Omens (Cainsville #1) by Kelley Armstrong
I was not sure I was going to keep reading Kelley Armstrong after her Women of the Otherworld series was over earlier this year, since the quality of her writing seemed to be declining in the later books. However, WotO is still my favourite of the urban fantasy series I've read, and Armstrong is always an easy read, so I figured I wouldn't be losing much if I picked this book up and gave it a shot. I was curious about what she was going to do next.
True to form, Omens was an easy, fairly fast read. There are supernatural elements in this world, but they are slow-to-be revealed, mostly only hinted at in this first book of what I believe is planned to be a trilogy. One can only assume they will become more important in the next two books. Unlike the WotO series, however, this deals with superstitions ('omens', obviously) and folklore, rather than witch's magic, shapeshifting and the like. There are characters who have certain extrasensory abilities, but everybody (so far) appears human.
There isn't a whole lot of action and imminent danger in this book, until the end, which is fine by me. Most of the book covers the protagonist's situation (Olivia, the adult daughter of a prominent and rich family discovers she is adopted and her real parents are imprisoned for serial killings) and her encounters with characters in Cainsville, to which she is drawn by various forces. She is investigating the set of four murders to find out if her birth parents are truly guilty, with the help of an enigmatic lawyer named Gabriel, who is clearly being set up as a love interest. I was a bit disappointed with the trope between the two, who by the end of this book are unaware of each other's interest and convinced their feelings couldn't possibly mutual. It's a pretty tired device, in my opinion.
Olivia is an alright character, there's nothing really special about her personality aside from the gift for reading omens that she is slowly discovering. She's determined to be independent, stubborn, attractive, curious...Nothing to dislike, but nothing to feel strongly about either. Armstrong's women characters are generally like this imperfect but strong-minded "everywoman" type. The other characters in this book are far more interesting, if only because they are mysterious and seem to be keeping a lot of secrets. For the most part this story is told in the first person from Olivia's perspective, but short chapters appear every once in awhile from various other characters' perspectives, offering hints to their roles in the larger picture, which is quite effective at creating interest.
I find Cainsville itself more intriguing than the plot about investigating the murders, personally. The way the first murder was 'solved' was kind of implausible and unsatisfying, even given the supernatural elements in this world. However, my curiosity about exactly what is going on in Cainsville and how it relates to Olivia and her birth parents is enough to make me want to continue with this series.
My other reviews of this author:
Awakenings (Darkest Powers #2)
Spellbound (Women of the Otherworld #12)
Thirteen (Women of the Otherworld #13)