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on 1 December 2008
With the exception of Haunted, I have rated every Kelley Armstrong book 5 stars. It always saddens me when I can't do that, and unfortuanately this is the case with Living with the dead.

LWTD carries on from Hope's story Personal Demon, don't let the dust jacket fool you into thinking this is Robyn's book, she hardly gets any page time. It supposedly attempts to answer the question, what happens when a human gets thrown into the dark side of the Otherworld?

This is the first time Armstrong uses the third person narrative and we have five different view points to contend with. This means that we are really actually dealing with five different stories as whilst the plots do relate to each other, the different characters all have very separate issues to contend with. This gave the plot a very disjointed feel and it was easy to miss clues relating to the story outlined on the jacket.

This also means that none of the characters are especially developed. The chapters are tiny (usually 2-3 pages) which means that we are jumping around all over the place. It was the first time when reading Armstrong that I had no concept of time passing. I also couldn't remember what had happened to each character by the next instalment of their narrative. This made for a confusing, frustrating read. I couldn't get gripped on the story line, which was sad.

It doesn't help that none of the characters are particularly redeeming either. I'm sure this is because they don't get developed properly, but for example Robyn bored me to tears and seemed to be there just as a plot device, her acceptance of her situation seemed to me unrealistic. This is a shame when you consider that their individual situations are actually interesting. A character like Finn could have a fascinating book as he becomes aware of his own place in the Otherworld. Sadly such things are passed by. Theoretically established characters like Hope were also disappointing, she bore no resemblance to her sparky character in Personal Demon and is so bogged down in relationship issues she is somewhat emotionally unstable, her grasp over her demon also appears to have slipped leaving her irrational at times.

After reading LWTD, I am left confused and unsure what I gained from the book, if anything. Not something Armstrong intended I'm sure. Dedicated fans will gain something from this book as I have done (Karl was real high point) but newcomers will be overwhelmed. Start with Bitten, and hope that in Frostbitten, the next instalment we see a return to form.
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on 19 January 2009
I still have faith in Kelley Armstrong and her Otherworld series but, after the weak No Humans Allowed and the anemic Personal Demon, this book has me up to two-and-a-half strikes now...

The somewhat perplexing trend of depowering heroines has been followed to it's natural conclusion at this point ; from barely-powered Jaime, to anti-powered Hope, to completely powerless Robyn.
I'm all for more men of the Otherworld action in books, but for a series called "Women Of The Otherworld" I just don't get what is going on here ?
I became enamored with the series back when Elena was damsel, investigator & (gory) heroine all rolled into one ; if I were just looking for 300 pages of damsel in distress followed by a shoot-out or Muscular Older Man Saves The Day! (TM) then there are whole other genres of the stuff to read from.

I don't want to keep harping on about how little Hope brings to the table, but honestly I don't know what Mrs. Armstrong is thinking with her.
She features prominently in this novel also, and is cast even more solidly as an action hero... but EVERY time she is near violence or villainy, she is paralyzed by indecision and crazy mojo juice.
Hope manages to sustain her 100% record of losing EVERY single brawl she engages in too, to further deepen the mystery of what exactly the point of her is.
Is she intended to be ironic ? A parody of post-Buffy heroines ?

In summary :
Well written, interestingly - and originally - paced, yarn.
As ever, Kelley Armstrong writes a despicable & compelling villain to loathe.
As previously, let down by making the main character too weak by half then marginalizing her to supporting cast halfway through - only this time the substitute is no better equipped for stardom either.

Readable of course, but - for the first time - eminently missable.
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on 8 November 2008
I've been a fan of Kelley Armstrong's books for years but I'm sad to say that this book is not her best. It's a good book and I passed an enjoyable evening curled up on the sofa reading this but it doesn't come up to the extremely high standards which she has set in so many of her previous books.

In 'Living with the Dead' Hope Adams (and her boyfriend Karl Marsten) is in L.A. temporarily on assignment for work, but she also there to check up on her friend Robyn Peltier who's husband was killed a few months previously. When one of Robyn's clients is murdered and Robyn becomes the prime suspect after fleeing the scene of the murder, Hope and Karl try to clear her name. Also trying to find Robyn is homicide detective John Findlay (Finn) who happens to be a necromancer. Finn is being helped track Robyn down and solve the murder by the ghost of Robyn's dead husband Damon. (I love this idea - a necromancer solving crimes with the help of a ghost sidekick!)

Robyn, Finn and Damon are interesting characters and good additions to this series, but with so many other characters center stage you never get to know any of them very well. This leads on to my first problem with this book, which is the number of point of views that are used to tell the story (Hope, Robyn, Finn, Adele, Colm). I felt that this made the story a bit too disjointed hopping from one person to another every other chapter. In her earlier books the story is told far more from one or two characters perspectives and you get to know the characters in far more depth. I've not been able to warm to Hope as much as to previous characters and I think it's partially because of the constant switching perspectives that have been used in the books which feature her.

My other problem with this book is the villain of the piece, yes she comes across as ruthless and manipulative and generally nasty but not terribly scary all things considered, and not really big and bad enough to be the major villain in a supernatural story. Maybe this was a conscious decision - that because the main character Robyn is human the supernatural baddies actions have to be scaled down more appropriately to something potentially just an everyday human criminal.

Despite the faults i've mentioned this is a good book and if you're a fan of the series already like me then you will probably enjoy it too. If you haven't read anything by Kelley Armstrong before I'd recommend that you start with Bitten and work your way through the series.
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VINE VOICEon 21 March 2010
When I found out that this book would again be featuring Hope I was disappointed, as I found Personal Demon to be the worst book of the series so far. I feel her powers are pretty boring and am not really interested in the character at all. However, this book alternates the perspective to a different character for each chapter; something which has been criticised by other reviewers for preventing real character development. My view though was that it was a good way of making a more interesting story from characters who wouldn't have carried a book by themselves.

Whilst this is not a glowing endorsement so far - and I cetainly felt the book was nowhere near as good as any of the werewolf novels - I can empathise that Armstrong probably can't keep the series going with those books alone. This new format provided a better plot than some of the others that have gone before, but I did feel it dragged a bit for the middle section of the story. If you are a fan though, it is definitely worth reading this book, and I'm sure you will enjoy it even if its not one of her best.
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on 15 September 2012
Robyn Peltier is a completely normal person trying to recover from the loss of her husband. When her new boss is murdered and she finds herself the prime suspect in a murder investigation, Robyn is way out of her depth and turns to her best friend Hope Adams for help. But Robyn doesn't know she's accidentally stumbled into a supernatural turf war, or that Hope is a half-demon and her boyfriend Karl is a werewolf. Now Robyn is forced to accept a whole new reality to save her life.

This is the ninth book in the Otherworld series (which started with Bitten) and sees a change in style. Previously the books had featured one or two narrators, while this one features five giving the story a somewhat disjointed feel. It also continues on from Hope's story in Personal Demon and this means that although this is supposed to be Robyn's book, it never really feels truly hers while the massive cast makes it hard to connect with the new characters.

The plot is cleverly written and well plotted with plenty of twists and turns, and the idea of a human being sucked in to the Otherworld is interesting. The storyline feels darker than the other books, featuring several abusive situations and unsympathetic characters. Even one character who I started the book feeling sorry for ended up being someone I despised by the end of the book. There is also pretty much no romance in the book, except in those scenes featuring Hope and Karl who are toning down their relationship so as not to upset Robyn.

The world building focuses mainly on clairvoyants who haven't received a massive amount of attention in previous installments due to their rarity. It is interesting to see how a group of supernaturals have separated themselves from others in order to protect themselves. It has been made clear in the past that the Cabals are desperate for clairvoyants so to see that relationship from the clairvoyants perspective adds a new dimension.

It does feel that this is setting up the end-game of the series (which will play out in the final three books Waking The Witch,Spell Bound and 13), especially when the book ends with Hope considering all of the unusual events from Broken (book 6) onwards. It does bring these events to the front of the readers mind, but it is another feature that makes this book feel less like Robyn's and more like a gap filler in the series.

All in all, this was an interesting read and I'm looking forward to Frostbitten.

Plot: 8/10
Characters: 8/10
Ending: 9/10
Enjoyment: 7/10
Cover: 7/10

Overall: 39/50
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on 10 November 2008
I agree with the first review. A good read but certainly not the best in the series. I'm not a fan of Hope as a main character and would have preferred Karl to have a larger role than he did. In saying that, I did like her character better in this book than I did in the last. She doesn't come across as quite as helpless as previous.
If you are looking for a quick and easy read then I do recommend this. It's entertaining but as I've already mentioned certainly not the best. Won't stop me from looking forward to future publications from this author.
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on 19 June 2010

Generally im a huge fan of Kelley and her "women of the otherworld" series.
This however.... Was a big pile of poop!

This book continues with Hope ( who i generally dont like as shes a bit of a wet fish! But we deal with it cause Kelley writes well!!) whos friend is in trouble. Big trouble! So with the FIIIIINE Karl Martsen in tow off they go to save the day
instead of following her traditional norm of first person writing Kelley goes to third!! Which is confusing(this is the 9th book i think) as the other 8 are in first you can undestand where the confusion come in! She also jumps around between around 4-5 characters making it confusing and i lost my place often. They are also (appart from Hope) all new characters. I think if they had been old characters from past books it would have been ok as you know there back story better but the new charcters arent developed well. I would also find myself rereading chapters to find out where i was and what the new ( and very confusing) characters were doing!!

Generally the story lines ok but with all the changing characters who are all over the place its hard to get into. If you enjoyed the series it is good to read for the fact of it being part of the series (and you never know with Kelley when past characters will pop up) But it isnt an easy read!

BUT!!! Dont worry!! Frostbitten returns to Kelleys old form ;)
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on 1 October 2009
I'm glad I read this book, but I equally glad that I waited for the paperback and not splashed out on the hardback. I agree with other reviewers that there is just too many points of view. Who is suppossed to be the hero here? Why not just write the book in the third person, rather than from 4 points of view?
The reason I'm glad I read the book is that I think it is the start of a larger story line. Its not a bad book, but not on par with the rest of the OtherWorld series.
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on 24 December 2009
While I normally love Kelley's work, the sheer volume of books she's releasing in a year are clearly having an affect upon the quality of the work. This book is disjointed, with the number of viewpoints/chapters spread too thin, which means you can feel less at home with each character or sympathise/empathise with them. The story is thinner too and seems more a jumping off point for something bigger which could have done with more work. However, for those of you who are fans, our half chaos Demon Hope and Werewolf Karl return and there is the introduction of a policeman/necromancer who may get more than a bit part in future tales. This time out Kelley takles the cultists of the otherworld and shows us another facet of her well imagined flipside to the everyday lives we lead. Anyone who could suspend disbelief to watch Buffy can enjoy Ms Armstrong's work. But be warned this is not a book for those unfamilar with her world. Better to start with one of her earlier works for that. the strongest tales in her pantheon are still those with Elena the werewolf, so look forward to the paperback outing of her next hardback featuring the same and steer clear of this one unless you are a completist.
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on 28 May 2012
NOw don't get me wrong, I did like this book, its decent enough and didn't fail to keep me reading, but I just don't think its to the same standard of writing as the previous books in the series. In this book we see the story from several (5) points of view and all written in third person. Straight away it makes you take a step back from the characters in comparisson to previous books. Firstly because we are following five separate characters its hard to get a detailed read into any of them. Secondly because its third person we get less of a look into the characters personality.

The story itself is pretty decent, its interesting at least and different from any of the previous stories in the series, we also see a more human-based angle due to two of the characters being, for the most part, human and ignorant of most things supernatural. On the flip side we still get a good dose of the supernatural through Hope and Karl.

In general its a good book, but could have been alot better i believe.
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