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Audiobook Review: Darkest Powers Trilogy by Kelley Armstrong

Audiobook Review: Darkest Powers Trilogy by Kelley Armstrong
Darkest Powers Trilogy by Kelley Armstrong
Narrator: Cassandra Morris
Published by HarperCollins
Published on: October 28, 2014
Genres: Young Adult
Length: 26 hrs & 18 mins
Format: Audiobook
Source: Gifted
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Kelley Armstrong's New York Times bestselling Darkest Powers trilogy is collected here for the first time!

The Summoning: Chloe is locked up in Lyle House, a "special home" for troubled teens. Yet the home isn't what it seems. There is definitely more to Chloe's housemates than meets the eye. The question is, whose side are they on? It's up to her to figure out the dangerous secrets behind Lyle House . . . before its skeletons come back to haunt her.

The Awakening: Chloe Saunders is a living science experiment--not only can she see ghosts, but she was genetically altered by a sinister organization called the Edison Group. She's a teenage necromancer whose powers are out of control, which means she can raise the dead without even trying. Now Chloe's running for her life with three of her supernatural friends--a charming sorcerer, a cynical werewolf, and a disgruntled witch--and they have to find someone who can help them before the Edison Group catches them.

The Reckoning: Chloe Saunders's life is not what you would call normal. First of all, she can't figure out how she feels about a certain antisocial werewolf or his charming brother--who just happens to be a sorcerer. Then there's the fact that she's running for her life from an evil corporation that's trying to kill her and her supernatural friends. And finally, she's a genetically altered necromancer who can raise the dead, rotting corpses and all, without even trying. But Chloe has a plan. And the end is very near.



Kelley Armstrong is #1 on my list of favourite authors thanks to her phenomenal WOMEN OF THE OTHERWORLD series, so I thought it was high time that I gave her Young Adult trilogy a chance. Like most first installments, this audiobook has its share of flaws, but still managed to do a decent job of introducing the characters, and the DARKEST POWERS universe. The paranormal elements were subtle in the earlier chapters which was kind of disappointing, and the author immediately painted all of Chloe’s parental figures in a distasteful light which is a personal pet peeve of mine where this genre is concerned. I did like how Saunders conquered her fears by putting everything into the context of a movie, it was very teenage overactive imagination, and I’m confident that Derek and I will get along just fine. There was of course a cliff hanger which twisted my arm into binge listening to all three.


Book 1 focused more on world-building while as this one was all about the action; the kids are still on the run from the Edison Group, Souza had his first encounter with werewolves and it did NOT go well, and living on the streets comes with its own set of challenges as well. I’ve enjoyed watching Chloe and Derek’s relationship progress throughout this trilogy, they get lots of alone time in this installment, and their dialogue is definitely one of the highlights of this story. Unfortunately this novel was somewhat bogged down by Tori’s annoying POV, and the characters’ run-in with the wolves gave me some pause because it took place near Syracuse, NY which is close to the North American Pack’s home base, and none of the WOTO weres would have dealt with a youngin the way Derek was treated in THE AWAKENING. Mutts? Anyway, another quick and satisfying listen from Armstrong.


Chloe and co. received some much needed coaching from Andrew’s team, however that quickly backfired when the adults realized that their charges trump them by leaps and bounds in the power department. I really hated Margaret, her insolence and insistence on pushing Saunders to crank up the juice resulted in a brilliant oh-shit moment that served as her just deserts. The author tied up the bulk of this series’ lose ends with finesse, and I knew from the get-go that DARKEST POWERS was set in the WOTO universe, but in this installment that was finally confirmed with references to the various cabals, and how the story was linked to Savannah & Adam’s short in Kelley Armstrong’s OTHERWORLD NIGHTS anthology. I very much liked how the romance concluded, and some interesting new characters were introduced towards the end that have left me scrambling to place them—the DARKNESS RISING trilogy perhaps?


Cassandra Morris’ narration was appropriate for these audiobooks, her voice fit that of the fifteen year old MC’s, and she incorporated Chloe’s speech impediment into the dialogue admirably. However, as the story progressed and the heroine evolved, the child-like tone would have benefited from a slight adjustment. I had zero issues with listening to these installments one after the other because the performance was homogeneous, and the character voices didn’t deviate. The pacing did Armstrong’s writing style proud, and the built-in creep factor that comes with seeing ghosts was always present. I wouldn’t hesitate to purchase another Young Adult title that featured Morris as the narrator.

Darkest Powers Series

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Owner, designer and main blogger behind Rabid Reads. Avid book reader, snowboard bunny, video gamer and Supernatural fan. I love all things paranormal, werewolves especially. Oh, and I’m Canadian, eh!

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  1. I read, instead of listened, to this series, shocking I know. I read them when they first came out before I was the audio junkie that I am today. I’m also not sure how much I would like listening to YA, since I’m not a huge fan anyway, so listening to someone who sounds like they are 15, might not be good for me.

    I did however, love this series. I don’t mind Armstrong’s YA. It doesn’t have most of the issues that YA books have. One, these are not set in a school setting, so no high school to deal with. You do have the annoying teenage girl that I wanted to punch in the throat. If I remember correctly, I enjoyed the second trilogy even more than the first. I hope you do too. Great review.
    Melanie Simmons recently posted…5th Annual Gratitude Giveaways Hop (Hot Listens)

    • I listen to even less YA than I read, but it was the only way that I could squeeze this trilogy in, and it actually worked out surprisingly well. I agree that Armstrong managed to avoid the main tropes that plague this genre. Thanks for the FYI about her Darkness Rising novels, I’ll get to them… eventually.

  2. I read these a long time ago and I did really like them, mostly because of what Melanie said, there’s no real high school drama. I think for standard YA, I like that the most.

    And, to quote Melanie again, The Darkness Rising trilogy is fantastic, I think you’d like that more, I did.

    Great reviews!
    Kristi recently posted…Of Scars and Stardust by Andrea Hannah

    • Wow! To back-to-back praises for her other trilogy, I guess this means that I need to find a way to finagle them into my reading schedule. I was super happy about the lack of high school drama, although there was a love triangle (kinda), and a token mean girl.

  3. I just realized that I have the second one to this series on my shelf but not the first one..sounds like they might be fun on audio..I am becoming such an audio 🙂
    Stormi recently posted…Book Review: Deadly Tasting by Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noël Balen

    • I had the darnest time finding the first and third installments in audio, but book 2 was readily available. Talk about a pain in the butt, and she’s a Canadian author too. Urgh! Audiobook junkies FTW!!!

  4. I remember reading this when it first came out and really liking it, in fact one of my daughters is reading it right now and liking it. I really need to try some of her adult books as well.
    So glad you gave this trilogy a try!
    kindlemom1 recently posted…Blog Tour Review: After the Rain by Renee Carlino

    • Granted, I’m a little late in jumping on Armstrong’s YA train, but at least I made it. This would be a great series for teens; I’m glad your daughters are enjoying them.

  5. Oooo I love the progression of ratings Carmel! I always, always prefer a series that perhaps starts out little rocky but is strong enough that I’m compelled to continue, and then just gets better and better as it goes to one that starts out strong and then declines thereafter. I definitely need to give these a try!!!

    • This is precisely why I ALWAYS give a series a second chance, because very often it gets better with each installment, as was the case here. You should definitely revisit this world!

  6. OMG! I forgotten all about the series! I remember never giving it a chance because back then I had to have romp on my listens…LOL Especially after I discovered DBD, now I think I have to reconsider since I enjoy YA titles a lot more.
    Thanks Carmel Sounds good 🙂

    • Anonymous!! It’s me Lupdilup – Don’t know what happened

    • I’m happy that you got over your must-have-romp stage, Loupe, because you’d be seriously missing out on some great listens. Thanks for owning up to your anonymous status. LOL!

  7. Grrr I still haven’t read anything by Kelley Armstrong but I’ve had her Darkest Powers series on her TBR for a while so I need to read it soon! I love how each book got progressively better for you and how the first one was just interesting enough for you to continue!
    Who knows, maybe i’ll just give audio a try and listen to this one one day!
    Lily recently posted…Sublime: Review

    • This is a prime example of how a trilogy can get better with every book. Kelley Armstrong is my FAVOURITE author, so I was giving The Awakening a try regardless of how I felt about The Summoning. That’s just how I roll!

  8. Hi Carmel!
    I was always a fan of the women of the otherworld books but haven’t ever tried this YA series from Kelley Armstrong. I found it intriguing that there was a link in book 3 of this series to WOTO and I do like what some of the other commenters have mentioned above about not having the bulk of the action around a school as is common in YA. Glad to hear the narration was appropriate and matched the characters for the most part 🙂

    • Her Women of the Otherwise series is the important one IMO, so the fact that you’ve read that one scores you bonus points with me.

      • Oh, absolutely–so many favourites among the WOMO, especially “Haunted” 🙂 I know that fans were very divided about the SyFy adaptation of “Bitten,” which is apparently coming back for a second season–if you watched it, what did you think? 🙂

      • Of course I watched it! I really liked it, yes there were imperfections, but that’s to be expected. I was just psyched that there were werewolves on TV. LOL!

  9. I haven’t checked this series yet, but I’m quite in love with Kelley’s fantasy YA and I’m really looking forward to reading the next book!

    Seems like I really ought to read this series because the books progressed from 3 stars to 5 stars and that’s always a good thing!

    Great review Carmel!
    Pili recently posted…Mark This Book Monday: ARC Review of Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless by Liz Czukas!!

    • As long as Kelley Armstrong’s books are on your shelves my work here is done. Hehe!

  10. While I’m not sure Armstrong has yet topped her Otherworld series, I really did enjoy this YA series. I think my favorite part was the setting — I kind of want to go explore those woods (as long as there aren’t any baddies hidden in there!).
    Mary recently posted…Hey, Little, Brown books! How you doin’?

    • I can’t officially weigh-in on your she hasn’t topped her WOTO statement, having not yet read everything that she’s written, but I’m inclined to believe you!

  11. I love her adult series and worried this would feel to immature for me, I am glad to see these worked for you and that the books got stronger as it went. I may give these a go.
    kimbacaffeinate recently posted…Gunpowder Alchemy by Jeannie Lin

    • That’s always a concern whenever you come across the Young Adult label, however Armstrong’s amazingly talented, she really can do it all!

  12. I read these books years ago, back when I was just starting to really read YA as an adult. I remember liking them moderately and really liking book 3, but not much more than that. I’m glad the narrator was appropriate, though, I might wish to re-listen at some point. I do that sometimes. 🙂

    • I checked-out plenty of reviews before adding this trilogy to my TBR, and was surprised by how popular it was. Audiobooks are a great way to revisit a series!

  13. oki those i’m sure i have at least the first 2 ( but in english or french i can’t remember) i love to see your rating going up with each book^^ and it’s one of my favourite authors so i wonder why they are staying in my TBR pile ( will have to remedy to that)
    miki recently posted…How to Date a Dragon ( Flirting with Fangs trilogy 2) by Ashlyn Chase

    • Books are easily lost in the shuffle when you read as much as we do. Now that you know, I hope you’ll get a move on!

  14. I quite enjoyed this series when I read them many moons ago. Audiobooks are such a great idea if you want to dust off some books in your TbB pile.

    I love Kelley Armstrong, though I wasn’t a fan of her Women of the Otherworld series. I think I gave up at book 1. :/

    Great review, Carmel!
    Joy (Joyousreads) recently posted…[459]: Lethal by Sandra Brown

    • Aaww, you’re breaking my heart with your comment about Bitten, that’s only my favourite werewolf book EVER.

  15. I totally agree with your ratings on the progression through the trilogy. I tend to feel that way about Kelley’s books. The first ones tend to start out slowly and are about 3’s for me and then steadily get better as she builds up the story.

    As for parental figures – I think it’s a disservice to adults that many of the YA books paint them soo poorly. Are many of them bad, yes – but enough so that it needs to be that way is an overwhelming amount of YA books? No. So I’m glad that the parents in her other YA series aren’t all that way.
    Tabitha (Not Yet Read) recently posted…Jay Kristoff tells us Why Third Books are the Greatest!

    • It’s good to hear that I’m not the only one who gets upset by the lack of good parents in YA. Yes, it creates drama, but it shouldn’t be the norm.

  16. Better and better? I do not see a series that does that that often
    blodeuedd recently posted…Author post and Giveaway: Gini Koch

    • It is indeed a rare occurrence, so you have to hand-it to Armstrong!

  17. I’m glad you enjoyed this trilogy, Carmel. I started reading it when The Awakening first released – I was already an Armstrong fan and I managed the Teen dept, so I wanted to be able to recommend it. Wasn’t Derek awesome?!? I, too, felt the story get better with each successive book. Are you going to read the Darkness Rising series? I have the first book but still haven’t gotten to it. *sigh*
    Bookworm Brandee recently posted…**Blog Tour Review & Giveaway ~ Enthrall Him ~ Vanessa Fewings**

    • YES! I loved Derek! I can’t help but feel a little weird at having crush on a character so young; I guess the fact that it’s fiction makes it ok. Darkness Rising is definitely on my radar, won’t be for a while though.

  18. Oh I love it when a series keeps getting stronger as it goes. I might have to do it on audio but I might have the same problems you have had with the narrator. Well, it is another option to consider. Will read this series one way or another! 🙂
    Melissa (Books and Things) recently posted…Chained by Night by Larissa Ione

    • You can’t argue with an upward slope as far as a trilogy’s ratings go. The narrator wasn’t bad once I got used to her.

  19. I eyed this series at one point but skipped it because my luck with adult author switching to YA has always been a bit disappointing. I am glad though that you loved this and that it got stronger as it went. That is saying something.
    Heidi recently posted…Audiobook Review: Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

    • If I wasn’t already familiar with her UF novels, I would have assumed that Armstrong’s roots were in YA. She nails it!

  20. Awesome reviews Carmel. This is one series of Armstrong’s that I haven’t read. Glad to see that each book got better for you though.

    Naomi @ Nomi’s Paranormal Palace
    Naomi recently posted…Teaser Tuesday #118 – Elixir by Jennifer L. Armentrout

    • You can’t discount a series that improves with each new installment because that’s the best case scenario.

  21. I saw these when they came out but never really looked into them. Not sure why since I’m a KArmstrong fan. Will make sure to add these to my list 🙂

  22. Oh this series sounds good. I really enjoy the books from the author but I don’t think I’ve read any of her YA but I know I have a book in this series I should try it but I think it’s not a book 1. Great review!

    • These have been on my wishlist for soooo long, I finally caved & got the audios because that was the only way I was going to be able to get to them.

  23. I love a series that gets better with each book. Have you read Armstrong’s Nadia Stafford series? To me, that is her best series ever, but it gets overshadowed by Otherworld. It’s not paranormal, but it has assassins!!! I just finished the last book. Amazballs!
    Jennifer Bielman recently posted…Excerpt & Giveaway: VIP by Riley Edgewood (Book Blitz)

    • No, that’s another one that I keep putting off. I love stories that feature assassins too. Way to tempt me with another Kelley Armstrong binge read!

  24. OOo one day. One day. I’m working my way through her WOTO series still and have enjoyed those a good bit 🙂 That’s great they kept getting better and better as it went 🙂
    anna (herding cats & burning soup) recently posted…Guest Post w/ Stacy Gail–Book Boyfriend “Must Haves”

    • She has so many books out, it’s hard to keep up, not to mention that she also publishes a new Otherworld short every 2nd month.

  25. So far, this series is my only introduction to Kelley Armstrong, but I definitely enjoyed it! Like you, I thought the series got better as it went along. 🙂
    Amanda recently posted…Stick a Flower in It, Top Off Tuesday

    • If you enjoyed these, then you should definitely give her adults novels a whirl. I <3 them so hard!

  26. I looooved this series! Kelley is also one of my fav authors and this series was so much fun. Very different from her Women of the Otherworld series I found but a great YA story. I actually liked book 1 a lot more than the last but I don’t really remember very many details from them now. I do know that I read these way early in my YA days so I hadn’t seen very many clichés yet (like annoying parents) maybe that helped >.<
    Giselle recently posted…Review: On the Edge by Allison van Diepen

    • I like that there were parallels between this trilogy and her WOTO books, but you’re right, they are world’s apart. I can’t believe I doubted Armstrong’s skills as a YA writing, I should have known better!

  27. I picked this one up long ago, and for some reason, I just couldn’t get into it like I wanted. It may have been for the reason I was reading heavy duty adult paranormal at that time, and not YA. I’m excited to see that each book progressed and just got better. I may need to give this series a second look. 🙂
    kim { Book Swoon } recently posted…Adult Book Review: The Kraken King by Melijean Brook

    • I struggled with the first book a little bit, but once I made it over the hump it was smooth sailing. It’s great that there are only 3 installments too. Way more manageable!

  28. I agree with Tabitha, all of Kelley Armstrong’s YA series start off alright and then get EPIC. The Summoning was good, but I remember finishing The Awakening and freaking out because I wanted The Reckoning so badly. Chloe is a completely different person by the end of the trilogy, which is impressive when you consider that it takes place over such a short period of time! Don’t get me started on my love for Derek…those surly geniuses do it for me every time (although I feel a bit pervy about it since he’s practically a baby compared to me LOL).
    Danya recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday: Vol. 22

    • Armstrong sure does know how to build suspense throughout a series! I was shocked by how much Chloe changes from book 1 to 3. I was totally rooting for Derek the whole time, so when she kissed Simon I was like NOOO!! Luckily, that didn’t last long.

  29. It’s been so long since I read these, I can’t remember if I only read the first or the first two. I think maybe two but not the third. I did read and love the next trilogy in the same world though and loved it!
    Candace recently posted…Review: Second Grave on the Left by Darynda Jones

    • Not finishing a trilogy would drive me bananas! Darkness Rising is coming so highly recommended via this review, that ya’ll have left me with no choice but to read it.

  30. I admire to everyone listening audiobooks – my thoughts start to wander and I have to go back too often and listen same parts again. I’m much better with reading.

    I’ve read spin-off series of this trilogy and it was okay. Nothing spectacular. I’m glad that it got better for you with every next book.

    Great review, Carmel.
    Glass recently posted…(Series Review) Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

    • Sometimes my life gets too hectic that audiobooks are the only way I can get any reading done, but I had a difficult time staying focused at first too. Practice makes perfect!

  31. This has been on my list forever. (actually at the top of it forever) It’s too bad that the first book wasn’t great, but I’m glad that they get better as they go. I agree I don’t like it when they have terrible parents. I didn’t know that this series tied into her adult books. After I get around to these I’ll probably have to read those too.
    Molly Mortensen recently posted…Top Ten Sequels I Can’t Wait To Get

    • It’s rare that I read a book 1, and immediately fall head over heels for the series because it always takes a bit for the world-building & characters to get going. You should make this trilogy a priority!

  32. Its been a while but I remember loving me some Derek. Wouldn’t mind rereading at some point…
    I haven’t read her adult though

    • Before you do a re-read, you should give her adult novels a whirl. Yes, there are 13 installments, but it’s well worth it!

  33. Heck yes Tori is so annoying! I am really glad that they improved for you as you moved thru them, that usually happens for me with Armstrong. Now you’ll have to check out some of her freebie shorts with them 🙂
    Tabitha recently posted…Review: Zombillenium Vol 2 & Betty Blues