BLURB: I don’t remember the first time I changed into a wolf. One night I passed out, and awoke to find my body covered in yellow fur. My brain was beyond reacting. It took this in its stride, as it had everything else in my new life. I got to my feet and went in search of food.

As a curious and independent six-year-old, Clayton didn’t resist the bite – he asked for it. But as a lone child werewolf his life is under constant threat. So when enigmatic Pack member Jeremy Danvers saves him, Clayton is determined to protect his adoptive father, no matter what the cost.

So begins this gripping collection of four tales chronicling the bloody feuds of the American Pack, and the coming of age of Clay Danvers, a very powerful – and very singular – werewolf.

REVIEW: In spite of my gripes with paranormal romance, I love Kelley Armstrong’s writing; she’s funny, descriptive, her action sequences are great and I love her sense of snark. Out of all the different supernaturals that occupy her Women Of The Otherworld series, the werewolves are my favorite creatures. So when I found out this book was all about the werewolves with (almost) no other supernatural creatures, and minimal romance, I was in. Men Of The Other World was everything I’d hoped it’d be. Or at least, the Clay novellas were. The stories surrounding Jeremy’s heritage were a disaster zone, but I’ll get to that.

The two longest, Savage and Ascension,  cover Clay’s upbringing and Jeremy’s rise to Alphadom.

Savage mainly covers Clay’s meeting with Jeremy and his attempts to fit in with the pack, while Ascension covers the pack politics surrounding the power struggle that emerged over who will succeed an aging Dominic as Alpha.

Even though I hated Clay’s relationship with Elena, as a character he was interesting. A man who was turned a wolf as a child ( a sort of modern Mowgli), his story was fascinating and one that begged to be told. And Savage does an excellent job of this.

His meeting with Jeremy is very emotional and shows the patience of the man. Although this story is being told retrospectively from the POV of adult Clay,its still done in a way which employs the thought processes of child Clay. As someone who became a wolf when he was four and left human society until he reached the age of seven, Clay had initially forgotten how to understand human speech and has become a feral, slowly starving in the world.

Even though there’s no dialogue (Clay had forgotten how to speak at this point), and Clay doesn’t understand what’s going on, the emotion is all there. Clay’s mindset is that of well, a cross between a frightened child and scared animal, whose mentality is purely fight or flight, not fully comprehending what’s going on and only coming to Jeremy for food. He sees Jeremy’s attempts to try and dress him as a ‘game’, and it takes a long time to build trust. Armstrong doesn’t rush this, and we have repeated incidents of Clay running away, causing trouble and making Jeremy’s life extremely difficult.

This really demonstrates the compassion of the character, and his patience. Another wonderful thing about this story is that we finally see the werewolves (other than our Italian businessmen) hold down a job. In Women Of The Otherworld, it always felt vague how they were managing to afford this huge property as neither Clay, Elena nor Jeremy’s jobs were shown having much impact on their lives. Here, we see Jeremy having to deal with managing accounts and the inheritance of Stonehaven on his own, and having to deal with translating work to keep the place afloat. This added a lot of authenticity to the book, and it was so wonderful seeing him having to deal with financial issues rather than living in the almost Disney Princess fantasy land where he can just get loads of money selling the odd painting because he’s just that super talented.

It was also great seeing a young Nick growing up with Clay, and their friendship and how his easy going nature clashed with Nick’s loner personality.The power struggle within the pack was fascinating and it was interesting seeing how the different power struggles clashed, although I don’t understand how Malcolm could have ever been a viable contender. Malcolm himself, was just a big, mean ball of macho bile; he doesn’t have a job, is continuously antagonistic to everyone. I honestly didn’t understand why a sensible Alpha like Dominic tolerated him, because he’s such a pantomime villain and a loose cannon. Sure, he’s a great fighter, but he’s nothing that couldn’t be replaced by a good shot gun. What did save him from cartoon villaindoom, however, was his fascination with Clay. I liked how they were both sort of different sides of the same coin, and Malcolm uses his wolf ideology to justify his cruelty, while Clay, allegedly more wolf than human, cannot understand this senseless cruelty.

One thing I did really hate was how quickly Clay went from being behind his peers due to being in the wild so long, to suddenly being extremely gifted and talented and ahead of everyone else. This happened in the space of a year or two. I’m sorry, but this is complete nonsense. There’s no way Clay could have caught up so quickly, and the only reason he does is because he’s meant to be this super special love interest. Clay is impulsive, irrational and lacks judgement and is extremely primal. He has shown absolutely no sign of having a brain for the entire series, there’s no way I buy him as this super special genius.

But all in all, I absolutely loved these novellas and enjoyed them more than a lot of Elena’s books in the main series.

Infusion and Kitsunegari

Now, with a heavy sigh I have to get to the disaster that is Jeremy’s Asian heritage. Oh my, why did she have to do this? You see, in this Jeremy is half kitsune on his mother’s side (which isn’t a spoiler- if a Japanese supernatural turns up in urban fantasy, it’s always a kitsune). So basically, a kitsune comes along, breeds with Malcolm in order to give Jeremy cool Asian mind powers and is killed conveniently when she’s completed her utility. Yeah, that sounds a bit cold but that’s basically all she is- an exotic baby maker that gives her son superpowers.

The problem is that this is the poster boy for badly used mixed race protagonists in urban fantasy, which is excellently deconstructed in this article here. The only reason that she’s Asian is so that Jeremy gets cool exotic powers, and of course after she’s done that, she’s of no further use so she’s done away with. Nothing of her heritage is passed on to Jeremy, she’s never treated as a person, and none of Jeremy’s heritage affects his life or him as a person- you’d think that growing up getting racially abused by his father and being the only mixed race Asian amongst a bunch of white men would have some affect on him. But no, it’s brought up so little in the series this feels like a bizarre ret con. This is even lazier Mixed Race writing than Zoey Redbird was in HoN, who at least acknowledged the existance of her heritage (even if it’s only to justify her super special spirit Pocohontus powers)- and if I’m saying an element is worse than anything in HoN, that’s the most damning criticism I can heap on something.

Worse still, in Infusion, the reason that the kitsune grandmother uses for choosing to throw her grandaughter at Malcolm is because their race is dying and they need ‘strong blood’. Yeah, POC wanting the ‘strong bloodline’ of white people is a racist trope that’s been around for centuries, and though I’m sure Armstrong didn’t purposefully write it that way because she’s not a white supremicist, it sounds so much like this it’s impossible to ignore. Also, having a Japanese woman throwing herself at a white man in the 40s… when the Americans were throwing Japanese Americans into internment camps? Man, that’s pretty bad.

It appears they do at least acknowledge the racism and the mother does say that she was playing on Jeremy’s Racist attitudes… but because she’s given no character it all feels played straight.

It gets even worse in Kitsunegari, as a gang of Kitsune attempt to seduce Jeremy away from Jaime in mangled English saying ‘I for you.’ So basically:

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Yes, we went there: we went full ‘me love you long time’, and it doesn’t even have the excuse Full Metal Jacket did of being written in the 80s. Or Southpark for being Southpark. These creatures are literal submissive sex objects, and apart from being desperate for Jeremy’s superior white- um, werewolf – semen, they’re given no agency, no will of their own compared with the other supernaturals of Armstrong’s world. They are literal sex objects throwing themselves to be used by the white male protagonists, and that is one of the most pernicious, nastiest racial stereotypes surrounding Asian women. This wouldn’t be so bad if there were more Asian characters, but Women Of The Otherworld is whiter than Donald Trump’s porch after a snowstorm. Hope Adams is the only non white narrator in the series, while Zoe Takano is the only asian character in the series… and she wasn’t exactly very competent in Broken.

I mean, why are the Kitsune dying out when the werewolves are doing just fine? Surely there were plenty of other supernatural creatures nearer home they could breed with? Why travel to a country they were on bad terms with for their supernatural sperm doner. Plus, kitsune and shape shifters in Japanese mythology typically try and breed with nobility, so the Danvers would be of low blood and beneath them.

It’s a shame we had to do this, to walk into so many unfortunate racial tropes for no other reason than to give Jeremy a bit of extra magic- which could have been done another way, as to my knowledge mind powers aren’t amongst the typical kitsune skill set anyway ; it was interesting delving into Malcolm’s twisted psyche, and Jaime was her usual awesome sassy self. Plus, it was nice seeing Jaime and Jeremy interacting as a normal couple, having to make time to see each other, working around each others schedules and responsibilities. Damnit, why did we have go there book? You were so brilliant otherwise!

VERDICT: Ignoring the tropey racial disaster zone that were Infusion and Kitsunegari, Men Of The Otherworld was an excellent collection that did everything a set of short stories about a main series should do: they told a story in their own right, and added a lot of depth to the series main characters.

RATING: 4 wolves out of a pack of 5

And on a final note, the English cover looks so much, and so much better than the alternative version. It’s good to know that at least Women Of The Other World is going equal ops on terrible torso pictures:


The Way Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them Takes A Few Steps Back With Race

My main thoughts coming out of Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find could be summed up as: meh. I mean, it was okay. The acting was fine, CGI team deserve an award for their creativity, but the characters felt flat and the actual plot of the film was shoved into the background in favor of a series of slap stick routines surrounding the magical creatures. It was long, but not terrible.

Still, there was just one little thing that bugged the hell out of me throughout the movie. The way it treated it’s one and only Black person who could be called a character. Seraphina, the head of MACUSA, was cast as The Big Bad Authority Figure (a Black woman as an oppressor in the 1920s!) Who’s Always Wrong: she shouts down poor trembling plucky White (well Jewish) Porpentina, let’s the main villain get away with shit right under her nose and is kind of a dick.

I looked on the internet, expecting to see a whole load of articles on this, but all I found was a lot of articles on the casting choice, and one review on BlackNerdProblems. The rest of the internet seemed to ignore this, and even praised it on handling themes of bigotry while pretty much ignoring anyone who would realistically be on the receiving end of bigotry.

This is a shame because this is such a missed opportunity. I love the Harry Potter universe, and am generally a fan of JK Rowling as a person. J K Rowling looked like she was making progress with standing up for the casting choice of a Black lady as Hermione in Harry Potter and The Cursed Child, and I’d hoped that all the excitement surrounding that would demonstrate to her how much including some none white people in the wizarding world would mean to people (hell, people get excited about being included as even random names or subtext in the books). But alas, with this movie it looks like she’s making the exact same mistakes as she did in the main series.



Just like with Kingsley Shacklebolt, the Minister Of Magic, Seraphina Picquery follows in the footsteps of a dozen minor Black high court judges, bosses etc who have little impact on the plot. You know, kind of like in those shows where we get the Black Police Chief who presides over the case, but the White people get to all the cool groundwork and have their storylines and lives focused on.

This is quite a tantalising way of deflecting criticism without putting in any actual effort because look! They’re role models! They’ve got power! They’re the boss! Who cares if they haven’t got trifling things like character or plotlines or screentime and their job amounts to them being little more than glorified support cast- empowerment!

But the thing is, Seraphina is actually a step back from Shacklebolt. At least Shacklebolt is supposed to be a good leader. Seraphina is… not. She is more like Cornelius Fudge, only at least he got to be likable for a little while. Seraphina shouts down poor, trembling Ms Goldstein when she’s trying to relay useful information, blames her for not telling her earlier, has our protagonists unfairly executed and is constantly outwitted by our villain.

The only difference between her role and that of a villain is that a villain gets in the way of the protagonists’ schemes because he WANTS to cause trouble; because he is scheming, competent and his objectives clash with theirs. Seraphina is antagonistic because of her incompetence- because she doesn’t listen to important information because the speakers are below her, who is decieved by the villain at every turn and during the final battle, her and all her Wizards were impotent and  had to be saved by Newt- a man who finds himself decieved by the small animals he’s supposed to be an expert on in a regular basis.

What’s worse, is that this is 1920s America and she towers over and oppresses a white (okay, Jewish) woman, belittling her and playing the big cruel antagonist. This just feels like a cruel denial of reality, where not only do we ignore actual prejudice but turn Black people into the villains and the white characters into the oppressed ones we’re meant to sympathise with. This wouldn’t be so much of a problem if Seraphina wasn’t the only Black person who can be described as an actual character in the film.

The Unlucky Second Choice POC Romance


The second most relevant POC in the film is Lita Lestrange. Okay, we only see her as a picture, but since the only other contenders are random diplomats with one line and some bit part who was totally going to euthanise the hell out of our protagonists, love interest photo is the closest we got to a second important POC character.

Even before she’s even had a chance to speak a line she’s being put in her place (she was a taker, you need a giver) and positioned as the inferior choice to Porpentina. She is now destined to follow in Chang’s footsteps as the Unlucky Love Interest. At least Cho got Harry’s undivided affections before book 5 before she got derailed in order to lift up Ginny as Harry’s one twu wuv.


I don’t think Rowling’s doing this out of malice- more out of lack of investment of POC characters. But author intent is pretty irrelevant, and what we get is a constant case of POC being the unlucky second choice.


Look at all that diversity… now, if only they actual played some actual role in the plot

Yeah, aside from the Serafina, the other POC characters include a Euthanist/ executioner, some black coded goblin musician, and a bunch of foreign representatives who stand around in the background and look diverse while not actually doing anything . This is no doubt going to be held up as proof of diversity, but having none white people as window dressing who have no impact on the plot does not count as being diverse.


Black people were more than just servants on the outskirts of society in the 1920s. Princess Tiana could have been also been aiming to become an African American policewoman, a sports star, or to earn a PhD and it would have been historically accurate for the time period.

Yeah, this always comes up ‘but it’s history- Black people wouldn’t have been around and weren’t able to mix with white people so therefore of course it’s not diverse’. No, Black people weren’t just passive servants living on the outskirts of society. In this period, they were a major part of Urban Life (as many left rural areas to live in bigger cities due to prejudice), they held important jobs such as policemen and women, military officers and aviation pilots. It’ss just that most history books tend to skim over this fact, and society in historical based fiction has been portrayed as entirely white save for slaves and servants so many times that most people believe this myth without question. Which again is not helped by the fact that history books tend to largely ignore this, so when authors do research on the era they’re not likely to easily find  detailed info on the subject- it’s a vicious cycle..

It’s a myth so prevalent that in the first draft of The Princess And The Frog they were going to make Princess Tiana a servant- not out of malice- but because they genuinely didn’t realize that Black people could be other things at that time period.

Am I Accusing JK Rowling Of Being A Racist?

Ah, whenever you bring up this issue you always get accused of trying to attack an author. So, do I think J K Rowling’s racist?

Short Answer: No.

Long Answer: No, and this issue really derails the conversation.  I’m not looking at this as evidence for a trial of whether she’s attained perfect allydom status- that’s not really the point of this analysis.

The point is not author’s intent. The point is what ended up on paper, and J K Rowling is making the same mistakes as she did with the Harry Potter series, and since that series is an important part of growing up and adolescence to so many people (and Dumbledore’s Army is now a symbol against racist ideology), that’s a damn shame. The series hasn’t been completed, and it would be great if POC got to be a part of the Potterverse in a way that they weren’t able to in the main series. J K Rowling seems like a reasonable person, so in bringing up these problems, and asking for better, the point is to make people aware of these tropes and to encourage future writers to learn from the problems and do better in the future.

So, then Forced Diversity?

Well, I think a lot of people complain about this are just so unused to seeing POC on their screens that ANY time they appear it’s so unnatural and MUST be the left wing agenda. But for those whom that isn’t the case. Having a more diverse cast doesn’t make a well written story less well written. I mean, look at OITNB, The Wire, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Spartacus, Moana, Kubo and the Two Strings, Steven Universe; the highly acclaimed Ms Marvel Kamala Khan incarnation, Luke Cage, Empire. The diversity added more depth to the work and allowed women, LGBT people, and ethnic minorities to feel more invested. Like it or not, fantasy is escapism that allows us to travel to another world and it matters being able to picture yourself as part of the adventure- that’s why pretty much every hero is a hapless every man rather than someone actually qualified .  Would Hunger Games have suddenly been a less well written book if Gale or Katniss had been an unambiguous POC? No.Not at all.

What does detract from a work, however, is half assed diversity, tokenism and only including one minority character. It’s a problem when they include a character to teach a Very Special Lesson, and don’t bother to give that character a personality or role in the plot. Worse, is when they only include one character, pin the responsibility of representing a whole group on them, and turn them into a flat role model instead of an actual person.

It would not make the series bad if they included interesting, well written characters who happen to be Black. As flawed a character as Cho Change may be, she meant a lot to Asian fans and there was a lot of excitement when it came to seeing her on screen.

Harry Potter means a lot to so many people- hell, even having a random name mentioned in one book means a lot to many people. So using these films- a clean slate to- as a way of allowing POC to feel more a part of the adventure that all of us grew up fantasizing we could be a part of.