Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Visions by Kelley Armstrong

Visions is the second book in the Cainsville series so this review contains ***SPOILERS*** if you have not read the first book in the series.  This series is best enjoyed in order so I suggest you read Omens before you read any more of this review.

Olivia Taylor-Jones has lived a privileged life, one that many people would give their right arm for, but for Olivia it has felt more like a gilded cage than a golden opportunity.  Her perfectly groomed and planned out life came crashing down when she discovered that she was Eden Larsen, daughter of infamous serial killers.  Her mother fled the country to escape the drama, and Olivia fled Chicago for a new life in small town Cainsville where everyone seems to know everyone else's secrets and no one seems to mind.  The past few weeks have been interesting as well as stressful, and Olivia has managed to find her own feet by working as a waitress at the local diner and as an assistant for arrogant lawyer Gabriel Walsh.  Their relationship has been somewhat rocky, but at least things seem to be setting down - even though her former fiancee James appears to have turned into her new stalker.

When Olivia vists her family home to collect some of her belongings she makes a startling discovery in her car - a young woman who has been dressed just like her, dead in the front seat of her car.  Understandably freaked out, she calls in Gabriel, only to have the body mysteriously vanish from her car.  Olivia doesn't know if it was an omen or a warning, but it soon becomes clear that something is going on because it is not the first time Olivia comes across the remains of the same young woman, who just happens to be a Ciara, a girl missing from Cainsville.  Searching for Ciara leads Olivia and Gabriel into dangerous territory because there are some things the elders of Cainsville don't want the "children" to know.  As Olivia digs deeper into her own past, she uncovers information about Gabriel too, information that he may never be ready to hear.  As if her professional life was not complicated enough, Olivia is also dealing with a rather interesting personal life, because James is not the only person interested in pursuing Olivia, and some of her suitors have interesting reputations of their own.

Finding the Cainsville series has been something of an unexpected surprise for me, particularly as it seems like Armstrong has managed to blend together some of my favourite genre into one neat package - crime, thriller, supernatural, and just a dusting of romance to keep it interesting.  The characters are all well rendered, with interesting quirks and background stories that make them all unique and completely human.  There are some little tidbits that you pick up as you read that hint towards events later in the story, and it is always something of a small victory to solve the puzzle before the answer is delivered on a silver platter.  As often happens with a second novel, Armstrong picks up right where she left off which means this is a series that you really want to read in order, and I thoroughly enjoyed the very small gap in time between reading books one and two as it meant I was able to remember so much more about the story.

This is a series that tickles your brain with hints of whodunnit and glimpses of a ancient fables from Ireland, Wales, and Scotland.  Some of the names tickled and tickled, stirring memories of other stories I have read and of worlds created by other authors.  This is a richly imagined world, and it is so easy to see a real Cainsville sitting out their somewhere - and while this is not the first time I have seen this device used (think tv series Supernatural and Grimm), it is used very, very well.  I am currently waiting for book three to arrive so I can see where Armstrong takes the story next, especially in terms of Olivia and her relationship with other characters in the book - especially Gabriel as their relationship has a lot of the elements of the classic romance novel plot (girl meets boy, they hate each other, something happens, they like each other).  Hopefully the rest of the series is as perfectly executed as the first two books in this series because this is an unmissable series for fans of urban fantasy who like a little bite with their magic, and a little conspiracy with their fairytales.

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Reviewed by Brilla

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