on 21 August 2013
Olivia Taylor Jones is living the perfect life. Engaged to the perfect man, heir to a department store fortune and contemplating going back to college, little does she know all that can change in an instant. When journalists uncover her heritage, Olivia not only learns she is adopted but she is the daughter of notorious serial killers, Todd and Pamela Larsen. Fleeing from the press and desperate to live without hand-outs from her adoptive family, Olivia soon finds herself in the isolated town of Cainsville. A town where outsiders aren't welcome...but maybe Olivia is.
I know, we're all a little sad after the end of The Women of the Otherworld series but Kelley Armstrong knows how to make everything better. Omens marks the start of a great new supernatural thriller series and I have to say I loved every minute of it. There's really only a hint at the otherworldly in this opening instalment, but something's definitely odd about Cainsville and Olivia's talent for spotting omens treads along the line of explainable. There are so many bizarre and conflicting superstitions out there, I loved this take on them (also handy for weather forecasting).
It starts off a little like a glossy chick-lit story, until the news breaks and Olivia basically goes on the run from the press. She has nothing to be ashamed of but they are looking for every reason to compare her to her parents. Socialite turned sociopath would be the perfect headline. Olivia starts to doubt herself, pondering nature over nurture and shunning the people from her old life. So she must find out as much as she can about her biological parents; just so she can know the truth. Whether guilty or innocent, she wants to know what her genes are capable of and unlock the dormant memories she always thought were just dreams.
Whilst Gabriel Walsh is nothing like Lucas Cortez, it's interesting that there's another lawyer as a main character. A lawyer who is instinctively disliked by Olivia but manages to prove his worth, whatever his motives. I loved that he was described as having weird eyes but that made him creepy. How often in books do the characters swoon over the unique eye colouring of someone that we know would really be unnerving in real life?
It's a real page turner, with loads of elements that all weave together perfectly. Intrigue, conspiracies, betrayal and curtain twitching neighbours. I am excited to see where this series goes.
Review copy provided by publisher.
on 21 August 2013
If you loved the Otherworld books with their complex, fully realised characters and world, you will love this. It has similar features, admittedly - a heroine who is strong, smart, and self-directed, a guy with a complex past who may turn out to be more than an investigative partner, and a mystery they set out to solve - but the difference lies in a setup for a new and intriguing supernatural element that is only just unfurling in this book and which suggests so many different possibilities you will be dying to keep reading. Once the story hits the town of Cainsville, it takes on this whole other fascinating layer which sets it apart from your standard paranormal mystery/romance fare, and I hope this promise is followed through in the next book (soon!). I love how real and flawed her characters are, and the author has a knack for building mysteries and suspense, but for me, I just long to spend more time in Cainsville and find out what its secrets are!
on 21 August 2013
Olivia is an only child heiress to a retail fortune. A society brat who is expected to be nothing more than a philanthropist and a pretty trophy wife to her future husband. That's fine and she is already halfway there, engaged to a charismatic future senator, but Olivia feels stifled and doesn't fit it. If she is honest with herself she would rather get a job and find out about what it feels like to actually earn the money she spends. It turns out that she won't have to wait long to find out what that's like. Olivia is revealed to be adopted and her biological parents are notorious serial killers. Unable to cope with the media and the cold attitude of her family Olivia runs away trying to hide and find answers. What she doesn't realise is she is unwittingly being guided to mysterious town called Cainsville - and they've been expecting her. There is something strange about the town and its inhabitants but Olivia isn't sure what exactly. Along with the help of her real mothers former lawyer Gabriel, Olivia sets out to either prove or disprove her parents innocence. She soon becomes entangled in an investigation that is a lot more dangerous that it seems and if the omens are right, she could find the end of her new life much quicker than she wanted to.
I am very biased when it comes to Kelley Armstrong as she has always been a favourite author of mine so I was extremely excited to start reading the Cainsville series. Olivia is a likeable enough character. Thankfully Kelley spared us from any whining about how tough life into be rich and instead gave a character that even though she wasn't too happy in her life, knew she was extremely fortunate and therefore did not bitch and moan about how difficult it was to have money. If that had been the case I wouldn't have liked the character at all. As it was I took a while to warm to her but ended up thinking she was a great lead that has a bit of something missing and I'm still not quite sure what that something is. The story was fast paced and I couldn't put it down even at 3am. It starts off with action and throws you right into the plot rather than building up to it which was great. As a first book in a series you are introduced to Cainsville but nothing is really explained about the creepy goings on. Told in first person you only know what Olivia does and therefore you are only going to find out along with her. The only other insight is the few odd chapters told from a Cainsville residents point of view which I really enjoyed and gave you one or two hints more than Olivia that something is really weird in that place. A really good set up for the future books. Cainsville itself almost seems like a character in its own right. The supernatural element is being introduced very slowly and it is leaving me on tenterhooks for the next one.
I really liked the mystery and crime solving element of the book. A great read that was very different to the otherworld or Nadia Stafford series and to me that makes it even better. Kelley is still one of my favourite authors and this was a great story so well worth a read.
on 16 September 2013
Cainsville is like a missing link between Kelley Armstrong's Otherworld and Nadia Stafford series: There's a bit of supernatural stuff, but generally it's more about crime. Maybe it's because OMENS is the first in a trilogy, but at times it feels like it goes off on tangents. It also seems a bit long - did we really need all those job-seeking and house-hunting scenes? Perhaps they're included to slow the novel's pace, but they don't feel necessary.
There's a spoilery plot element that I absolutely love - and it's not supernatural. You'll know when you get to it. If we're on the same wavelength ;-) But I will say this: Anita Mosley is the most fascinating character. Her story interests me more than Olivia's, to be honest.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to look up the English translations of these Welsh words...
When we first meet her, Olivia Taylor-Jones is the heiress to a retail fortune and has a life of wealth and privilege. Her beloved father is dead and her mother a little needy; but she is looking forward to marrying James, who is a possible future senator, and intends to build a career and a life for herself with him. All these hopes and dreams come crashing down one evening, when a news story breaks which reveals that Olivia's real name is Eden Larsen and that she was adopted - taken away from her biological parents, who are the notorious serial killers Todd and Pamela Larsen. Regardless of the shock that Olivia herself feels, those around her take the news even more badly than she does. Her adoptive mother retreats from the intrusive press and flees, thinking only of herself, and James suggests they delay the wedding...
Feeling abandoned and alone, Olivia decides to go away for a while - but it is harder than she imagines to get a job and provide for herself. However, strange occurrences lead Olivia to move to the small town of Cainsville, where she finds both an apartment and a job in a diner. Cainsville is a strange little place, full of superstitions and quirky characters. As Olivia is more than a little superstitious herself, she is sceptical, but also feels hidden and safer in this small - and welcoming - community. Olivia's birth parents were sentenced for the murder of four couples and she is unable to remember more than glimpses of her past. She is not in Cainsville long when she seems to see various omens and sense things that she cannot explain. She begins to investigate her parents and is soon approached by Gabriel Walsh, the attorney who represented her birth mother. The two team up and begin to investigate the crimes together in an uneasy alliance, to see whether Pamela Larsen's claim that she, and her husband, were framed for the crimes is the truth.
This novel has plus and minus points. I have never read anything by this author before and, to be fair, doubt I would have picked this up unless it had been chosen by my book club as our monthly choice. I found the crime story confused by the `all too cute' Stepford like town of Cainsville; where the elderly residents are treated with special respect, Gabriel's aunt is the resident psychic and hidden gargoyles abound. Olivia seemed too sensible to be counting ravens and indulging in endless superstitions, although obviously there were links between her feelings and her birth mother. Also, it seemed really unlikely that her adoptive mother, who had obviously gone to some lengths to adopt her, would have abandoned her so quickly. On the plus side, I generally liked Olivia and the character of Gabriel Walsh. The two embark on an investigation to see whether they can clear the names of the Larsen's and I thought Gabriel's desire for control and monetary gain brought more realism to the plot (although he had far more scruples than I would have liked!). It was an easy read and, possibly, the entire trilogy needs to be read before the storyline becomes clear.
on 19 September 2014
But it's an interesting place. This book is set out much better than most in this genre. It has a certain believability to it with the way Eden/Olivia questions everything she 'sees' as if she knows there is something more to it but can't quite believe it because 'normal' society has programmed her know better. Yet at the same time the things she 'sees' are proving quite accurate. She constantly questions if the things she sees are as a response to something she has noticed subconsciously or something other. It's quite clever and well delivered.
Eden/Olivia and Gabriel are developing into well rounded if slightly flawed people who I like for the most part. Although I'm a little unsure of some of there less than ethical behaviour. One event in particular I didn't agree with. Yet at the same time these flaws mark them as human. The other characters are slowly developing also but I have yet to form opinions on them.
I can't yet work out much of what's happening in Cainsville but I have strong suspicions about other areas, particularly the medical records. Suspicions that I can't elaborate on without spoilers. I am fairly certain of what is happening and unfortunately not particularly pleased with the direction it appears to be heading. I hope I'm proved wrong though.
So far I've liked what I have read and can recommend this series. Although I much prefer the 'Women of the Otherworld' series though and would suggest that if you haven't read Kelley Armstrong before then you should start there.
on 11 January 2014
As an avid reader of the Otherworld series I picked this up a little... tentatively... shall we say? And whilst I wasn't blown away by it, I was most certainly intrigued.
It's great to have another strong female character in Olivia/Eden and a broken, reluctant - almost anti-hero in Gabriel. The fringe characters such as Rose and Patrick have me drumming my fingers and making a lot of "Hmmmmmmm!" noises. I want to know more about the elders, the gargoyles, the hounds... Yes. All in all the scene setting for the next two books was nicely done and I'll be pre-ordering the next one.
I've purposely keep any actual details vague as, to me personally, there is nothing worse than reading a review that tells you the entire plot, ruins the ending and makes reading the actual book pointless. Instead I'll say that I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to Otherworld fans just be prepared for something different.
Hmmm, I seem to be in a very small group of not-so-positive readers.
I didn't get this - a young woman's life is drastically turned upside down, helped along by some jaw-droppingly shallow behaviour from her significant others. She is forced to flee by a rabid press and maybe, maybe some other manipulation. She ends up in an odd little town, and tries to make sense of what's happened by digging into her past.
All fine and fair, but this is presented as a supernatural book, and apart from,
- a lot of folklore superstitions
- a town with a lot of gargoyles (stone/wood - not live ones)
- some slightly strange characters
- the odd bit of the Welsh language
- lots of vague suggestions that something beyond the normal is happening,
there's was never a point when I thought, "Aha, at last. Finally we have something totally inexplicable that needs a supernatural explanation."
This is a big book at 486 pages in my copy, and I ended no wiser than I was at the beginning.
I disliked the automatic use of guns when in trouble, (but that's the Brit in me), and disliked the sensation throughout that there was a lot I could know but wasn't being told (like our heroine I suppose, but she wasn't expecting anything bizarre or woo-woo, whereas I was), and really disliked getting to the end and realising this was part one. I don't mind part ones as long as they don't leave you thinking, "Yes but what about...." - and this did.
So not for me. In its defence, it's well written, rolls along briskly never flagging, has an engaging heroine and a large cast of supporting characters, many of whom get to give at least a bit of the book from their point of view, and there is an element of mystery about it all, but it's all too vague and drawn out.
I don't like giving up on books, but this bored me to tears by about half way. It just takes far too long to get going, and according to the reviews I've now read, it actually doesn't get going even by the end, because it doesn't end, you have to buy the next book. And it is so dull and unbelievable, and at the same time disconcertingly slightly odd, but then again (perversely) not odd enough to make sense. It's just not believable as a "normal" story, and just not weird enough to be supernatural. I had no idea it was even meant to be supernatural until I read more of the reviews here. I couldn't get interested in or begin to relate to any characters, because they just don't seem to react the way people would normally react.
Too many silly holes in the plot. Her adoptive mother's appalling reaction. The way she is instantly recognised by a convenient passing journalist the moment she pokes her head out on the street. The silly concern over press interception of mobile phone calls, and the idiotic response to it - "I'm concerned our calls might be being listened to, so just in case, I've bought another phone, here's the number" (said in a phone call - duh). Smashing phones and destroying sim cards for no good reason. Destroying credit cards then worrying about money 10 minutes later. Waking up to find she's been tied up in some sleazy hotel by the reincarnation of Norman Bates, but conveniently only by one hand. And then escaping and without batting an eyelid, stabbing him repeatedly. And stealing money off him (very handy after destroying those credit cards). And then he knows not only who she is, but where she's headed too. And then his wounds begin to heal in minutes...???
As I said, none of it is really weird enough to make you realise something supernatural is going on. It just ends up looking a bit daft.
Olivia is lucky. Daughter of two very wealthy parents, Olivia has never had to work so instead volunteers for the less fortunate. But soon Olivia finds herself under a different kind of spot light - her parents are not who she thought. Olivia discovers at the worst possible moment, on the eve of her wedding, that she was adopted and her biological parents are murderers. Her luck is running out. With the media harassing her, Olivia is forced to run from her family home and face the world disguised as someone else. I love the subtle irony of this book. It's typical of Armstrong to not skimp on the details; how clever to have a girl lead a new life on the run after having lived as someone else for her whole life. However, this is not the standard Armstrong read.
I was so captivated right from the start by the little clues we are given along the way hinting towards the potential innocence of Olivia's biological parents and enjoyed following Olivia as she tried to unravel the secrets of her past. I desperately wanted to know what happened to her parents and how things would work out for them!
I also enjoyed that parts of this book were uncomfortable. Armstrong has this way with all of her books whereby she's able to make you become really invested in characters you might ordinarily not care about. Olivia, for me, wasn't particularly likeable (although she wasn't irritating). She's just an ordinary, albeit privileged, woman. But as she is forced to face some truly challenging scenes, I found myself really rooting for her. The character development was therefore a large selling point for me.
The subtle hints towards superstition are the closest fans are going to get to a paranormal twist with this book - and even that isn't strictly paranormal. So for those of you who are die hard fans thinking this might be a typical, mythical, read then you'll need to prepare yourself for YA fiction rather than fantasy. This doesn't take away from how beautifully written this piece is though.
I have to admit, I found this book to be a bit too much of a slow burner. I was fully expecting to be sucked right back into a fantastic adventure but unfortunately I felt the book kind of ran out of steam quite early on and it was a bit of a push to persist to begin with. There are large portions dedicated to world building and the mundane activities of everyday life (probably a few too many job-hunting scenes to be honest). I found this a bit tedious after a while, which took away some of the excitement of a murder mystery - there didn't ever feel like there was any immediate threat to Olivia.
Overall, this is a strong first instalment in what I think will be a great series now that the ball is rolling. For readers looking for a murder mystery type novel, particularly those new to this authors work, I think it's a great read. A beautifully written thriller with some engaging characters - I just didn't have my bum on the edge of my seat this time!