Living with the Dead by Kelley Armstrong

I know I skipped over the two Rardin books and Grimspace, but I have a really good reason! I was shocked out of my sweat pants when I finished Living with the Dead and realized it had a Crab-fishing Boat ending. Let me explain…

Kelley Armstrong was one of the first Urban Fantasy authors I read as an adult. Bitten made me fall in love with the characters, the world, and caused me to drool all over myself, waiting for more.

As her series has progressed different narrators have been introduced, but she’s stayed mostly in the first person. Living with the Dead is the first one I can think of where it is completely third person. With multiple, multiple narrators. I normally can’t stand it when the author does that, but Kelley managed a smooth transition from narrator to narrator even though they had such differing personalities.

There was Hope, my favorite half-demon, whose role was helping Robyn, the completely human, normal narrator the story focused on while being pursued by Detective Finn, a man who sees ghosts but doesn’t quite know why. Of course where there’s Hope there’s Karl, the most fascinating werewolf second only to Clay. I’ve loved Karl since he helped Elena escape during Bitten while remaining unapologetic. Also joining the ranks were Colm and Adele, two clairvoyants whose relationship and family life made the guys from Deliverance look almost normal.

The negative of this barrage of voices culminated in the ending. Though the brunt of the story focused on Robyn, a story arc was created for Hope and Karl and their strained relationship. I’ll admit I’m becoming a sex fiend when it comes to my books, so the fact that there wasn’t any lovin’ depicted did rankle a bit, but the romance Armstrong infused helped fill the hole. Hope and Karl’s relationship was brought to a new level in this installment and you’re allowed into Karl’s heart more while secretly wanting to throw Hope against a wall and shake her while yelling, “For the love of God woman, how blind can you be??” But the back and forth between the two arcs didn’t allow the reader to fully connect with any of the speakers.

Crab-fishing Boat Syndrome didn’t show itself until the wrap-up stage. Hope was given the honor of escorting us out of the world, but not before a parting shot:

  • Hope knew it might just be her overly active imagination. Maybe exhaustion and stress were making her see connections where none existed. Or maybe her demon blood knew–just knew–that all this meant something, that change was coming, that she would have a role to play. A role for the good? She hoped so. But she couldn’t shake the feeling that when the time came, the choice might not be hers to make. And that scared her more than anything.

Behold, the mother of all Crab-fishing Boats! *head desk* But hark…is it a successful Crab-fishing Boat?? How can it be??

Because I know there are at least two more books in the series! In this case, Armstrong has reviewed plot points that she’s left open in the past few books so (and this is just conjecture) when they’re touched upon in future books, you’re not left going “Um…WTF?” This is different than the example I gave in the initial C-f B blog because in that instance, there was no guarantee any of those points would ever be mentioned again.

As a story, Living with the Dead isn’t one of my favorites, but it’s still an excellent book. It’s introduced a few new characters (Robyn and Finn) that should be interesting to explore and pushed forward the Hope/Karl arc. I’m left chewing my nails, wondering what effect this book is going to have on the Otherworld and its inhabitants, and if we’ll be allowed to see it to the end.

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