otherworld series by Kelley Armstrong. Elena is the world's only female werewolf in existence. She lives in Toronto, has a great job and an amazing boyfriends. Besides changing to wolf at times, she lives a very normal 'human' life. Elena is called one day by the pack's alpha, Jeremy, to return to Stonehaven. Although Elena doesn't want to go, she feels an obligation to Jeremy. She has left the pack behind but does come when summoned. Elena finds out that people are being attacked by wild dogs in Stonehaven. She knows, of course, that they are werewolf’s attacks. She is asked to help find out who is doing the killings. She wants to help but also wants to go back home to her boyfriend and life in Toronto. To make matters worse, she also needs to see Clay. He was the man she loved, the man she was going to marry but he betrayed her in the worse possible way. She needs to come to terms with her wolf, her past and future while trying to help the pack out. This was an amazing book. Kelley Armstrong has a great writing style. I don't usually like werewolf books, but this one was really great. I love Elena's character and how she tries to deal with her past. The chemistry between Clay and Elena was really hot. It felt natural and real. Her betrayal, resentment, hate and love for this man had me on an emotional roller coaster. Great first book in this series. I highly recommend it!
Date published: 2010-02-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Promising Debut This was my first strictly werewolf book and I found myself really getting into it for the most part. There were some moments I found the story to be a bit slow but overall it was great. I hope the rest of the series is just as good if not better.
Date published: 2009-12-24
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Could Have Had More Bite!!!! So this is my first book by Kelley Armstrong and I know I like it, bit I feel I should love it. It was a well written book, with characters that are so well developed. Yet I found the character of Elena a bit annoying at times. So here is the gist of the plot we meet Elena a woman trying to fit into the human world. Coming from a messed up childhood all she wants is normalcy and a mundane life. Things change for Elena when she is Bitten by someone who she loved completely. She is turned into a werewolf, and she is also the first and only female werewolf. Wolves can be made but not all survive. So here is this woman who is not only a wolf but is living to tell the tale. She has emotional struggles about where she fits in; wanting to be human but knowing that a few times a week she has to go through her change. Elena returns home to The Pack after some suspicious calls from her pack brother. This is the last thing Elena wants, to be thrown back to the wolves. She fears coming face to face with that man that she loved and was betrayed by. All her anger is for him because he changed her from an ordinary woman to that of a female wolf. We meet Clay who is beautiful by the way, his description makes his looks angelic but he is far from that. Under all that good looks is the most dangerous wolf. A ruthless killer with no understanding of humanity yet he tries to conform for Elena. The other wolves are awesome, the father figure who is the Alpha, Nick the cute and frisky best friend of Clay. A well balance crew of characters. So someone is out to destroy the pack. A group of wolves called Mutts, wolves who are not apart of the Pack. Who live their lives as the lowest of lows. They have come to the town where the pack lives and are trying to destroy the foundation of home that they have built. With huge dog sightings and bodies turning up all over town, something has to be done. Action is huge part of this book, definitely not a boring read. I love how the wolves maul humans, so sick and awesome. It took me awhile to get into this book, very slow in the beginning for me, but after awhile it picked up speed and moved along nicely. The reason is because I could not like the character of Elena; her procrastination became annoying after awhile. The whole I want him but then I don’t was driving me crazy. Plus I was waiting fir her to express her anger on the person who bit her. That showdown never came just a few arguments and then some sex in the bush. Still enjoyed it and will continue the series. I am expecting some growth from Elena. On the PL scale it’s a 2 a few love scenes but very mild. Sexy but mild.
Date published: 2009-12-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from AWESOME! If you like Twilight or the Sookie Stackhouse novels, read this series! I've only read the first so far but it was awesome! Written 4 years before Twilight was and is definitely less for the teen generation. Am going to buy the 2nd in the series today!
Date published: 2009-10-13
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good I don't usually read werewolf stuff but this was really good. I already have the second and I still have 30 pages of bitten to read.
Date published: 2009-09-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing, Amazing Book!!!! I bought this book on a recommendation from a friend. I loved Kelley's dark powers series I had very high expectations for this book and reading this book in only two days I have to say that I LOVED THIS BOOK!!!! I could not put it down. I highly recommend this book. It had romance, action, mystery, self-discovery and the fantasy that I have come to love. Kelley takes us into a very different world of werewolves. Violent, dark and often wittingly funny, Bitten is a very original novel that takes the werewolf legend and puts some much needed life back into the genre. A must read for any fantasy lover.
Date published: 2009-09-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very believable werewolves This is a first novel in a collection called 'Women of the Otherworld'. . Most werewolves are male and the result of the mating of a male werewolf with a human female. Elena joined the ranks after being bitten and amazingly surviving the transformation. She seems to be the only female werewolf in North America that her pack is aware of. Lucky for her, she has been adopted in a pack lead by the Alpha, Jeremy Danvers, who live near Syracuse, New York. . From the day of her 'bite' Elena has rebelled against being a werewolf and having to live within its confines. She desperately wants back her human life with all the details of love, family and job. She finds this increasing hard to do when Jeremy calls and says its urgent she return to the pack. They need her help. . Its interesting to meet the pack members and learn their histories, specially that of Clayton who was found as a child living alone in a swamp in Florida many years earlier. The pack functions together as a family with a very big secret that must be maintained at all costs. What is different is that they all defer to the Alpha and would never questions him, well, with the exception of Elena who was not raised in the pack. . I loved reading how Elena struggled to maintain her human ties while distancing herself from the pack. She still wanted the 'family' she hadn't had since her parents died when she was quite young. She kept being drawn back to the pack by her werewolf nature and to ensure her survival and ultimately that of the pack, she had to discover her true self. . The subtitle may be "Women of the Otherworld" but the majority of the novel is filled with totally ripped men, OK, they are werewolves but don't let that interfere with your enjoyment. . Canadian Author Kelley Armstrong has created a world in which werewolves and human live side by side. This could be peaceful except for a number of 'mutts' who wantonly continue to kill humans. Shame that there is always someone who wants to spoil it for everyone else. . This world continues throughout the 'Women of the Otherworld' series as well as the 'Darkest Powers' series. It seems that new characters appear in each book. I'll have to read more to find out for sure. Be sure to visit Kelley's website for full details on each book and how the series interact with each other. .
Date published: 2009-06-28

Extra Content

Read from the Book

I HAVE TO.I've been fighting it all night. I'm going to lose. My battle is as futile as a woman feeling the first pangs of labor and deciding it's an inconvenient time to give birth. Nature wins out. It always does.It's nearly two a.m., too late for this foolishness and I need my sleep. Four nights spent cramming to meet a deadline have left me exhausted. It doesn't matter. Patches of skin behind my knees and elbows have been tingling and now begin to burn. My heart beats so fast I have to gulp air. I clench my eyes shut, willing the sensations to stop but they don't.Philip is sleeping beside me. He's another reason why I shouldn't leave, sneaking out in the middle of the night again and returning with a torrent of lame excuses. He's working late tomorrow. If I can just wait one more day. My temples begin to throb. The burning sensation in my skin spreads down my arms and legs. The rage forms a tight ball in my gut and threatens to explode.I've got to get out of here-I don't have a lot of time left.Philip doesn't stir when I slip from the bed. There's a pile of clothing tucked underneath my dresser so I won't risk the squeaks and groans of opening drawers and closets. I pick up my keys, clasping my fist around them so they don't jangle, ease open the door, and creep into the hallway.Everything's quiet. The lights seem dimmed, as if overpowered by the emptiness. When I push the elevator button, it creaks out a complaint at being disturbed at so ungodly an hour. The first floor and lobby are equally empty. People who can afford the rent this close to downtown Toronto are comfortably asleep by this time.My legs itch as well as hurt and I curl my toes to see if the itching stops. It doesn't. I look down at the car keys in my hand. It's too late to drive to a safe place-the itching has crystallized into a sharp burn. Keys in my pocket, I stride onto the streets, looking for a quiet place to Change. As I walk, I monitor the sensation in my legs, tracing its passage to my arms and the back of my neck. Soon. Soon. When my scalp starts to tingle, I know I have walked as far as I can so I search for an alley. The first one I find has been claimed by two men squeezed together inside a tattered big-screen TV box. The next alley is empty. I hurry to the end and undress quickly behind a barricade of trash bins, hide the clothes under an old newspaper. Then I start the Change.My skin stretches. The sensation deepens and I try to block the pain. Pain. What a trivial word-agony is better. One doesn't call the sensation of being flayed alive "painful." I inhale deeply and focus my attention on the Change, dropping to the ground before I'm doubled over and forced down. It's never easy-perhaps I'm still too human. In the struggle to keep my thoughts straight, I try to anticipate each phase and move my body into position-head down, on all fours, arms and legs straight, feet and hands flexed, and back arched. My leg muscles knot and convulse. I gasp and strain to relax. Sweat breaks out, pouring off me in streams, but the muscles finally relent and untwist themselves. Next comes the ten seconds of hell that used to make me swear I'd rather die than endure this again. Then it's over.Changed.I stretch and blink. When I look around, the world has mutated to an array of colors unknown to the human eye, blacks and browns and grays with subtle shadings that my brain still converts to blues and greens and reds. I lift my nose and inhale. With the Change, my already keen senses sharpen even more. I pick up scents of fresh asphalt and rotting tomatoes and window-pot mums and day-old sweat and a million other things, mixing together in an odor so overwhelming I cough and shake my head. As I turn, I catch distorted fragments of my reflection in a dented trash can. My eyes stare back at me. I curl my lips back and snarl at myself. White fangs flash in the metal.I am a wolf, a 130-pound wolf with pale blond fur. The only part of me that remains are my eyes, sparking with a cold intelligence and a simmering ferocity that could never be mistaken for anything but human.I look around, inhaling the scents of the city again. I'm nervous here. It's too close, too confined; it reeks of human spoor. I must be careful. If I'm seen, I'll be mistaken for a dog, a large mixed breed, perhaps a husky and yellow Labrador mix. But even a dog my size is cause for alarm when it's running loose. I head for the back of the laneway and seek a path through the underbelly of the city.My brain is dulled, disoriented not by my change of form but by the unnaturalness of my surroundings. I can't get my bearings and the first alley I go down turns out to be the one I'd encountered in human form, the one with the two men in the faded Sony box. One of them is awake now. He's tugging the remnants of a filth-encrusted blanket between his fingers as if he can stretch it large enough to cover himself against the cold October night. He looks up and sees me. His eyes widen. He starts to shrink back, then stops himself. He says something. His voice is crooning, the musical, exaggerated tones people use with infants and animals. If I concentrated, I could make out the words, but there's no point. I know what he's saying, some variation of "nice doggy," repeated over and over in a variety of inflections. His hands are outstretched, palms out to ward me off, the physical language contradicting the vocal. Stay back-nice doggy-stay back. And people wonder why animals don't understand them.I can smell the neglect and waste rising from his body. It smells like weakness, like an aged deer driven to the fringe of the herd, prime pickings for predators. If I were hungry, he'd smell like dinner. Fortunately, I'm not hungry yet, so I don't have to deal with the temptation, the conflict, the revulsion. I snort, condensation trumpeting from my nostrils, then turn and lope back up the alley.Ahead is a Vietnamese restaurant. The smell of food is embedded in the very wood frame of the building. On a rear addition, an exhaust fan turns slowly, clicking with each revolution as one blade catches the metal screen casing. Below the fan a window is open. Faded sunflower-print curtains billow out in the night breeze. I can hear people inside, a room full of people, grunting and whistling in sleep. I want to see them. I want to stick my muzzle in the open window and look inside. A werewolf can have a lot of fun with a roomful of unprotected people.I start to creep forward but a sudden crackle and hiss stops me. The hiss softens, then is drowned out by a man's voice, sharp, his words snapped off like icicles. I turn my head each way, radar searching for the source. He's farther down the street. I abandon the restaurant and go to him. We are curious by nature.He's standing in a three-car parking lot wedged at the end of a narrow passage between buildings. He holds a walkie-talkie to his ear and leans one elbow against a brick wall, casual but not resting. His shoulders are relaxed. His gaze goes nowhere. He is confident in his place, that he has a right to be here and little to fear from the night. The gun dangling from his belt probably helps. He stops talking, jabs a button, and slams the walkie-talkie into its holster. His eyes scan the parking lot once, taking inventory and seeing nothing requiring his attention. Then he heads deeper into the alley maze. This could be amusing. I follow.My nails click against the pavement. He doesn't notice. I pick up speed, darting around trash bags and empty boxes. Finally, I'm close enough. He hears the steady clicking behind him and stops. I duck behind a Dumpster, peer around the corner. He turns and squints into the darkness. After a second he starts forward. I let him get a few steps away, then resume the pursuit. This time when he stops, I wait one extra second before diving for cover. He lets out a muffled oath. He's seen something-a flash of motion, a shadow flickering, something. His right hand slips to his gun, caressing the metal, then pulling back, as if the reassurance is enough. He hesitates, then looks up and down the alley, realizing he is alone and uncertain what to do about it. He mutters something, then continues walking, quicker this time.As he walks, his eyes flick from side to side, wariness treading the border of alarm. I inhale deeply, picking up only wisps of fear, enough to make my heart pound, but not enough to send my brain spinning out of control. He's safe quarry for a stalking game. He won't run. I can suppress most of my instincts. I can stalk him without killing him. I can suffer the first pangs of hunger without killing him. I can watch him pull his gun without killing him. Yet if he runs, I won't be able to stop myself. That's a temptation I can't fight. If he runs, I will chase. If I chase, either he'll kill me or I'll kill him.As he turns the corner down a connecting alley, he relaxes. All has been silent behind him. I creep from my hiding place, shifting my weight to the back of my foot pads to muffle the sound of my nails. Soon I am only a few feet behind him. I can smell his aftershave, almost masking the natural scent of a long day's work. I can see his white socks appearing and disappearing between his shoes and pant legs. I can hear his breathing, the slight elevation in tempo betraying the fact that he's walking faster than usual. I ease forward, coming close enough that I could lunge if I want to and knock him to the ground before he even thought to reach for his gun. His head jerks up. He knows I'm there. He knows something is there. I wonder if he will turn. Does he dare to look, to face something he can't see or hear, but can only sense? His hand slides to his gun, but he doesn't turn. He walks faster. Then he swings back to the safety of the street.I follow him to the end and observe from the darkness. He strides forward, keys in hand, to a parked cruiser, unlocks it, and hops inside. The car roars and squeals from the curb. I watch the receding taillights and sigh. Game over. I won.That was nice but it wasn't nearly enough to satisfy me. These city backstreets are too confining. My heart is thudding with unspent excitement. My legs are aching with built-up energy. I must run.A wind gusts from the south, bringing the sharp tang of Lake Ontario with it. I think of heading to the beach, imagine running along the stretch of sand, feeling the icy water slapping against my paws, but it's not safe. If I want to run, I must go to the ravine. It's a long way, but I have little choice unless I plan to skulk around human-smelling alleyways for the rest of the night. I swing to the northwest and begin the journey.Nearly a half hour later, I'm standing at the crest of a hill. My nose twitches, picking up the vestiges of an illegal leaf fire smoldering in a nearby yard. The wind bristles through my fur, chill, nearly cold, invigorating. Above me, traffic thunders across the overpass. Below is sanctuary, a perfect oasis in the middle of the city. I leap forward, throwing myself off. At last I'm running. My legs pick up the rhythm before I'm halfway down the ravine. I close my eyes for a second and feel the wind slice across my muzzle. As my paws thump against the hard earth, tiny darts of pain shoot up my legs, but they make me feel alive, like jolting awake after an overlong sleep. The muscles contract and extend in perfect harmony. With each stretch comes an ache and a burst of physical joy. My body is thanking me for the exercise, rewarding me with jolts of near-narcotic adrenaline. The more I run, the lighter I feel, the pain falling free as if my paws are no longer striking the ground. Even as I race along the bottom of the ravine, I feel like I'm still running downhill, gaining energy instead of expending it. I want to run until all the tension in my body flies away, leaving nothing but the sensations of the moment. I couldn't stop if I wanted to. And I don't want to.Dead leaves crackle under my paws. Somewhere in the forest an owl hoots softly. It has finished its hunting and rests contented, not caring who knows it's around. A rabbit bolts out of a thicket and halfway across my path, then realizes its mistake and zooms back into the undergrowth. I keep running. My heart pounds. Against my rising body heat, the air feels ice-cold, stinging as it storms through my nostrils and into my lungs. I inhale, savoring the shock of it hitting my insides. I'm running too fast to smell anything. Bits of scents flutter through my brain in a jumbled montage that smells of freedom. Unable to resist, I finally skid to a halt, throw my head back, and howl. The music pours up from my chest in a tangible evocation of pure joy. It echoes through the ravine and soars to the moonless sky, letting them all know I'm here. I own this place! When I'm done, I drop my head, panting with exertion. I'm standing there, staring down into a scattering of yellow and red maple leaves, when a sound pierces my self-absorption. It's a growl, a soft, menacing growl. There's a pretender to my throne.I look up to see a brownish yellow dog standing a few meters away. No, not a dog. My brain takes a second, but it finally recognizes the animal. A coyote. The recognition takes a second because it's unexpected. I've heard there are coyotes in the city, but have never encountered one. The coyote is equally confused. Animals don't know what to make of me. They smell human, but see wolf and, just when they decide their nose is tricking them, they look into my eyes and see human. When I encounter dogs, they either attack or turn tail and run. The coyote does neither. It lifts its muzzle and sniffs the air, then bristles and pulls its lips back in a drawn-out growl. It's half my size, scarcely worth my notice. I let it know this with a lazy "get lost" growl and a shake of my head. The coyote doesn't move. I stare at it. The coyote breaks the gaze-lock first.I snort, toss my head again, and slowly turn away. I'm halfway turned when a flash of brown fur leaps at my shoulder. Diving to the side, I roll out of the way, then scramble to my feet. The coyote snarls. I give a serious growl, a canine "now you're pissing me off." The coyote stands its ground. It wants a fight. Good.My fur rises on end, my tail bushing out behind me. I lower my head between my shoulder bones and lay my ears flat. My lips pull back and I feel the snarl tickling up through my throat then reverberating into the night. The coyote doesn't back down. I crouch and I'm about to lunge when something hits me hard in the shoulder, throwing me off balance. I stumble, then twist to face my attacker. A second coyote, gray-brown, hangs from my shoulder, fangs sunk to the bone. With a roar of rage and pain, I buck up and throw my weight to the side. As the second coyote flies free, the first launches itself at my face. Ducking my head, I catch it in the throat, but my teeth clamp down on fur instead of flesh and it squirms away. It tries to back off for a second lunge, but I leap at it, backing it into a tree. It rears up, trying to get out of my way. I slash for its throat. This time I get my grip. Blood spurts in my mouth, salty and thick. The coyote's mate lands on my back. My legs buckle. Teeth sink into the loose skin beneath my skull. Fresh pain arcs through me. Concentrating hard, I keep my grip on the first coyote's throat. I steady myself, then release it for a split second, just long enough to make the fatal slash and tear. As I pull back, blood sprays into my eyes, blinding me. I swing my head hard, ripping out the coyote's throat. Once I feel it go limp, I toss it aside, then throw myself on the ground and roll over. The coyote on my back yips in surprise and releases its hold. I jump up and turn in the same motion, ready to take this other animal out of the game, but it scrambles up and dives into the brush. With a flash of wire-brush tail, it's gone. I look at the dead coyote. Blood streams from its throat, eagerly lapped up by the dry earth below. A tremor runs through me, like the final shudder of sated lust. I close my eyes and shiver. Not my fault. They attacked me first. The ravine has gone quiet, echoing the calm that floods through me. Not so much as a cricket chirps. The world is dark and silent and sleeping.I try to examine and clean my wounds, but they are out of reach. I stretch and assess the pain. Two deep cuts, both bleeding only enough to mat my fur. I'll live. I turn and start the trip out of the ravine. In the alley I Change then yank my clothes on and scurry to the sidewalk like a junkie caught shooting up in the shadows. Frustration fills me. It shouldn't end like this, dirty and furtive, amidst the garbage and filth of the city. It should end in a clearing in the forest, clothes abandoned in some thicket, stretched out naked, feeling the coolness of the earth beneath me and the night breeze tickling my bare skin. I should be falling asleep in the grass, exhausted beyond all thought, with only the miasma of contentedness floating through my mind. And I shouldn't be alone. In my mind, I can see the others, lying around me in the grass. I can hear the familiar snores, the occasional whisper and laugh. I can feel warm skin against mine, a bare foot hooked over my calf, twitching in a dream of running. I can smell them: their sweat, their breath, mingling with the scent of blood, smears from a deer killed in the chase. The image shatters and I am staring into a shopwindow, seeing nothing but myself reflected back. My chest tightens in a loneliness so deep and so complete I can't breathe.I turn quickly and lash out at the nearest object. A streetlamp quavers and rings with the blow. Pain sears down my arm. Welcome to reality-changing in alleyways and creeping back to my apartment. I am cursed to live between worlds. On the one side there is normalcy. On the other, there is a place where I can be what I am with no fear of reprisals, where I can commit murder itself and scarcely raise the eyebrows of those around me, where I am even encouraged to do so to protect the sanctity of that world. But I left and I can't return. I won't return.As I walk to the apartment, my anger blisters the pavement with every step. A woman curled up under a pile of dirty blankets peers out as I pass and instinctively shrinks back into her nest. As I round the corner, two men step out and size up my prospects as prey. I resist the urge to snarl at them, but just barely. I walk faster and they seem to decide I'm not worth chasing. I shouldn't be here. I should be home in bed, not prowling downtown Toronto at four a.m. A normal woman wouldn't be here. It's yet another reminder that I'm not normal. Not normal. I look down the darkened street and I can read a billet on a telephone post fifty feet off. Not normal. I catch a whiff of fresh bread from a bakery starting production miles away. Not normal. I stop by a storefront, grab a bar over the windows, and flex my biceps. The metal groans in my hand. Not normal. Not normal. I chant the words in my head, flagellating myself with them. The anger only grows.Outside my apartment door, I stop and inhale deeply. I mustn't wake Philip. And if I do, I mustn't let him see me like this. I don't need a mirror to know what I look like: skin taut, color high, eyes incandescent with the rage that always seems to follow a Change now. Definitely not normal.When I finally enter the apartment, I hear his measured breathing from the bedroom. Still asleep. I'm nearly to the bathroom when his breathing catches."Elena?"His voice is a sleep-stuffed croak."Just going to the washroom." I try to slip past the doorway, but he's sitting up, peering nearsightedly at me. He frowns."Fully dressed?" he says."I went out." A moment of silence. He runs a hand through his dark hair and sighs."It's not safe. Damn it, Elena. We've discussed this. Wake me up and I'll go with you.""I need to be alone. To think.""It's not safe.""I know. I'm sorry."I creep into the bathroom, spending longer than necessary. I pretend to use the toilet, wash my hands with enough water to fill a Jacuzzi, then find a fingernail that needs elaborate filing attention. When I finally decide Philip has fallen back asleep, I head for the bedroom. The bedside lamp is on. He's propped on his pillow, glasses in place. I hesitate in the doorway. I can't bring myself to cross the threshold, to go and crawl into bed with him. I hate myself for it, but I can't do it. The memory of the night lingers and I feel out of place here.When I don't move, Philip shifts his legs over the side of the bed and sits up. "I didn't mean to snap," he says. "I worry. I know you need your freedom and I'm trying-"He stops and rubs his hand across his mouth. His words slice through me. I know he doesn't mean them as a reprimand, but they are a reminder that I'm screwing this up, that I'm fortunate to have found someone as patient and understanding as Philip, but I'm wearing through that patience at breakneck speed and all I seem capable of doing is standing back and waiting for the final crash. "I know you need your freedom," he says again. "But there has to be some other way. Maybe you could go out in the morning, early. If you prefer night, we could drive down to the lake. You could walk around. I could sit in the car and keep an eye on you. Maybe I could walk with you. Stay twenty paces behind or something." He manages a wry smile. "Or maybe not. I'd probably get picked up by the cops, the middle-aged guy stalking the beautiful young blonde." He pauses, then leans forward. "That's your cue, Elena. You're supposed to remind me that forty-one is far from middle-aged.""We'll work something out," I say.We can't, of course. I have to run under the cover of night and I have to do it alone. There is no compromise.As he sits on the edge of the bed, watching me, I know we're doomed. My only hope is to make this relationship so otherwise perfect that Philip might come to overlook our one insurmountable problem. To do that, my first step should be to go to him, crawl in bed, kiss him and tell him I love him. But I can't. Not tonight. Tonight I'm something else, something he doesn't know and couldn't understand. I don't want to go to him like this."I'm not tired," I say. "I might as well stay up. Do you want breakfast?"He looks at me. Something in his expression falters and I know I've failed-again. But he doesn't say anything. He pulls his smile back in place. "Let's go out. Someplace in this city has to be open this early. We'll drive around until we find it. Drink five cups of coffee and watch the sun come up. Okay?"I nod, not trusting myself to speak."Shower first?" he says."Or flip for it?""You go ahead."He kisses my cheek as he passes. I wait until I hear the shower running, then head for the kitchen.Sometimes I get so hungry.From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

NATIONAL BESTSELLER“This debut novel from a Canadian writer proves that solid storytelling and confident craftsmanship can rejuvenate one of the hoariest of all horror clichés. … Filled with romance and supernatural intrigue, this book will surely remind readers of Anne Rice’s sophisticated refurbishings of the vampire story.” Publishers Weekly"As smooth as cream all the way, sure to gain fans.” Kirkus Reviews“An impressive debut thriller...Kelley Armstrong is very good on the sheer exhilaration of shape-changing, of running on four feet through forests, suburban greenery and urban back alleys.” Amazon UK