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Personal Demon by Kelley Armstrong

1/01/2010. Contributed by Neale Monks

Buy Personal Demon in the USA - or Buy Personal Demon in the UK

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pub: Bantam Spectra. 371 page small hardback. Price: $20.00 (US). ISBN: 978-0-553-80661-8Bantam Spectra. 523 page paperback. Price: $ 6.99 (US). ISBN: 978-0-553-58820-0pub: Orbit. 371 page small hardback. Price: 12.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-84149-695-5pub: Orbit: 476 page paperback. 7.99 (UK) ISBN: 978-1-84149-397-8). Women Of The Otherworld book 8.

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This is the eighth book in Kelley Armstrong's 'Women Of The Otherworld' series of novels. As the series title suggests, these books are written with what purports to be a more feminine sensibility than usual. 'Personal Demon' at least fits and is very post-Buffy in its style and structure, with lots of kick-ass female characters channelling their emotional angst into solving mysteries and slaying demons, both metaphorical and literal. Well, that's the aim at least. In reality, 'Personal Demon' is harmless enough escapism without anything particularly challenging to say about the female perspective.

The main story revolves around a half-demon woman by the name of Hope Adams. Beautiful, intelligent, rich and psychically tuned to the supernatural world, she's a successful news reporter as well as an amateur sleuth. In this case, she's investigating a series of murders but, unlike the police, her psychic abilities mean that she's able to see visions of the events behind the murders.

While the A-plot is simple enough, it's complicated by the presence of an ex-boyfriend, Karl, who also happens to be a werewolf. This angst-ridden B-plot is presumably the chick-lit part of the novel though, if like the reviewer, the reader hadn't read any of the preceding books, a lot of this stuff would probably fly over the reader's head. But fans of the series will doubtless enjoy this part of things for the extra depth it gives the characters.

The story is told mostly from the perspective of one character, but at times from another. For the most part this works reasonably well, but there's no real difference to how the characters perceive things because their motives and beliefs aren't really drawn out. So the whole thing is more a literary conceit than a clever way of revealing two different ways of comprehending one set of events.

Inevitably, being chick-lit, there's a lot of talking about feelings. Or acting on them. Or simply having them. All things that most characters in most fantasy novels never waste time with. Adams wants her independence but she also wants to be loved. She finds a new guy who seems just right, but it turns out he isn't and, to make matters worse, her ex turns up. All very 'Buffy'.

Pacing is variable and it does take a bit of time before things really become engaging. There is a lot of romance and even some sex, so in at least a couple of ways this book reads very differently to average mass-market fantasy novel. On the other hand, for fans of books like 'Twilight' this sort of thing will doubtless appeal strongly. Overall, an entertaining, easy-to-read fantasy-romance.
Neale Monkes

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