The women of the Otherworld are joined by their newest member; but this time, she’s not actually of the Otherworld. That’s right, after going through the whole supernatural menagerie, we’ve finally gotten a fully human protagonist. Let’s resurrect Living with the Dead, by Kelley Armstrong.
The men and women of the Otherworld – witches, werewolves, demons, vampires – live unseen among us. Only now a reckless killer has torn down the wall, trapping one very human woman in the supernatural crossfire.
Robyn moved to LA after her husband died to try to put some distance between herself and the life they had together. And the challenges of her job as the PR consultant to a Paris Hilton wannabe are pretty distracting. But then her celebutante is gunned down in a night club, and Robyn is suddenly the prime suspect. The two people most determined to clear her are her old friend, the half-demon tabloid reporter Hope Adams, and a homicide detective with an uncanny affinity for the dead.
Soon Robyn finds herself in the heart of a world she never even knew existed – and which she was safer knowing nothing about . . .
Women of the Otherworld has shown us witches and werewolves, shamans and sorcerers, ghosts and necromancers and vampires and half-demons. But now, at long last, it presents a perspective that has been sorely lacking: that of an ordinary human. Robyn is just your average Jane Citizen, with no experience of the supernatural whatsoever; yet she suddenly finds herself plunged into the Otherworld when she is stalked by a murderous clairvoyant. Her personal journey, that of a human slowly coming to realize the true nature of the paranormal world she inhabits, is probably the strongest storyline of this novel.
In fact, I think I almost would have preferred a tighter focus on Robyn and on Finn (who is technically a necromancer, but a weak one unaware of the greater supernatural community). The book feels a bit stretched having to juggle five POV characters – not just Robyn and Finn, but Hope, Adele, and Colm as well.
I suppose that having a multitude of POV characters is necessary for a complex conspiracy story, as it revolves around secret agendas and mistaken assumptions: to make sense of what’s going on, we need to know not only what character A thinks and what character B thinks, but also what character A thinks character B thinks and character B thinks character A thinks. There’s really no character whose perspective could be cut out without harming the narrative – I was initially dubious of having two villain viewpoint characters in Adele and Colm, especially since Adele is the main villain and Colm only has a few short sections, but it really does seem necessary. And to its credit, the book succeeds at what it aims for. I just wish it could have had a tighter focus. It’s a shame to meet new and really interesting protagonists like Robyn and Finn, and then not get to spend time with them because other characters keep barging in on their spotlight.
Final Rating: 3/5