Sunday 6 April 2008

Personal Demon by Kelley Armstrong

Hope Adams, a rare Expisco half-demon, has inherited a hunger for chaos from her demon father. When Benicio Cortez asks her to go undercover in a new supernatural gang for the Cortez Cabal, it's an opportunity to feed her addiction to chaos and to pay back the favour she owes the Cabal. But before long things are spiralling out of control and Hope is out of her depth. If she's to get out of this alive, she'll need more than her attraction for chaos. It will be up to Karl Marsten (werewolf) and Lucas Cortez (sorcerer) to help her survive.

I have to admit Hope is not my favourite Kelley Armstrong character. I've got the anthology with her introductory short story in my TBR pile (possibly another book for TBR day). I think I considered her my Paige Winterbourne. So I was kind of going into this thinking I wouldn't like it, or perhaps I would be disappointed. (This is the second book I've read recently where I've been underwhelmed at the prospect of the heroine, and the second time I'm happy to have been proved wrong.) :)

I know I've said this before, so feel free to skip this paragraph, but as a Kelley Armstrong fan, the thing I love about her writing is how quickly she can get you into a character's head. So almost despite myself I'm sucked into the story.

Kelley Armstrong plays a tight line in this book. Too far one way and Hope loses all sympathy with the reader. One thing Hope proves over and over throughout the story is that she's not the best judge of anyone's character. She makes assumptions about Karl's feelings but is quick to accept other people (the gang members) at face value. So I find what I like most about Hope is how her relationship with Karl is explored.

I've liked Karl since his first appearance in Bitten, so love the expanded role he now has in the series. And he and Hope make a great pair, they are two flawed people who ultimately find a home in each other.
"I've never lived with anyone, Karl."
"Neither have I."
"I drool in my sleep."
"I know. It's cute."

Karl is much older than Hope, and it's his experience of having to deal with his werewolf side that allows him to help Hope with her chaos addiction. Hope is an addict, she suffers from an addiction which she can't get away from because it's genetic. In the same way that Karl can never get away from his werewolf.

Lucas Cortez is the second narrator of Personal Demon. This dual protagonist approach allows us to experience two different sides to the story. I'm always glad when we find out more about the Cabals, since reading Industrial Magic (Book 4) it's a part of this world that fascinates me. So one of the major things that lifted this story for me is the further insight into the workings of the Cabal. You can almost feel the tentacles of the Cabal structure pulling Lucas in. And it's also pretty obvious (to me anyway) that he would be a worthy successor to his father.

This dual narration also allows us to 'see' Karl from both Hope and Lucas's point of view. Okay, it's obvious Karl is my favourite character. :)

Although I think you could read this book and enjoy it if you've not read any of the other books in the series as Hope is a relatively new character and Karl has only played a small role in the other books. There is an awful lot here that picks up on events and characters from the previous seven books. There are references back to events in Books 2,3,4 and 7. There's also a very nice (but brief) update on Clay and Elena.

And once again I find myself counting down the days 'til the next Kelley Armstrong release.


Anonymous said...

thanks for the review

I liked the anthology story (admittedly because I share your intrerest in Karl) but I'm not sure how I feel about the book and Hope needing rescue (the impression the blurb gives me) used to Kelley writing stronger female roles. But as you say her gift is getting you into the characters head, I was begruding to pick up Paige's book then ended up liking her. It's a safe bet that I'll be buying this book.

I'm looking forward to her next assasin book though, I liked Exit Strategy.

Naomi said...

Hope the flu is going away!

I struggle with Armstrong, because I love her werewolf books, but am bored stupid by her Paige books. I'm intrigued by this one, but really don't fancy paying out for the hardback.

Carolyn Crane said...

This is great news. I can't wait to read this one, and I'm so glad you liked it. I'll be curious, too, about that Clay and Elena update. It's been so long.

LesleyW said...

Clare - I'm also looking forward to the next Nadia Stafford book. I was really bummed when it got put back to 2009.

Naomi - Yay! the flu has gone. :) If you don't like the other supernaturals then you probably won't be keen on this one. But for werewolf stuff it's definitely worth getting for Karl. Maybe pick up the paperback instead.

Carolyn Jean - The update is just a couple of pages, but it will make you smile. It's very Clay.

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear you're feeling better! Good point about being able to see Karl from Hope's and Lucas's perspective - I didn't think about that.

I still think it would have been nice to get Karl's POV - maybe the next book, huh?

LesleyW said...

Li - when I heard there was going to be a male narrator for this book (before it was announced as Lucas). I knew Karl was appearing and I so wanted it to be him. :)