Sunday, 6 April 2008

Kelly Armstrong, Personal Demon

The latest in Kelly Armstrong's series of supernatural thrillers sees half-demon Hope Adams taking on an 'easy' job, infiltrating a gang of rebellious supernaturals, in order to repay a debt owed to Benicio Cortez. Obviously, nothing turns out to be anywhere near that simple, landing her in the middle of a much larger plot, and much more danger. That main plot pushes along nicely, with the sense of danger enhanced by Hope's lack of serious supernatural abilities. Being much more vulnerable than Kelly Armstrong's usual witches and werewolves, there's that much more tension.

Aside from the main thrust of the plot, the story provides two principal strands of interest. One focusses on Hope's attempts to control the more chaotic side of her nature, while the other is her on-off relationship with werewolf Karl Marsten. Between them, these sub-plots are what keep the book intriguing, balancing the breathless pace of the main plot with some more introspective sections.

Two slight quibbles. First, she throws in a last minute plot twist that feels a bit too obviously like an attempt to push the emotional level higher. It is, ultimately, justified in terms of forcing the characters to confront the consequences of their actions, but because it comes so much from nowhere, it initially feels like shocking the reader for its own sake. The second is that the sections written from the point of view of Lucas don't quite have the same verve to them as the rest of the book. Perhaps this is just a reflection of the reservedness at the character's heart, but I found myself much preferring the sections written in Hope's voice.

Overall though, this is a wonderful supernatural thriller, full of action, yet balanced by more than enough character depth and genuine emotion to make it a really worthwhile read.

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