Living With The Dead
Published 2008 372 pages
Summary (from the book jacket)
Robyn Peltier has never done anything out of the ordinary and she never makes snap decisions. But when her new boss is murdered and she is named prime suspect, she finds herself way out of her depth. As the bodies pile up, only her best friend Hope Adams, and Hope’s somewhat spooky boyfriend Karl, are on her side.
What Robyn doesn’t realize is that Hope has a few secrets of her own. Namely that she is a half-demon, and her spooky boyfriend is actually a werewolf. Robyn has accidentally stumbled into a bloody supernatural turf war, and the only way Hope can keep her friend alive is by letting her enter a world she’s safer knowing nothing about. A world where homicide cops talk to ghosts, defence lawyers are sorcerers and nothing is quite what it seems.
Living With The Dead is Kelley Armstrong’s ninth novel in her popular Women of The Otherworld fantasy series. It continues the adventures of half-demon Hope and werewolf Karl (the protagonists of the previous novel Personal Demon) as well as introducing some new characters into the series. At this point I feel I should point out that this story has no vampires in it - but this isn’t all that unusual for the Otherworld series.
Living With The Dead is a departure from Kelley Armstrong’s usual style of writing. Normally her books are written in first person from one person’s point of view. Personal Demon was slightly different in that it was written in first person from a couple of different points of view but Living With The Dead extends this further and is written in third person from the points of view of five different characters. Unfortunately the finished result is not an improvement on the first person narrative style that is usually employed by this author.
In fact, I found Living With The Dead to be extremely hard to read. Any momentum the story gains is soon lost again with the cumbersome changes of perspective, which act more like speed bumps than narrative devices. Chapters are labelled with the character’s name so readers know whose perspective this part of the story is coming from but by the middle of the book I had to check back to remember whose POV I was reading. Kelley Armstrong’s books are usually a fast paced rollercoaster ride of fantasy, romance and action – which makes Living With The Dead even more of a disappointment.
This review is starting to sound very negative and I think that in the interest of fairness I need to say at this point that it isn’t a bad book on the whole. It is just average - but this makes it very much below the usual standard of this author who has written so many fantastically good books that I have high expectations for everything she writes.
On the plus side for Living With The Dead the story does introduce some new characters, the most interesting of which is Finn - the homicide detective who can see dead people - and there is some fast paced action provided by the murderous clairvoyant who is trying to kill Robyn.
The horror elements of the story are less fantasy based and more grounded in reality though. Apart from being clairvoyant the main villain of this story behaves much the way any human villain would. She shoots people, she lies, she plots and schemes, and she has no conscience or consideration of others. Just like your standard human psychopath. In parts, Living With The Dead comes across as more of a crime novel than a fantasy story.
With its confusing mixture of changing perspectives and odd combination of crime and fantasy plotline Living With The Dead is (in my opinion) the weakest book that this author has written but its only my opinion so (as ever) check it out for yourself and make up your own mind. You might want to wait for it to be available in paperback or order it from the library though…
LoveVampires Review Rating:
Kelley Armstrong has many original short stories and a novella about the characters and creatures from her published books on her website (just follow the Extras link to ‘Online Fiction’.) Visit Kelley’s website.