Living with the Dead (Otherworld, Book 9)
Random House Spectra (US & CA: 21st October 2008); Hachette Orbit (UK: 6th November 2008; AU: January 2009)
An innocent human learns of the supernatural amongst us in Kelley Armstrong’s Living with the Dead.
Robyn Peltier’s client has been killed, and she’s being set up for murder. Still recovering from her husband’s death, the last thing she needs is her pal Hope Adams and her guy Karl Marsten parading their coupleness in her face, but they’re the only ones who have insight into who the murderer really is…and with whom she’s in cahoots.
But Robyn doesn’t know that Hope is a half-demon and Karl is a werewolf. And when she does find out, Hope and Karl are less than civil to her. It’s easy to relate to Robyn, who’s in over her head, and struggling with her grief. Hope and Karl, meanwhile, are rather annoying with their relationship, which takes a distinctly emo turn.
Adele Morrissey, however, is a fascinating antagonist, thanks to the new world she brings to this series. Clairvoyants are not entirely unlike werewolves – they both stick with their respective groups, and try to get work in human society. The kumpania specialises in celebrity photography, as their remote-viewing skills help them anticipate a subject’s moves, and therefore arrive before other paparazzi. This in itself isn’t interesting, but what happens in the kumpania surely is…
There are strict rules and regulations to make sure their kind doesn’t die out, which means carefully arranged pairings. To avoid birth defects from in-breeding, occasionally outsiders with clairvoyance are brought in, like Adele was when she was five. Kumpania life doesn’t suit her at all, but if she leaves they’ll murder her.
But what’s most disturbing and intriguing about the kumpania is who’s living underground – and why. It truly makes you step back and look on in awe of the author’s ideas. Wow.
Told in third-person from six points of view, if you’ve missed reading the previous books in the series, this might be the easiest (minus the first, Bitten) to read as a standalone. There’s information that’ll clue you in to what’s happened previously, but I’ve been fortunate enough to read this series in the correct order (which rarely happens with a series as long as this). And scattered amongst this novel are plenty of loose ends from various books that can, and should, be picked up later in the series. A character will be going on business to Australia, and I dearly hope my country gets some decent story time…though the “opera house” comment should’ve been revised. Try to avoid the obvious, people – there’s more to Oz than Sydney and its icons. But I’m from Melbourne 😉
Also, if you can believe that someone can survive a bullet to the brain, best keep tuned to the rest of this series, as I certainly hope this situation is explained and that the character gets more story time in future novels. The author clearly has plenty of ideas to share…all we can do is hope she chooses to write about the ones we want.