Omens by Kelley Armstrong
What if your life had been a lie? What if your parents weren’t your parents and hid the truth from you? Even with good intentions? Olivia finds her world turned upside down when she finds out not only that she’s adopted but her biological parents are serial killers. And not long after, she’s caught up in a mystery, not only to find out the truth about both sets of parents, but herself as well.
Publisher’s Description: Twenty-four-year-old Olivia Taylor Jones has the perfect life. The only daughter of a wealthy, prominent Chicago family, she has an Ivy League education, pursues volunteerism and philanthropy, and is engaged to a handsome young tech firm CEO with political ambitions.
But Olivia’s world is shattered when she learns that she’s adopted. Her real parents? Todd and Pamela Larsen, notorious serial killers serving a life sentence. When the news brings a maelstrom of unwanted publicity to her adopted family and fiancé, Olivia decides to find out the truth about the Larsens.
Olivia ends up in the small town of Cainsville, Illinois, an old and cloistered community that takes a particular interest in both Olivia and her efforts to uncover her birth parents’ past.
Aided by her mother’s former lawyer, Gabriel Walsh, Olivia focuses on the Larsens’ last crime, the one her birth mother swears will prove their innocence. But as she and Gabriel start investigating the case, Olivia finds herself drawing on abilities that have remained hidden since her childhood, gifts that make her both a valuable addition to Cainsville and deeply vulnerable to unknown enemies. Because there are darker secrets behind her new home and powers lurking in the shadows that have their own plans for her.
Possible spoilers beyond this point.
Percy Procrastinator says…
Things I liked: I like that Olivia is a strong character who doesn’t back down from finding out the truth and is determined to find it. I like that she knows a lot about herself already, in terms of likes and dislikes and some ideas of her strengths and weaknesses. I mostly like the writer’s style and the characters are quite clear and established very quickly.
Things I didn’t like: Most of the book is first person POV from Olivia’s perspective, with a few in between chapters from other character’s POV. While these other POVs do contain some main and secondary characters, most of them are ‘throw away” characters that we don’t hear from again.
If this book had been told strictly from Olivia’s point of view, it wouldn’t be fantasy, paranormal or supernatural. It would be a mystery story with a main character who has a strong intuition. It borders on supernatural, but from Olivia’s perspective, it never crosses that line. And that’s my problem with this book. I want it to be Urban Fantasy and it just isn’t.
Olivia is able to read the omens around her. She sees a type of bird or a type of flower and knows that good luck or maybe death is coming. She has a strong intuition and it can’t be denied that there is something more to it than normal. But we never reach the point of real paranormal. It’s only those occasional non-main characters that even give us an idea of any sort of fantasy or supernatural that is happening.
Further, it was very disappointing that at the end of the novel, the main mystery about her biological parents isn’t solved. Does that mean it’s going to be the focus of the series? Or did the author need to stop the book and it will be answered quickly in the next one? And was this an “origin story” about her supernatural abilities? Or will she only ever have a strong intuition that is beyond normal but never crossing over into the supernatural from Olivia’s POV? There are too many unanswered questions for me. While some do make me curious for more, most are just frustrating.
With any other author, I think I would have been disappointed and not sure I would have finished the book. It took until the late action at the eighty percent mark to pull me into the book, even with the good writing and interesting characters. And wanting and expecting Urban Fantasy, if I had only had Olivia’s POV, I would have felt completely cheated out of that. It was good enough to get me to read the next one and then see what I think of the series.
For that reason, I will give this a loose three rating. There was nothing I hated reading about in the book. The hints at the supernatural were more annoying since they didn’t explain anything and detracted from Olivia’s POV of things. I will keep reading to find out more of the town, the mystery of Olivia’s parents, and what was set up for the next book.
If you like this book…
…you might try any of Kelley Armstrong’s other writings (she’s very prolific!). You might also like other paranormal mysteries like the Mary O’Reilly series by Terri Reid, the Harper Connelly series and Midnight Texas series by Charlaine Harris, or the Graveyard Queen series by Amanda Stevens.