Women of the Otherworld #7: No Humans Involved

The Women of the Otherworld have returned to kick ass and star in books with one-word titles, and they’ve run all out of one-word titles. This time, Jaime the necromancer takes center stage; and in these supernatural proceedings, there are no humans involved.. Let’s unearth No Humans Involved, by Kelley Armstrong.

Synopsis:

Readers around the world have fallen for Kelley Armstrong’s intoxicating, sensual and wicked tales of the paranormal, in which demons and witches, werewolves and vampires collide – often hilariously, sometimes violently – with everyday life. In Armstrong’s first six novels, Elena, Paige and Eve have had their way with us. Now get ready for Jaime Vegas, the luscious, lovelorn and haunted necromancer. . .

Jaime, who knows a thing or two about showbiz, is on a television shoot in Los Angeles when weird things start to happen. As a woman whose special talent is raising the dead, her threshold for weirdness is pretty high: she’s used to not only seeing dead people but hearing them speak to her in very emphatic terms. But for the first time in her life – as invisible hands brush her skin, unintelligible fragments of words are whispered into her ears, and beings move just at the corner of her eye–she knows what humans mean when they talk about being haunted.

She is determined to get to the bottom of these manifestations, but as she sets out to solve the mystery she has no idea how scary her investigation will get, or to what depths ordinary humans will sink in their attempts to gain supernatural powers. As she digs into the dark underside of Los Angeles, she’ll need as much Otherworld help as she can get in order to survive, calling on her personal angel, Eve, and Hope, the well-meaning chaos demon. Jeremy, the alpha werewolf, is also by her side offering protection. And, Jaime hopes, maybe a little more than that.

Source: Goodreads

SPOILERS BELOW

The title of this one amuses me. Not only is it a departure from the naming convention of the six previous books, but it’s a total lie: ordinary humans are more deeply involved in this story than they have been in any previous Women of the Otherworld book.

The protagonist this time is Jaime Vegas, a necromancer who has shown up as a supporting cast member in a few of the previous novels. I don’t think I explicitly mentioned her in any of my reviews because, to be honest, I didn’t much like Jaime in her previous guest appearances. She always struck me as kind of phony, a ditzy Hollywood attention whore; a distraction from the actual serious characters. Needless to say, I wasn’t enthusiastic to learn she was the main character of this book. Ultimately, however, this outing ended up improving my opinion of her a great deal. Seeing things from her perspective really made me a lot more sympathetic towards her, as I got a much better handle on what she wanted out of life, how her past experiences had shaped her, and why she acted the way she did. Score one for strong character writing.

The mystery aspect of the book, however, was a bit lacking. I picked out May as the villain in her very first scene. She had one line which was just too on-the-nose, practically screaming “I am a secret villain and this is me subtly hinting at the motive behind my evil”:

“They say that if you scratch a cynic, you’ll find a disappointed idealist underneath. That holds true for many of our members, myself included. Some of us have had bad experiences with paranormal scams. Others, like myself, are fascinated by the paranormal, and disappointed with our inability to find proof of its existence.”
– May Donovan, No Humans Involved, “The Erich Weiss Society”

There is, admittedly, an admirable last-minute attempt to set Hope up as a red herring for the position of villain; revealing that she is the literal daughter of Lucifer and lusts for chaos and violence is rather effective at raising doubt as to whether Jaime is wise to be trusting her. However, even without knowing at the time that Hope is the protagonist of the next book in the Women of the Otherworld series, it just wasn’t convincing. It had already been made perfectly clear that the killers were full humans, committing the crimes as part of their attempts to enter the world of the supernatural which lay tantalizingly just out of reach; thus, it just didn’t make sense to pin the guilt on Hope, who is fully aware of her half-demon heritage and thus firmly on the supernatural side of the Masquerade.

In the end, I think No Humans Involved is decent enough; a somewhat weak story bolstered by strong character development.

Final Rating: 3/5

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