ARC Review--Led Astray by Kelley Armstrong

Two brand new tales anchor this wide-ranging collection from one of urban fantasy's most successful authors. Here is the first time that best-selling fantasy, YA, and crime author Kelley Armstrong has had her stories collected from Otherworld and beyond. With her signature twists and turns, Armstrong gives a fresh spin on city-dwelling vampires, werewolves, and zombies, while also traveling further afield, to a post-apocalyptic fortress, a superstitious village, a supernatural brothel, and even to feudal Japan.

With tales that range from humorous to heart-stopping, these are the stories that showcase Kelley Armstrong at her versatile best.







I received this eARC from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review, I was in no way compensated for this review.


Kelley Armstrong has been one of my all time favorite authors for years! I adored her Otherworld series, ate up all her YA books, and am extremely hooked in her new Cainsville series. Though, the hardest thing for me is always tracking down her short stories that are in numerous anthologies. Luckily she's recently been releasing her own anthologies of particular themed stories! Led Astray is her latest collection and in here we have the very best of her work! We get stories from the Otherworld, Cainsville, the Darkest Powers/Darkness Rising, and Age of Legend series, plus stories that are not related to her previous series and are just standalone pieces! There was only one story in here that I already read, and that's Gabriel's Gargoyles, so I didn't re-read that one. I already reviewed that one on my blog last year, so you can find that mini review in my archives.

We all know anthologies are the hardest to review, and I tend to break it down piece by piece. So this review will be longer than usual. But I'll try to keep each "mini" review within short!

RAKSHASHI

This is a completely new to me piece that has no place in her previous series. That hardest thing about short stories is diving into a story and not knowing anything about the world, characters, etc. And I think that's why this one fell flat to me. But at the same time was intriguing! Amrita is a powerful being, something like a djinn, but not so much magical powers. She has a master that she longs to be free of, but will only be free if he grants her it and he has no plans to do so.

As I said, I felt like I needed more background info with this story. It was hard to grasp onto the ideas and such and then it was over. So yeah, a good story, but not my favorite.

Rating 2/5 stars

KAT

This comes from the Darkest Powers/Darkness Rising world, yet it's not a character we met. At least, not that I can recall. Kat is a supernatural of some kind, she doesn't know what yet. But she knows she's not fully human either. She lives with Marguerite who's a vampire. They're friends, companions of sorts. Life is good.

But they are always on the run. As we learn "bad guys" from the YA trilogies are after Kat for reasons unknown. What's worse? We never really learn what Kat is. Again, maybe we do know Kat already and my horrendous memory is failing me. But I felt there were just too many questions left unsaid at the end. It was still enjoyable, for as you might recall these YA trilogies are apart of the Otherworld series as well!

Rating 3/5 stars

A HAUNTED HOUSE OF HER OWN

This one was one of my favorites! It was dark and eerie and oh so mysterious with a chilling twist at the end that I couldn't help but love!! Talk about dark and spooky!

Tanya and her husband, Nathan just bought a bed and breakfast that is supposedly haunted. Tanya loves the idea of running a haunted B&B. But then weird things start happening. Seeing a person, then the next moment they're gone. Then Nathan starts acting odd. It's almost like he's possessed!

It was quite the chilling tale and I loved the eeriness of it all! The ending, is shocking, but has such a dark twist to it. I long for a short sequel/conclusion/epilogue, but I will just create me own in my head! Haha!

Rating 5/5 stars


LEARNING CURVE

This was a super short story set in the Otherworld that follows Zoe. Zoe was one of the few vampires we met. Besides Cassandra who was my fave, Zoe was the other fave! Zoe is dealing with a stalker in this one. She can't seem to shake him. And then she gets quite the surprise when does try to lose him!

While a decent story, I guess I just wished for more. It was almost too short and there were still a few minor little things I wondered about. But nothing that left me aggravated.

Rating 3/5 stars

THE SCREAMS OF DRAGONS

This was a Cainsville story! As you might know, I have a sucky memory when it comes to books. I can't remember details off the bat, but when returning to said worlds, I can remember things rather well with a few helpful hints.

This one rings of a prequel story of sorts. But I wasn't sure of our main character, Bobby. He seemed new to me. Bobby is a little boy who dreams of dragons and castles. He has a rough home life with parents who ignore him, a little sister who agonizes him, and an abusive grandmother. It's no wonder he finds refuge in Cainsville. 

But as he grows older, life is still cruel to him. So he learns to fight back in the more astonishing ways.

This was a shocking story because you see this sweet, scared little boy turn into a monster! It was quite shocking. We see some familiar Cainsville faces as well. But I couldn't really tie in its connection to the series now. Or perhaps we weren't meant to.

Rating 4/5 stars

THE KITSUNE'S NINE TALES

An Age of Legends story! And while it was intriguing, again, my poor memory was slow to get caught up! Here we see Senri, a solider of the emperor taking Alvar, our villainous prisoner to the Forest of the Dead for his sentencing.

All the while Senri is doing his duty and taking to heart the eight tales the emperor said Alvar will tell him. He would do anything to escape punishment. 

While short, the story definitely packed a punch at the end. It's not until those last lines that you don't see the excitement of the story either.

Rating 3/5 stars

LAST STAND

Another fresh story, we see Monica is a dystopic setting. The trouble with these new stories is trying to reorient oneself into the new world that we know nothing about. This can be said when starting any new series as well. But with short stories you don't have long to try to adapt before its over.

We see Monica alongside her refugees while they battle the Others. This definitely has an air of post-apocalyptic feel to it. The zombies were the main clue! And if I grasped the story right, there's definitely a shocking twist that you won't see coming!

Rating 3/5 stars

BAMBOOZLED

Back to the Otherworld again! Though this time, I feel like we meet new characters! I don't recall Lily and Nate, but I definitely liked their story! It's set in the 1800s where Lily and Nate are a sort of team of hunters. Hunters after the supernatural type.

They are off after a demon and they will have to play their roles right. But then things go horribly wrong and they'll have to fight for their lives to get out.

While short, I really enjoyed this one! There's quite the air of mystery to this one. I wish I could remember if these two were ever mentioned or popped up in the series, but really couldn't ring any bells with their names! I enjoyed these two for sure and wouldn't mind reading more about them if there's another story to tell!

Rating 5/5 stars

BRANDED

Back to the Darkest Powers/Darkness Rising trilogies with more new characters! This one was quite intriguing, even though it took awhile to get into it. Again, with the whole reorienting myself with a new or old world. Though the setting is definitely different this time around.

Rayne lives inside the fortress with all the other townspeople. It's in order to keep all the supernaturals out. After the the government started mucking around with experiments, it created a few too many creatures they could no longer control. And the world became dangerous, hence the need for fortresses.

When Rayne outs her best friend as being a werewolf for the good the people, he's exiled instead of killed. For he was a decent sort of lad, whose only fault was keeping his identity secret. Otherwise, he would've been killed.

Rayne soon becomes racked with guilt over what she's done and will do anything to make things right. With the help of her friend but not friend, who just so happens to be the daughter of one of the men in charge, she's able to do just that.

There's definitely some intriguing twists and shocks to this one! It's quite surprising and very suspenseful. I only struggled with its connection to the proposed series. But again, just kind of assuming it's a "sequel" world of sorts! Still, a very delightful and entertaining tale!

Rating 4/5 stars

THE LIST

Another Otherworld universe story following Zoe the vampire once again! I can't remember if I read this one somewhere before, because it seemed familiar, but I kept reading it anyway!

Zoe reads an article in the newspaper listing about 20 or so real vampires. Outraged that she's not among them, she goes off in search of the professor. Though he's attracted a rather unique crowd of wannabes. Zoe's definitely bitten off more than she can chew with this one.


A short and sort of funny story with a familiar face that was enjoyable. It makes for a nice set in a day in the life of Zoe!


Rating 3/5 stars

YOUNG BLOODS

Another Otherworld story that once again, felt like I read before. Though when I read where all these stories came from, only one really struck a chord. Anyway, here we have Roger on a subway with two vampires, a teenage girl, and a dead man sitting next to him. How he gets himself out of this situation is far more surprising than I anticipated! Another shorter short read that was intriguing as it was delightful!

Rating 3.5/5 stars


THE DOOR

Another new new short story for the collection, but I swear I could've read this somewhere before. I've obviously read too much and have lost my memory!

A young girl lives with her parents and is told to never open this particular door. Naturally, she is curious about it over the years, but never questions it. Her father always brings back gifts and food when he comes through it. Then her parents have another baby and she's delighted with her sister. It's not until later on that we learn the true purpose of the door and what it hides.

A very mysterious story with a shocking surprise at the end!

Rating 4/5 stars

DEAD FLOWERS BY A ROADSIDE

Another non series related story, and it was quite confusing to me too. I got the gist of it as far as I believe. But it just didn't do much for me. A husband loses his wife and child in a car accident. He's always been able to see ghosts, he's tried helping them too. But he hasn't been able to see his wife or child and is saddens him.

It's the ending that's the most confusing. Again, I was able to guess at what was going on and happened. But I never like feeling unsure.

Rating 2.5/5 stars

SUFFER THE CHILDREN

Yet another non series related story. This one was quite long too. Lots of storytelling and it was quite chilling as well.

Chesnut Hill is a small town that recently lost all their children and elderly to a disease. Then two men come to them and say they can bring back all the lives lost in the past four days. Since the mayor's son fits this time frame, he and the other parents are all for this magical cure. Though it's far from magical and much more sinister than one could ever imagine. I was expecting it to go one way, but when it went the other unknown way...yeah, it left me pretty shocked!

Rating 3/5 stars

THE COLLECTOR

Sarah is a puzzle aficionado! She's very good at them and enjoys them. She starts participating in a website's contest for a series of them and fabulous prizes. Though when she gets to the final puzzle, the prize is anything what she could imagine it to be.

This one had been intrigued up to its very end, when a shocking unseen twist came in! It left be a tad befuddled and confused in regards to something. But other than that, this was a very intriguing story!

Rating 5/5 stars

HARBINGER

Jenna is being haunted. And the thing is, she's not sure who the ghost girl is. She's soaking wet and blue and never speaks. Soon another appears, and another. And none of the new ghosts provide answers either. She's aggravated and confused, so she attends a college party close to campus to blow off steam. Though she's a very careful girl.

Just when you sense the danger drifting towards Jenna and think you have the mystery solve. Think again! I loved the unique twist to this one! It made for quite the heart-pounding read!

Rating 5/5 stars

V PLATES

Another Otherworld universe story! This one follows Nick, one of my other favorite werewolves after Clay and Elena. Nick is playing mentor to both Reese and Noah. When Reese gets the brilliant idea that they should take Noah to a brothel to help get him out of his funk and rid him of his virginity to make his life easier with his girlfriend. Though they learn the brothel is hiding more than you ever thought it would!

Another shorter read but entirely entertaining! If only because it involved Nick! It was yet another enjoyable read!

Rating 4.5/5 stars

LIFE SENTENCE

This too comes from the Otherworld universe, but I feel like it's with new characters. At least, I couldn't remember them anyway. Daniel is a sorcerer and he's dying of cancer and he wants to remedied that right away. With the help of his extraordinary assistant, he weeds through phonies and fakes who claim to have the cure for the perfect zombie state, one that will allow him to be in control and a fully functioning near human. 

But Daniel gets far more than he bargained for. Despite not knowing these characters well, you get the sense that Daniel isn't the best of guys, which makes the ending even more fitting!

Rating 4/5 stars

PLAN B

This is yet another non series related story and it was quite sinister! Here there are no paranormal beings of any kind. No magic or curses. Just humans being monsters.

Gregory is having an affair with Deanna and they plan to kill his wife, who he's unhappily married to. Then they can live happily ever after. But everyone here is cunning and conniving. They all have their own secrets and game plans. Who will the be winner? You'll never see it coming!

This was a very intriguing story! I loved the darkness to it. Guess that's kind of scary reflecting on me, but all in good fun! It was so very twisted and I truly never saw either one coming! That's what makes this an entertaining and suspenseful read!

Rating 5/5 stars

THE HUNT

A supremely short story set in the Cainsville universe. This one confused me a bit, because I couldn't remember who these characters were. It's nearly guaranteed that we never met them though. Here we see two sinister men about to take part in the Hunt that we've seen happen already in Cainsville. Though the results are not what you'd expect.

Rating 4/5 stars

DEAD TO ME

The final non series story and by far the most chilling! A woman is being haunted by her dead, almost ex-husband. Things in their marriage led to a divorce that was taking place, yet the two still saw each other on the side, despite being in other relationships. Already igniting my disgust for infidelity, I was curious to learn how the husband died. Why the wife was seeing him, since she claims his death was an accident.

It's not until the very end that we get a guiding light to share the answers to some very dark secrets!

Rating 5/5 stars

DEVIL MAY CARE

This is a fully new Cainsville story that's another prequel of sorts! It follows Patrick and gives us more insight to this trickster fellow!

Lately, Patrick has been haunted by dreams of a long ago fae tale that involved, Matilda, Gwyn, and Arawn. I believe we learned of this tale already, but here we get a little more insight into it. And how, apparently, it repeats itself every some odd years. Patrick believes he may end up playing some part in the story for this time around, and since it's not a happy story, he wants no part of it. 

But he should know by now, you can't avoid fate. 

How things end up turning out was quite shocking! I wish I could recall if any of this was new information, but alas, with reading wayyyyy too much, comes a poor memory! There's just too much in my head with all the books and stories, some details get forgotten or are just buried very, very deep! 

Nevertheless, it was an intriguing and insightful story! Giving you just another little piece to the mystery that is Cainsville!

Rating 4.5/5 stars


And that is the end of the full length review of the very best of Kelley Armstrong's work! If you have yet to read any of Kelley's books and were thinking of starting or wanted a sample, I'd say this anthology is a good place to start. I don't think you'd be spoiled by anything in this one. Characters get mentioned that you won't meet at the very start, so that's the most you'd be spoiled by! 


Overall Rating 4/5 stars


Led Astray releases September 15, 2015






3 comments:

  1. I really enjoyed this anthology. I think the Kitsune one was my favourite, but it definitely helped that I had read Empire of Night a week or two before so everything was fresh in my mind!

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  2. I love what I've read of Kelley Armstrong's work, but haven't managed to make my way through all of the Otherworld series yet (there's just so many!) This anthology sounds fantastic!

    Aentee at The Social Potato

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  3. Can't go wrong with Kelley Armstrong. :-)
    sherry @ fundinmental

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