2014 · 4 stars · mystery · paranormal

Omens and Visions by Kelley Armstrong

Omens (Cainsville #1) | Visions (Cainsville #2)
A big THANK YOU to Dutton for a finished copy of Visions!

Because I’m not a binge-reader, I rarely review series in one go. However, I’ve recently discovered vacations are the perfect opportunity to really dive into a new world for an extended visit. I’m also not a big reader of Urban Fantasy, so (spoiler!) I was completely shocked when I not only tore through both of these books, but that I really – REALLY – enjoyed them as well!

Olivia Taylor-Jones is a socialite’s socialite. As the heir to a department store empire, Liv had it all: vintage sports cars, an Ivy League education, the perfect fiance. Unfortunately, disaster struck when she discovered the secrets her parents kept from her all these years: not only was she adopted, but her parents? The notorious Larsens, locked away in maximum-security prisons after being found guilty of a string of serial murders. Oh, sure, Olivia’s still in the public eye, but in a much different way than she’s used to.

With her beloved father passed on and her mother suddenly not-so-doting, Olivia realizes she needs to get out. Now. Her world has turned upside-down – for the worst; she has no idea who she is, are her future-husband’s political dreams ruined? James claims he doesn’t care about her real lineage, but Olivia needs answers. She needs to talk to the Larsens and discover for herself who these people are.

Olivia finds herself in Cainsville, an odd little town that rallies around its own and isn’t quick to give up its secrets. Gargoyles decorate the town steeped deep in folklore and soon she’s remembering snippets of rhymes from her childhood. Poppies are harbingers of death, you never want to see a group of ten ravens, black cats are actually good luck. With the help of Gabriel Walsh, Pamela Larsen’s lawyer, Olivia looks into the murders her birth parents supposedly committed (along with finding out just who she really is and what these strange visions and rhymes mean). Through in a physic for a neighbor and a group of elders who are far more agile than they’re letting on, and you’ve got the makings of a great new series!

Brush up on your Welsh, folks. You’re going to need it with Cainsville! In an author’s note in Omens, Armstrong states she intentionally left out any kind of translation or contextual clues. I cheated a bit and Googled some of the phrases. Don’t worry, I won’t spoil those, but trust me: you’ll want to find out more! Cainsville definitely isn’t your normal sleepy town. Nope. Not at all. There are things going on here – Big Things.

Visions picks up almost immediately where Omens ended and, because I read them together, this transition was perfect. Olivia is a great character, she’s got substance to her. She’s in an incredibly crappy situation, but she’s making the best of it and, ultimately, comes out on top. Gabriel walks a fine, fine line between jerk and lovable jerk (his aunt is the town psychic, by the way!). Gabriel’s all no-nonsense and I felt their personalities meshed so well together. Don’t worry about romance bogging down the plot. After two books this pair still maintains a healthy business partnership: initially Olivia takes Gabriel on as her own lawyer only for Gabriel to later hire Liv on as an investigator for his firm. Sure there’s romance in the series, but not between these two (and, honestly, I’m a little disappointed! Fingers crossed for sparks to fly in book three!).

There’s so much to talk about, but anything I say would be a HUGE spoiler. If you’re a fan of mythology, folklore, mysterious towns, HELLHOUNDS, biker gangs, serial killers, omens and portents, and sassy cats, Cainsville is the series for you. I tore through these books – and they’re definitely not short reads. However, the writing is blindingly fast and the story completely sucked me in..these 400+-page chunksters were one-sitting reads. THAT is how much I loved these books. Only two things leave me upset: 1) I’ve never read anything of Armstrong’s before this (I’ve been missing out on some seriously good stuff!) and 2) I have to wait an entire year for the third book!


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