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|Written by Shannon Wood|
|Wednesday, 30 April 2008 19:00|
Hope Adams doesn’t fit in with her family or friends - and not just because her mother was an Indian princess. Her uniqueness actually comes from her paternal side; having Lucifer for a dad will certainly create some issues. It doesn’t help that her only real romantic possibility spends a great deal of time on four limbs, is covered with hair and likes his meat raw, as in bloody. If that isn’t bad enough, she can't help getting…excited…at people’s anger, fears or deaths. Who needs alcohol or ecstasy when you have all those chaos vibes flying? In case you haven’t guessed, Hope’s life is very different from yours or mine - but what else would you expect from an Expisco (chaos) demon?
This is just the latest character that Kelley Armstrong has launched into her Women of the Otherworld series. This latest instalment, Personal Demon, was released in Canada on March 25. Hope is the fifth female narrator in the series, and the first living half demon. She is also one of the first characters who must hide her abilities from her family, boss and peers. This enforced secrecy allows Armstrong to explore areas that have previously been closed due to the constructions of her past characters.
Armstrong is an increasingly popular Canadian author who has been working at such a suspicious speed, and with such amazing results, that one might suspect she is tapping into the Otherworld she has been creating since her first book. Bitten was launched into the supernatural cannon in 2001; Personal Demon is the eighth book in the series, and already the next one, Living With the Dead, is scheduled for release in November of this year. She is a force to be reckoned with on the Canadian fiction scene.
Personal Demon returns the series to Miami and the Cortez Cabal features heavily in the plot. The Cortez Cabal is so deeply involved because Lucas Cortez of Dime Store Magic and Industrial Magic fame helps Hope out in the narration in her initial full-length book. Benicio once again appears as the likeable but highly suspect, shadowy, mafia don-like C.E.O. who is pulling all the strings of the plot. Fun Cortez cameos include the ever enjoyable Troy Morgan, Benicio’s Tempestras bodyguard, Sean Nast, who still needs to get in touch with his magical roots to summon courage, and the stealthy and elusive Karl Marsten who, despite his smooth veneer, is still quite wolfy. The legitimate Cortez brothers also get unprecedented coverage, which they use to prove they’re as sleazy and dangerous as expected. However, Personal Demon simultaneously answers and creates more questions for the future of the Cortez Cabal.
Armstrong also ventures farther into the supernatural world than she has since Stolen compiled several races into a magical compound created by a rich computer geek sociopath. The story of Personal Demon is concerned with the supernatural youth warring against the Cabals, and it picks up the threads of discontent and turmoil first hinted at in Industrial Magic.
Hope is the perfect narrator for such a story because of the unique position she has in the Otherworld. Hope is the only character who has had to discover her demon heritage without the help of a support group. Elena had the pack to teach those vital werewolf skills, the Coven and her mother helped Paige become a witch, Jamie had her grandmother to teach her the necromancing ways, and even though Eve quickly shook them loose she still grew up in the coven setting. Although these characters’ journey to mastering or accepting their individual abilities was no walk in the park (or a run in Elena’s case), they still had experienced members of their species to guide them. Hope, in contrast, grew up in an upper class home in Baltimore without any clue that the man she thought of as her father hadn’t contributed anything biologically to her conception. When she started coming into her powers as an adolescent, she had to figure out the process on her own.
This personal history, as well as her age, makes her the perfect choice for Benicio’s latest manipulative scheme. The Cortez Cabal has discovered a gang of supernatural twenty-somethings with a serious grudge against them, and has uncovered some rumblings of the gang’s plan to exact some revenge. Hope, as a younger supernatural new to the area and without any discernible connections to the cabal, is ideally suited to carry out the Cortez’s scheme - especially considering she owes Benicio a favour after the adventure in “Chaotic” (in the Dates from Hell anthology), and Hope is eager to erase her debt to the C.E.O. of the most powerful of all the sorcerer cabals.
Hope infiltrates the gang and quickly endears herself to them with her unique ability to read chaos vibes which, for a gang bent on mischief and revenge, is a valuable skill to have. During her undercover adventure, she begins a promising relationship with a member of the gang and begins to rethink her own future.
This book provides us with a fresh narrator that allows us to explore a new aspect of Armstrong’s popular Otherworld. Although this is an excellent addition to Armstrong’s series, it sparks a desire for the return of the more familiar narrators. Fans are awaiting the next Elena novel with eager anticipation. However, I have a feeling that Hope will be appreciated and enjoyed by fans of the Otherworld. (Give her a chance!) I have been reading Kelley Armstrong since Bitten, and highly suggest that anyone interested in the supernatural scene should start reading her series - it fills the empty hole Buffy has left in all our hearts.
© 2008 Shannon Wood; licensee (Cult)ure Magazine.