Kelley Armstrong always tells a good story but some stories are much more compelling than others. A story like “Bitten” grabs you by the throat and drags you into a the world of werewolves. “No Humans Involved” takes your arm and distracts you pleasantly for a while but isn’t going to change your life.
For me, the appeal of the “Women Of The Otherworld” books varies with the strength of the woman being described. If it’s Elena Michaels, the world’s only female werewolf, then I’m going to be eager to turn every page. If it’s Paige Winterbourne, a well-intentioned witch who, despite being only twenty-three, has already adopted a child (even if it is the fascinating Savanah) I know I’m going to find myself wishing there was a fast forward button for the boring bits.
“No Humans Involved” is told from the point of view of Jamie Vegas a necromancer who played a minor role in the earlier books and who now gets to take centre stage. While she’s more interesting than Paige: she sees dead people, is a born performer, a confident woman who knows how to charm and can take most people (living and dead) in her stride, but she doesn’t really have enough going for her to be the main character.
That she’s deeply in lust with Jeremy Danvers, Elena’s Alpha Werewolf, and turns into a teenage girl whenever he’s around does adds humour to what would otherwise be a very dark book.
In “No Humans Involved” Jamie is filming a TV documentary alongside some other prominent people with alleged occult powers. Part of the fun of the set up is deciding who’s fake and who’s just trying not to be outed as real. Jamie isn’t a fake. She really does see dead people. Normally, they seek her out and demand her attention. What freaks her out in this book is that the dead people seem to be haunting her: appearing in her peripheral vision before vanishing or brushing against her silently and unexpectedly. When she realizes that something very wrong happened in the house they’re filming in, she calls in Jamie for support.
I enjoyed reading the book: the plot kept my interest, the dialogue had sparkle and some of the scenes are quite moving.
The main problem I had was that “No Humans Involved” doesn’t stand on its own as a novel. It reads like an episode in a much-loved series where a charming but minor character finally gets to be the star. It filled out my understanding of Otherworld and gave me some fun insights into the series as a whole but it is a finger buffer rather than a meal. Fun if you’re in the mood for something light and good but not something to nourish your imagination.