Pros: interesting premise, fast-paced mystery
Cons: protagonists show little emotion, paranormal elements are light
Twenty-four year old socialite Olivia Taylor-Jones's life is turned upside down when she discovers that not only is she adopted, her birth parents are notorious serial killers. Running to avoid the media and protect her mother and fiancee, Olivia ends up in Cainsville, a small town outside Chicago. While trying to get by on her own she starts investigating the murder case that put her parents behind bars. And her superstition about omens seems to be giving her good guidance lately.
There's a lot going on in this novel. There's Olivia's coming of age, as she's forced from her home and social expectations and allowed to find what she wants out of life. There's the murder mystery, long gone cold with few leads that haven't been followed by others. And there's the town, with it's unique mixture of people, many of whom have some connection to Britain's folkloric past - though Olivia's mostly unaware of this and the reader's only given hints. This book is primarily grounding for the new series. We're introduced to the main players, including the town itself, with its numerous gargoyles and mysterious happenings.
I loved the plot, that this girl discovers she's the kid of serial killers and how she deals with it. And she deals with it remarkably well. Despite the many things she learns, sees and does, she never breaks down. Which is surprising, because she sees and does some horrific things. It was strange not seeing her deal with the grief and shock that would have accompanied some of what she does/encounters. But it certainly set her up as a strong character - much like Ripley from the Alien franchise. Kick-ass and capable, but not always right. In many ways she's well complemented by Gabriel Walsh, the lawyer who offers his aid - for a fee - who also displays little emotion. I liked that the groundwork of a romance between them was set up, but that it's being allowed to develop naturally - assuming that's the direction the author is taking their relationship.
It's a quick, entertaining read and a good set up for what sounds like an interesting series.
When the Otherworld series ended, I thought that no follow-up series by Ms. Armstrong could fill its shoes. I may be wrong. Still reserving judgment (as one book does not a series make) but this is an intriguing beginning to what could be a fabulous new series.
The premise: Olivia Taylor-Jones seems to have it all. Her place in the world is set as the heiress to her parents' fortune set to be married to her perfect fiance within the year. Then everything changes. The press gets word that Olivia is in fact adopted and her parents are none other than infamous serial killers "the Larsons".
In this story, the first of what could be a show-stopping new series by Kelley Armstrong, Olivia/Eden moves to Cainsville in order to hide from the press and make a new life for herself. She searches to find herself by finding a job and begins to look into her genetic roots to see what truth lies beneath. Are her parents truly serial killers? All around her are the omens she has been seeing as far back as she remembers. It seems that Olivia has a gift for interpreting Omens...
The magic in this series is more of a tease, very slow, subtle hints of what is to come later on in the series. Just as Olivia is finding herself, so is she learning to trust her instincts when it comes to the Omens she sees everywhere.
Verdict: Definitely worth a read. Great set-up to a new series by Kelley Armstrong. The plot was interesting, and quick paced, the characters definitely grew through the book, and the world is something I really can't wait to read more of.
Omens and I had a bad start: I was rolling my eyes right from the second chapter when we meet Olivia, her wealthy family, her imminent wedding with an handsome gentleman, and her being bored at doing charity work instead of pursuing a career. However, she soon tumbles down the social ladder after discovering that she was adopted and that her biological parents are horrendous serial killers. Her (foster) mother flees to Europe after throwing some cash at her face and her fiancé “postpones” their wedding. She loses everything, runs away from an army of journalists and finally rents a dirty apartment in a remote cloistered village full of gargoyles called Cainville, working as a waitress to make both ends meet. Much, much better. Omens seems to be about Olivia trying to discover who everybody is for real. Herself, for a start? How much did she get from her biological parents? Are her genes the reason why she didn’t quite fit in her previous life? Whose daughter is she? Could she be a psychopath herself?
“I needed to make choices for me, whoever I was. I’d say I needed to find myself, if it didn’t sound like I was heading into the Himalayas, taking only a backpack stuffed with angst and clean underwear.”
What about her parents, the Larsens, who were convicted for eight ritual murders although they have always claimed to be innocent. Could they be? And Gabriel, Mrs Larsen’s last lawyer: at first sight, he’s just a brute sniffing money. Working with him, Olivia suspects he is hiding something. And finally, what’s up with Cainsville inhabitants? These old people look a tad over-superstitious really! I really love Omens for showing repeatedly that there’s always more than meets the eye. There is also a nice theme about who controls your life. Olivia is trying hard to become herself, whoever that is, but it feels like multiple forces are trying to control her: her genes, her long forgotten education with her biological parents, then with her foster parents, social and media pressure. She doesn’t know what genuinely defines her, what made her who she is, and how much other people shaped her.
“It wasn’t just what I’d done that bothered me. It was how easily I’d done it. There’d been no hesitation. I’d reacted on instinct. And where did that instinct come from? That was the real question, wasn’t it?”
In the end, Omens turns out to be mostly a crime-story with Olivia investigating the last couple of murders attributed to the Larsens. That’s where Omens disappointed me a bit. Random House puts it into the Fantasy genre, as well as GoodReads, but I found the fantasy elements very weak, if not completely anecdotal. There is definitely something spooky about Cainsville and the book does talk about neo-paganism, neo-druidry and witchcraft. Olivia might have some supernatural skill too, it’s not too clear (she might also be a nutcase). However, I wouldn’t be surprised if the next book in the Cainsville series is much more into the fantastic because Omens really paved the road to a full-blown fantasy sequel. Overall, I loved Omens. It’s a fast-paced thriller with really likeable characters and a catching plot. It’s a bit weak on the fantasy side but the crime story and Cainsville’s universe are really worth it. It’s a perfect read to relax during the summer!
I do really love reading books, but what I love even more than reading is discovering a new author. I have to admit that I normally wouldn't have chosen this kind of book. My genre is mysteries and although there's a mystery involved Omens, it also has a decidedly paranormal slant. That's the thing that normally would have scared me away. No, I'm not a scaredy-cat, lol, it's just I usually find paranormal books a little weird. Much like some books in the fantasy genre, much of the time I'm put off by the overwhelmingly unbelievability of everything. That's one of the things I LOVED about this book. Much of the writing and happenings were believable, the author expertly wove a good, believable plot line into some paranormal events. She didn't name her characters something unpronounceable and make their behavior bizarre.
There is a saying about a good book, "You Can't Put It Down!". This book seriously fits that description. Even better, it's also an easy read, cool huh?? In fact, Omens was so good, when I finished it I rushed to the computer to find out when the next installment of the series was due. Oh, didn't I tell you? It's a SERIES TOO!! YAY! For me, the sign of a good book is when you just can't stop thinking about the character once you close the cover. You find yourself wondering what's gonna happen next with Olivia? You wonder how she's doing, as if her life continues when you're not reading about her. I have to say, for the past week, I've wondered nearly obsessively about the title character. Now that's a good author!
Let me give you a small synopsis or outline of the story. No, no spoilers here, you don't have to avert your eyes if you intend to be smart and try this book. I don't believe in those types of reviews. I think my job as a reviewer is to give you my opinion as to weather the book is actually worth your time and why I believe it is or not. Ok, so, as I said, the main character is Olivia. She's in her mid twenties and she's been raised in a very privileged household. Olivia is intelligent, educated and wealthy, she's engaged to a handsome man and she seems to have it all, until the night she finds out that she is actually the daughter of notorious serial killers Pamela and Todd Larson. Her newly learned adopted status throws her life into chaos as the media descend on her Chicago home. The story is about just how Olivia handles the news about her heritage. Are her real parents actually guilty of brutally killing eight people? Did her adoptive parents know about who she was before they adopted her? Does this change who she is?
The author expertly weaves the paranormal into the story. Kelley Armstrong, the author of Omens, starts with subtle ideas that are easily accepted by the reader, then after she's gotten the reader hooked she introduces more intricacies. One of the other good things about Ms. Armstrong's writing is she doesn't break the contract she starts with the reader. I think of the outline of who the main character is as a contract between the writer and the reader. If the author then breaks the contract by having the character, like Olivia, do something not within her personal reality, then I consider the author is lying.The author of Omens doesn't make Olivia do anything foolishly out of character.
Have I convinced you yet to pick up this book? Yes? Glad to hear it!
OMENS is the first storyline in Kelley Armstrong’s new contemporary mystery (slightly paranormal) CAINSVILLE series focusing on Olivia Taylor and her fight to prove, one way or another, that her birth parents Pam and Todd Larsen may or may not be the notorious serial killers who murdered eight people over two decades earlier.
Olivia Taylor-Jones has just discovered that she was adopted as a child and her life is making headline news around the world. Needing to leave town, her parents and her fiancé behind, Olivia, also known as Eden Larsen, finds herself penniless in a small, cloistered town known as Cainsville and things have gone from bad to down right strange. Hoping to uncover the details about the twenty year old murders, Olivia enlists the help of her parent’s former lawyer -Gabriel Walsh-only to discover he is out for one thing and money is the bottom line.
Kelley Armstrong takes the reader on a mysterious journey that will see our heroine Olivia aka Eden on the run and settling in a strange town. ‘Reading’ omens and symbols that give warning of danger and death at every turn, Olivia begins to wonder who or what is determined to keep her from discovering the truth behind her parent’s conviction and the real people behind the murders. With a town full of ‘gifted’ seers and prophetic elders, Cainsville can only be considered a town with a paranormal undertone of Celtic ancestry.
The writing style grabs the reader’s attention and keeps you on the edge. There is the mystery of the crime of murder; a town of strangers who know more about Eden Larsen than does Olivia Jones; and a lawyer whose motives are questionable and the bottom line always reverts back to money. There is intrigue, suspense, mystery and betrayal and when the truth about Olivia’s birth parents is revealed she will discover who are her real friends and just how lonely life can be without the support of parents and family.
Kelley Armstrong is a proven winner with her Women of the Otherworld series and she has introduced another strong female character in Eden Larsen/Olivia Jones that drives the storyline and the series into another paranormal dimension.
on September 20, 2013
This was fabulous. Loved the new characters, love the town, love the mystery, and the clues! I especially love that it left me hungering for the next book. I saw that another reviewer had called it a great "whodunit mystery". I agree but I also think it is even more than that. A great paranormal romance whodunit mystery! So well done, Kelley.
on August 27, 2013
Once again, Armstrong creates an intriguing world that hooks you immediately. Personally, I wish she hadn't mentioned using the net to look up strange terms, as she did in her preface. It would not have occurred to me, but I considered doing just that. Ultimately, I refrained.
I look forward to more from this excellent author.
on September 16, 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...
on October 9, 2013
I have read all of Kelly's books so I am a big fan. I really enjoyed this book and how it sets us up wanting more can't wait for the next book. Nancy
on October 13, 2013
I love Kelley Armstron's writing so when I saw that she was starting a new series, I grabbed it!
I can't wait for more to come!