Fantasy, Mystery/Thriller, Series

Omens by Kelley Armstrong – Cainsville #1

One of my best friends really loves Kelley Armstrong and has been urging me to read one of her books for a long time. So I took a look at some of her work. I know she is a very popular author and is well-known for her Otherworld series but it is a LONG series and I didn’t think I would have the time to plunge into that right now. The Cainsville series seemed really interesting so I decided to start here!

24-year-old Olivia Taylor-Jones has the perfect life. She is the only child of a wealthy, prominent Chicago family, and she is engaged to a handsome CEO who is entering the political field. But Olivia’s world shatters when she learns that she is adopted and her real parents are notorious serial killers, Todd and Pamela Larsen, who are in prison serving a life sentence. When the media makes a field day out of this news, Olivia sees no choice but to go into hiding. She ends up int he small town of Cainsville, Illinois, an old and tight-knit community that takes a shine to Olivia … and harbors secrets of its own. When Olivia becomes acquainted with her mother’s former lawyer, Gabriel Walsh (who also has ties to Cainsville), Olivia decides to take the opportunity to uncover her birth parents’ past. But as Olivia and Gabriel dig deeper into the crimes, Olivia finds herself drawing on abilities that she never knew she had, abilities that make her valuable to Cainsville but make her vulnerable to unknown enemies. It seems there are darker secrets and powers in play than Olivia could ever have imagined.

There are so many things that I loved about this novel and I want to talk about all of it so I’m going to try to approach this systematically:

When I first picked up this book, it was labelled as an urban fantasy. After reading this novel, I’m going to have to disagree with this classification. There is very little fantasy elements in this novel. Olivia is not going around tapping into some kind of magical power and using it. The title aptly describes the kind of supernatural influence that is pervasive in this novel: it’s all about seeing omens and interpreting them. There are also allusions to Wiccan rituals and fairies and other supernatural beings …. but they are not too heavily involved. First and foremost, this novel is a mystery. We follow Olivia and Gabriel as they go back into the past and try to uncover who was really behind some of the deaths that Olivia’s birth parents were accused of. Even when we do get to the bottom of the investigation that is at the forefront of this novel, the author has left enough room for the story to continue to delve deeper and expose bigger secrets in the following novels. That is one of the things that I really enjoyed about this novel; it did a great job of setting the scene for the story that is going to come in the next book. Incidentally, as soon as I finished this book, I went out and got the next one in the series. So that should be a good indication of how well the author was able to tease me into wanting to read more.

I really loved the characters. Gabriel and Olivia are sarcastic, selfish, and absolutely perfect. They are a great team and I loved reading about their interactions. If you are looking for a strong romance connection between them, you will be disappointed. But that is one of the things I loved: the romance was not strong! For once, the relationship between 2 main characters did not end in love!!!!! The fact that the author deviated from the stereotype made for a far more interesting relationship between the main characters. I loved their banter and their sarcasm and their confusion about each other and their tentative friendship.

The writing style is nothing elaborate or fancy. And that made it perfect for this story. Everything was told as it is, with no crazy metaphors. You got everything point-blank. This worked in the story’s favor because it made me really connect with the emotions and the characters. I laughed, I freaked out … I felt everything genuinely. The chapters were mostly told in Olivia’s perspective but there were other perspectives thrown in here and there that made the story pop out. The different perspectives had that supernatural aspect that the author alluded to in her blurb, and it made me curious to see where the story would go.

When the final pieces of the puzzle came together, I was a bit skeptical. I don’t know if I really loved the direction the author took in terms of the perpetrators of the murder but it was unusual and I’m interested in seeing where the author takes it in the next novel.

With all this being said, I really loved this novel and had a great experience. I would not recommend this book to anyone looking for a strong supernatural/fantasy novel; this is better suited for someone who likes mysteries that have elements of the supernatural thrown in. It was a fast-paced action-packed read with an awesome duo taking the stage, and I cannot wait to read the next book in the series!

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