by Whitney Hill
Genres: Fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal
Published by Benu Media on June 23, 2020
Enter an urban fantasy world where elves, vampires, weres, djinn, and others maintain a precarious balance of power in North Carolina. Welcome to Otherside.
Private investigator and sylph Arden Finch is determined to come out of the shadows and practice her forbidden magic. There's just one problem: the elves have a bounty on elementals like her.
When an elf hires Arden without realizing what she is, she seizes the chance to gain leverage in the dangerous world of Otherside--even if it means risking exposure. But as the case grows more perilous, Arden draws the attention of the region's deadliest power players.
Fans of Kim Harrison, Faith Hunter, and the early Anita Blake series will find a kick-ass heroine to love in Arden.
Content warnings: swearing, light consensual sex, physical violence, death, slurs (not toward any real racial or ethnic group/identity), threat of sexual violence.
Disclaimer:I have received this copy from the publisher or author in exchange for an honest review. These opinions are my own.
Let me just say wow, wow, wow, wow, WOW. This book is amazing and I am so happy that I got to read and review it. (Next book now please?!)
Let’s start with the cover. It is everything I love: simple, clean, eye-grabbing and it’s my favorite color, blue. This cover is beautiful and after reading the book, it most definitely portrays it accurately. We see our MC, Arden Finch, front and center with some kind of magic coming from her hand and based on the title we know it’s some kind of element control. Simply, I love this cover.
Our story is set in North Carolina, a place I am somewhat familiar with, in an area known as the Triangle (Durham, Raleigh and Chapel Hill). We get details about the cities, the supernatural world within them and how the two separate worlds (human and Otherside) interact. The Otherside is the supernatural within our world, where they live, interact, etc. We’ve got territories designated to specific groups of supernatural, vampire, fae, elves, werewolves etc. However, we get very little beyond the Triangle though. There are hints at a greater world beyond it, but we don’t get more than the occasional sentence or two about other groups. I feel like this world is definitely going to expand throughout the series and I can’t wait to see it.
Characters, THESE CHARACTERS swoon. Arden Finch is my girl. I love her. She is self-reliant, determined, driven, but also sheltered, kept in the dark, used, and underestimated. She was intentionally kept unawares of her heritage and abilities by multiple people. When she finally figures this out, she becomes determined to get her own answers and figure out her place in this world. As she discovers what was literally right under her nose we learn more about her, but those are spoilers so I’ll keep them to myself. Arden is a private investigator, and Watcher (someone who keeps tabs on the Otherside and lets their boss know what’s going down). She mostly deals with humans until she gets an unexpected visit from a certain elf.
Roman, a werewolf, is our delightfully cuddly love interest. It is obvious from our first encounter just how much he cares for Arden and he proves it over and over again throughout the story. Then we have Troy, an elf from the Darkwatch which is kind of the Otherside’s law enforcement, kind of? I didn’t honestly understand their role completely. Troy is…Troy. He’s tall, dark, mysterious, a bit of an asshole, maybe handsome? There’s something there, I’m not sure what though. He was left a mystery for us, which makes me think we’ll see more of him in the series too. Leith, another elf from a different family, hires Arden to find his missing grandmother. He keeps everything close to the chest, but does seem very worried about her whereabouts and begs Arden to keep everything out of the limelight and away from the police. It helps that he pays VERY well.
Then we have Callista, our guardian and maybe used to be mentor? I didn’t like her at ALL. From the stories we get from Arden, Callista is an abusive and manipulative person who uses people to get the upper hand. She doesn’t at all mind if people get hurt in the process either it seems. If you’re useful, you get used. If you’re not, well….you can imagine.
I could go on about all these characters, but let’s leave it at this. They’re all distinct, have depth and add to the plot. Some we only get the barest of feels for, some we get full force what they’re like and the role they play. I loved some of them and loved to hate others.
I hate to give too much of the plot away, because spoilers and it is oh so worth the read. Arden, our private investigator, gets hired to find a missing elf amidst a crap ton of drownings that have been popping up all over the Triangle. What should be a simple case, turns out to be so much more and she quickly finds herself in over her head and deep into the politics and dangers of the Otherside. However, Arden decides to use this to her advantage and get leverage to get herself out from under Callista’s very controlling thumb. She tangles with vamps, lots of elves and meets someone who shares a similar gift to her own (say what?!). There’s fighting, magic, conspiracies, drama, romance, lots of blood and more than a little badass woman figuring shit out.
Seriously, I could rave FOR DAYS about Whitney Hill’s debut Elemental. I love it that much and I’m ready for a second read through to see what I missed the first go around. I mean I devoured this in less than a day, I could NOT put it down. We’ve got just the right amount of world building for the first in a series, well thought out characters, an interesting and well-paced plot and great writing. It is easy to see the talent in these pages. I want to live in this world, which I don’t say lightly. I may have already daydreamed myself there cough cough.
So if you want a great book, please check this out. Join me in the Triangle for more tales of the Otherside. I know I’m anxiously awaiting the next installment, can we get that real quick Whitney?
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