Living with the Dead tells the story of Robyn Peltier, a PR rep recovering from her husband’s recent death and living in Los Angeles. When one of her clients, Paris Hilton-wannabe Portia Kane, is murdered, and Robyn is found at the murder scene with her prints on the gun, she finds herself at the top of LA’s most wanted list. With the help of her best friend Hope, and Hope’s boyfriend Karl, Robyn hopes prove her innocence. Unfortunately, the real murderer, dangerous clairvoyant, Adele, won’t rest until she stops Robyn. Robyn is pulled into the supernatural world of werewolves, half-demons, ghosts, and necromancers, where being only human is dangerous.
Living with the Dead is a fast paced book filled with almost non-stop action. Believe it or not, that’s actually its biggest weakness. With chase sequence after chase sequence, one eventually feels that there’s a lot of running around with not much getting accomplished story wise. Characterization suffers as a result. Robyn is not necessarily a bad lead, but I felt as if we don’t really get to know her. We hear characters, like Hope, go on and on about how she’s so put together and calm, but never really see that because the novel never really comes up to take a breath. As a result, we end up learning more about Robyn from other characters, then from Robyn herself, which is always a big red flag to me. The return of Hope and Karl is nice. Although I don’t like Hope as much as Armstrong’s other leads (Elena, Paige, Eve, and Jamie), her relationship with Karl is unique, as are her paranormal abilities. Still, I felt that what was hinted about Hope’s future was a lot more interesting than what actually happened to her in the book. I struggled to connect to her as a character, often not quite understanding her actions or reactions.
There are a few places where Armstrong does succeed, and that’s when she gets into the paranormal world building. The kumpania, a cult made up of clairvoyants, was very interesting to learn about. I found some of their practices to be incredibly disturbing. I also found Adele to be a chilling villain. Some of the things she does (especially to her fellow clairvoyants) are so immoral and twisted, that I was shocked at how she could always view herself as blameless in the end. I also liked the new character of Finn (although I wish we got to see more of him), and the return of some old favorites. Also, the ending is quite suspenseful.
There is the chance I may be too harsh on this one, if just because I happened to listen to the audiobook version. The narrator has a sing-song voice that got on my nerves. I was frustrated with a lot of her voices, which left most characters sounding ditzy, stoned, or congested. Perhaps I would have enjoyed it more if I had read the actual book. Regardless, I feel as if the story could have benefited more from a more cohesive first person perspective, or dual perspective like in Personal Demon. Despite my conflicted feelings over the book, I am looking forward to the next volume, which returns to Elena as the narrator, and the following two, which feature Savannah (yay!).
Rating: three stars
Length: the print version is 372 pages
TBR Pile: 144 books
Similar Books: Kim Harrison's The Hollows Series, Jim Butcher's Dresden Files Series (find reviews here), and previous Women of the Otherworld books
Other books I've read by this book: Bitten, Stolen, Dime Store Magic, Industrial Magic, Haunted, Broken, No Humans Involved, Personal Demon, The Summoning (my review), The Awakening (my review), Exit Strategy (my review)
Next up I'm listening to the audiobook of The Invisible Ring by Anne Bishop (so far, pretty good) and a much more satisfying Kelley Armstrong book, Men of the Otherworld.
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