Thursday, July 1, 2010

CBR Book#50: Personal Demon by Kelley Armstrong

This novel is another that takes place in Armstrong's Otherworld setting. It is chronologically the eighth novel in her series and only the third Otherworld novel that I've read. Again, there are some events that took place in novels two through seven that are mildly spoiled in this story, but they are not fully explored or explained and will still be new when I read them. Characters that took center stage in Bitten and Men of the Otherworld are mentioned briefly, if at all, and some who were minor characters or briefly mentioned in those novels are explored more deeply.

Hope Adams is a rare Expisco half-demon. Her father is Lucifer and her mother is a human woman who has no idea about Hope's thirst for chaos or her ability to see chaotic events that have occurred, read chaotic thoughts people are having, or get off on feeling that chaos. Hope is a tabloid reporter that also works for the interracial council of supernaturals, two jobs that allow her to get her fix of chaos without endangering herself or others. Hope was involved in a job that she thought was for the council, but was really an unauthorized bunch of jobs for the Cortez Cabel. Cabels are organizations within the supernatural world that give jobs to other supernaturals and regulates some of the supernatural society. 

At any rate, Hope was caught up in this with werewolf Karl Marsten, who we met briefly in Bitten. In exchange for letting Hope and Karl out of their fake Cabel assignment, Cortez Cabel leader Bencio expected a favor. Benicio is ready to call in that favor and picks up Hope at the scene of a crime she is hoping to write a story about. Benicio tells Hope that there is a supernatural gang in Miami, where the Cortez Cabel is based, that is thought to be stirring up trouble. He wants Hope to pose as a new gang recruit and let Benicio know what is happening. He also wants Karl to join her, but Hope and Karl are on poor terms since a less-than-stellar morning after, so she avoids bringing the werewolf in. However, Karl eventually learns of the assignment and joins Hope as her protector.
Hope calls Lucas Cortez, illegitimate son of Benicio and his pick for successor, to see what he thinks of his father's proposal. Lucas tells Hope that it sounds fine, but later has reservations. Lucas does not approve of the Cabals and knows that his father is probably hiding something. When Lucas calls his father to attempt to extract the possible motives, he gets sucked into the situation by promising to monitor and assist Hope. Lucas, and his witch wife Paige, soon find themselves in Miami, deep into Cabal business and a bloody grab at power.

There are a lot of characters in this novel. Elena and Clay make appearances by phone, Jeremy is mentioned, and there are the Cabal members, gang members, Lucas's brothers, and a few characters in novels that I haven't read yet. At times I had to re-read passages to be sure of who was talking since the chapters tell you whether Lucas or Hope are narrating. Sometimes the action is moving quickly and glancing at the name at the chapter heading doesn't register in your brain until you wonder why Hope suddenly got glasses or Karl is kissing Lucas.

However, Armstrong does an admirable job of fleshing out characters that need to be and even giving adequate description and personality to those that other authors might touch on briefly. This isn't to say that Armstrong spends a lot of time describing people, just that she is able to use idiosyncrasies effectively to give us what we need. She also does a good job of tying the other characters of her universe into this one. Experiences of Elena and Clay, for example, are remembered by Lucas and Paige and their opinions and advice are sought. There isn't anything out of place about pulling them into the story briefly. It's something that would happen in life and not get a second glance. I hope that Armstrong continues to add to and expand her Otherworld universe and characters, because I'm hooked.

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