The Love Potion (Werewolf High Book Five), by Anita Oh

Author Anita Oh has been really good about getting the books in this series out quickly. As an author of my own trilogy (with the third part yet come), I am both impressed by her work ethic and jealous of her prolific nature. Though the gap between this fifth book in the series and its predecessor was longer than gaps between other books in the series, it wasn’t a problem at all to get back into the magical and snarky world of narrator Lucy O’Connor.

Let’s start with a brief recap of the series so far. Lucy attends the secluded, exclusive, possibly magical Amaris High. During her freshman year, the school fell under The Truth Spell, she was shrunk by The Tiny Curse, and she and rich, aloof Tennyson Wilde experienced The Body Swap. Residual effects between them lingered into sophomore year as they felt The Soul Bond. And this book picks up where that one left off.

While I try to keep my reviews spoiler-free, that’s hard to do when reviewing later books in a series. I kinda have to reveal some things from the previous books. You’ve been warned.

Here we have Lucy trying to learn how to be part of a werewolf pack with Tennyson, his sister Althea, their friend Nikolai, and Lucy’s childhood friend Sam. As a pack, they can sense each other’s presence in an instinctual manner. But Lucy also has a telepathic connection with Tennyson thanks to their bonding in the previous book, even though Lucy will eventually transform from a lycanthrope into…something else that we don’t know yet. Meanwhile, Lucy’s former roommate Hannah is still missing, and her new roommate Katie seems to have much information about everything going on, but she can(’t) be trusted. That’s because Lucy’s father is part of the bad-guy organization out to do…something. Oh, and there’s this other girl Olivia, who’s jealous of Lucy and mean to her because Lucy’s obviously stalking Tennyson.

But Lucy isn’t in love with Tennyson. Sure, they have that whole bond thing, but she loves Sam. As a YA love triangle trope, this one is played out well because it’s not like she’s waffling between the two of them. Her relationship with Tennyson is obviously complicated because of the swap then the bond, but in its paranormal way, it’s believable as a deep friendship developed between people who have shared a trauma. In exact opposition, her relationship with Sam is usually simple because it goes back to their childhood. I like this juxtaposition, and thus, I like the triangle.

Then the titular love potion throws an unexpected wrench in the gear shaft. I won’t spoil the details except to say that Lucy is the unwilling recipient of the potion, and the recipient of her undying love really complicates matters. However, I’m torn on how this particular plot device works.

On the good side, I liked the interplay between Lucy and the object of her affection. I liked how it interfered with her relationship with at least one other character. And I really liked how different Oh’s version of a love potion was than the expected—it wasn’t instant, it wasn’t over the top. Instead, it’s a slow internal build that really wreaks havoc on Lucy’s ability to think clearly. The narration at these times, especially when she was close to him, was extremely well done.

But it took a good chunk of the first half of the book (about 40%, according to my Kindle) for the love potion to finally appear. The fifth book in a series shouldn’t need that much setup to get to the initial incident. Sure, there are important things happening before then, but Lucy being affected by the potion is what starts the rest of the plot rolling. Also, I wasn’t quite sold on the motivation of the character who used the love potion, making me question why Lucy had to remain affected as long as she did instead of it being to complicate the main plot.

And it does complicate the plot, which was fine. There’s intrigue, suspense, and action in the nefarious plans of Lucy’s nefarious father. Katie’s role as potential informant—without us knowing her true loyalties—was also handled well. So this was an enjoyable installment in the series, and I look forward to the next part because the endgame isn’t yet clear.

So like previous parts, the characters and their relationships are the strengths of the book. Some of the plot beats and the climax work well, but other parts would require some more of the potion to make me love them. That being said, I give The Love Potion THREE AND A HALF STARS.

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The Love Potion is available at Amazon.

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