Review: Visions by Kelley Armstrong

download (4)Title: Visions (Cainsville #2)

Author: Kelley Armstrong

Publisher: Random House Canada

Source: Bought

Rating StarRating StarRating StarRating StarRating Star

Omens, the first installment in Kelley Armstrong’s exciting new series, introduced Olivia Taylor-Jones, daughter of notorious serial killers, and Gabriel Walsh, the self-serving, morally ambiguous lawyer who became her unlikely ally. Together, they chased down a devious killer and partially cleared her parents of their horrifying crimes.

Their success, however, is short-lived. While Olivia takes refuge in the old, secluded town of Cainsville, Gabriel’s past mistakes have come to light, creating a rift between the pair just when she needs his help the most.

Olivia finds a dead woman in her car, dressed to look like her, but the body vanishes before anyone else sees it. Olivia’s convinced it’s another omen, a sign of impending danger. But then she learns that a troubled young woman went missing just days ago—the same woman Olivia found dead in her car. Someone has gone to great lengths to kill and leave this young woman as a warning. But why? And what role has her new home played in this disturbing murder?

Olivia’s effort to uncover the truth places her in the crosshairs of old and powerful forces, forces that have their own agenda, and closely guarded secrets they don’t want revealed

I debated even writing a review for Visions because what do you even say when your favourite author writes one of the best books she’s written in years? Something along the lines of “AKFJSDKJGLADFHGJTSFHJ!” And for some reason that doesn’t seem like a particularly constructive review, nor is it a compelling argument to READ THIS SERIES. But thankfully I was able to form coherent thoughts about the UF perfection that is Visions and here we are!

In Omens Liv moves to Cainsville, a quaint little town just outside of Chicago; in Visions we uncover Cainsville’s secrets along with Olivia, and boy are they plentiful. It’s got that small-town feel: everyone says hi to their neighbours on the street, there’s no Starbucks, and the elderly people hang out at the one diner every day. Typical, right? Sure, if you ignore the gargoyles that disappear and reappear, the secretive elders, and the fact that a dead woman’s body parts start showing up everywhere. With all this mystery, you know that Liv’s trying to get to the bottom of it. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is her favourite author, after all!

Liv partners up with Gabriel, both at work and in the investigation. Needless to say there’s a certain amount of friction – sadly not the horizontal kind. Gabriel is new to the whole emotional attachments, “I have feelings” situation that’s happening while Liv is still reeling from the “you’re adopted and your parents are serial killers!” thing. So much happens in both Omens and Visions that it’s hard to remember that these events take place over several weeks, not months. Girl’s got a lot on her plate.

For a lot of readers the stumbling block of Omens was the distinct lack of fantastical elements. Something was clearly going on, but since Olivia didn’t know what it was we didn’t either (although I think most of us had our suspicions). The reveals happen quickly in Visions, as Liv finally gets some answers about what’s going on in Cainsville – and with herself. I just love how prosaic she is. Oh, the fae are real? Cool. On to the next issue! It’s pretty refreshing to see that she just accepts it and carries on with her life. Personally I’d probably have an existential crisis culminating with me gently rocking myself inside a salt circle, but that’s why I’ll never be a badass UF heroine.

World building happens in Visions! Rejoice! Little by little Olivia and Gabriel begin to unearth who’s pulling the strings in Cainsville, and what they really are. The introduction of the fae factions Cwn Annwn and Tylwyth Teg was gradual and compelling. Happily we’re given some hints about pronunciation when various people correct Liv’s pronunciation in conversation. Kelley Armstrong you sly dog!

The tenuous alliance between Liv and Gabriel develops into a really solid friendship – excepting those moments when Gabriel effs it up with his emotional baggage – and that’s about all those two can handle right now. There’s a certain young biker keeping Liv company these days and I’m all for it. As Liv herself says, he’s uncomplicated and exactly what she needs right now. They’re cute and all…but I’m still biding my time for Livriel. With their no-nonsense attitudes, stubbornness, and knack for finding trouble, the new partners are too similar for things to be all sunshine and roses just yet. It’s fine, I can wait: those two are so meant to be it isn’t even funny. Kelley (I CALL HER KELLEY DEAL WITH IT) has never let me down in the romance department – in Kelley I trust.

I do have to say that I was a little disappointed that the Larsen murders plotline was dropped a little bit in this instalment, but I’m appeased knowing that Kelley is planning five books at least. FIVE BOOKS Y’ALL. That’s quite a bit of space to resolve that plotline.

That teeny weeny complaint aside, Visions is everything I love about Kelley Armstrong. The tough but not unrealistic heroines, the subtle world building, the slow burn romance. If you’re not reading this series and you like UF then you’re doing yourself a serious disservice. If you ARE reading it, hit me up on Twitter so I can ramble about my crackpot theories…and the fact that I need to buy a motorcycle ASAP!

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  • Lisa (@TenaciousReader)

    OK, so if I were to give a book by this author a try, which one should I read?

    • Bitten is the most popular book, but it’s heavy on the romance so I suggest you start with Omens (also there are only two books to catch up on as opposed to 13+). Bear in mind that Omens is light on the fantastical elements b/c Liv doesn’t know about all this juju yet!

  • I haven’t read any Kelley Armstrong (yet another UF author to add to my growing list) but “best she’s written in years” sounds very promising! If I’m to pick up something by her, it would probably be this series – less to catch up with too 😉

    ~Mogsy @ Bibliosanctum

    • I hope you do pick it up, Mogsy! Personally I’ve always thought that her series improve over time and it’s the same with Cainsville. Even though I loved Omens it’s pretty obvious that Visions was a HUGE improvement over it. Come aboard the Kelley Armstrong Express!!

  • I bought Omens earlier this year, but haven’t read it yet. I guess I need to add it to my fall reading list, Danya!

    • DO IT, JAN!!! I need more people to flail with over Liv and how completely awesome she is.

  • I loved Omens, and I can;t wait to rad this! I was such an interesting storyline and I am glad to see such a high rating!

    • Maggie, if you loved Omens you’ll go nuts over Visions. I tried to read it really slowly so I could savour it’s awesomeness b/c I just didn’t want it to end!! Can’t wait to hear your thoughts.

  • LOL Sadly not the horizontal kind!~? yeah not between them at least – cause I dare say there sure was a whole hell of a lot of friction frizzle zap boom BANG…ing going on in this one. I loved it as well!

    • Hahaha, I know! I feel bad because I actually really like Ricky…but he ain’t no Gabriel. Kelley Armstrong definitely doesn’t have problems writing the frizzle zap boom BANG. 😉

      But I’m calling it now: Liv and Gabriel are gonna get together in book 4. They’re already giving each other the side eye.