Personal Demon (Women of the Otherworld, book 8), by Kelley Armstrong

This is the latest entry in the Women of the Otherworld series, oncologist and therefore will be my last Kelley Armstrong review for a while. I’m sure some of you are relieved. I’m a bit relieved, to be caught up with the series, but a little sad that I have to wait until November for the next one. Here’s the last review; I link to all the others in it.

Anyway, we met Hope Adams, Expisco half-demon (her father was Lucifer — yeah, that Lucifer — no, not Satan). She’s attracted to chaos and can see it in a sort of clairvoyant fashion. And by ‘attracted to chaos’, I mean attracted. She owes Benicio Cortez (Lucas’s father) half a favor; the debt is shared by Karl Marsten, a recent addition to the werewolf Pack. (He’d been a lone wolf before that.) Benicio calls in the favor one day, when he was having trouble with one of the gangs in Miami. He only calls Hope, though, not Karl, because he needs Hope to play a society girl, and doesn’t have much use for Karl. Anyway, Hope infiltrates the gang and thinks she’s discovered a plot against the Cabals (sorcerer family businesses), but then it gets so much deeper and more complicated than anyone could possibly have expected.

New to this book is the sharing of points of view. While Hope narrates (in the first-person) probably two-thirds of the book, the intervening third of the chapters are narrated by Lucas. He, of course, doesn’t quite qualify as a Woman of the Otherworld, but having read the book, I realize that Armstrong had very little choice. Either Lucas had to narrate those chapters, or the book wouldn’t make sense. I like Lucas, though, as I’m sure most readers do, and he makes a perfectly fine narrator and a good foil to Hope.

Hope’s relationship with Karl is the romantic focus of the book, but again, surprisingly, Hope has a bit of a fling with another character at the beginning. Karl is a jewel thief by night, and a werewolf all of the time. He’d pushed Hope away once, not just because of the age gap between them (he’s fifty, she’s twenty-seven, although since he is a werewolf he looks like he’s in his thirties). She finds it hard to trust him with anything more than friendship, because of their past and all that she does know about him. Undeniably they’ve got chemistry, and I’ve liked them together since I read the short story that introduced her. (“Chaotic”, in Dates from Hell, an anthology.)

Another major theme in the book is politics — Cabal politics. Lucas Cortez is his father’s named heir, and when things go wonky in the Cabal, he has much to do. The gangs in Miami with which the book is concerned are supernatural gangs, not human ones. Each gang contains many supernaturals who have Cabal ties; some of them are rebelling against the Cabals. Lucas, as usual, spends a good deal of time thinking about Cabals, in specific his own. Although we’ve gotten his views on Cabals many times, this is the first time we’re inside his head regarding them, and I liked the view.

Hope spends a good deal of time worried about her powers, and while we always know why (she worries that her attraction to chaos may stop her from helping people in situations), we discover a bit more about a half-sibling of hers towards the end of the book. It would be particularly uncomfortable to be in that situation, but Hope still seems to have her head on her shoulders. I did like reading about her self-doubt and recriminations; she felt more human. One thing about Hope that is a bit odd is that she appears completely Indian (her mother is Indian, and half-demons get all their looks from their mothers) but no one reacts to her as if she is other than a police officer in the very beginning. Other than that, I guess that in Miami, she’s mistaken for some flavor of Latina. (Armstrong never quite said.) I’ve never been to Miami, and I’m not Indian, so I don’t know how likely this is, but it still struck me as odd. Hope speaking and thinking as if she were completely American made sense (her father is Anglo and she was born and raised here), but I expected a few more reactions from other people.

I enjoyed the book quite a bit, but I doubt it would make quite as much sense to anyone who hadn’t read at least some of the previous seven novels and maybe even the novella I mentioned earlier. In terms of the series, I liked it a little more than book 7, but not as much as book 3 or 4. It’s still not a series for children; there’s sex, violence, and death, but no serial killers, historical or otherwise in this volume. 4/5 stars.

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