Jessica's May Pick - Bitten (2001)
It’s confession time…
I love horror literature! I devour spooky stories and horror novels by Shirley Jackson, Bram Stoker, Stephen King, Clive Barker, Grady Hendrix and more. However, growing up I wasn’t allowed to have these types of novels in our home. Once, my stepmother found a copy of Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire in our house and I definitely got in trouble for this. So while I craved reading more adult horror novels, I was limited to the likes of R.L. Stine's Goosebumps, Fear Street series, and Christopher Pike. It was easier to get these novels into the house and fill the need to be spooked. Unfortunately, during my university years, my reading for pleasure and relaxation became less and less because I was working towards achieving my Masters in History. For the times I needed something that was light to read and needed a break from my textbooks is where I entered the world of Paranormal Fantasy and Romance for young adults.
I became an avid reader of the works of Patricia Briggs, Laurell K. Hamilton, Kim Harrison and Kelley Armstrong. So much so that I almost owned every single one of their books and was always keeping myself updated on when the next one was released. These easy to read books satisfied that paranormal itch and I also got to indulge in otherworldly romances with vampires, witches, necromancers, demons and werewolves.
One of my favourites was Canadian author Kelley Armstrong who wrote the Women of the Otherworld series. These novels were focused around particular supernatural women who were either witches, necromancers, werewolves, demons, and more, trying to exist in our “normal” everyday world. I had discovered Kelley Armstrong when I first read Dime Store Magic, which is focused around the modern witch Paige taking on the role of the Coven leader after her mother’s death (about witches… go figure!). But then I found out that it was the third book in the Women of the Otherworld series and I needed to correct that. So after some hunting, I found Armstrong’s first book she had written called Bitten, and I was hooked.
Bitten is the first book that features the story around Elena Michael which is followed by Stolen, Broken and Frostbitten. This series was featured around the only female werewolf in existence and chronicles her experience being turned, surviving, and adapting to a supernatural world dominated by male werewolves. It is an exciting series as it focuses in-depth on Elena’s struggle in trying to maintain a normal life as a human, but because she is the only female werewolf in existence she attracts not only other werewolves determined to dominate or destroy her but other forces that want to capture and experiment on her. I liked how the series would explore the mythology of the werewolf but from the feminine perspective.
Armstrong also created a supernatural world where werewolves are not controlled by the moon and can transform at will. They do not shape-shift into the half-human/half-wolf type of werewolf we commonly see in horror movies, but just extremely large wolves typically with their human hair colour and body mass. While in human form they have wolf-like characteristics such as keener senses (sight, smell and hearing), strength and reflexes, the ability to heal faster and they can transform a single part of their body into that of a wolf if needed. They age slower than humans, can be killed by human means and silver has no impact on them. Armstrong also created a world of werewolf hierarchy between Hereditary and Non-hereditary wolves as well as Pack wolves vs. Mutts (werewolves without a pack).
The book series became so popular that it was later adapted into a Canadian television series called Bitten by the Space channel in 2014. It was filmed mostly in Toronto and Cambridge, Ontario. It aired for three seasons ending in 2016. The character of Elena Michaels was portrayed by Canadian actress Laura Vandervoort, who has been known on such series as Smallville and Haven. You also might recognize her from the Soska’s sisters 2019 remake of Rabid as she starred as our protagonist Rose. I wholeheartedly enjoy her portrayal of Elena Michaels and while I no longer own the book series (I gave them away in a move long ago), I own the entire television series and engage in what I call my guilty pleasure once in a while by watching it. So I guess since this is a werewolf themed month I know what I’ll be watching.