Review: Visions by Kelley Armstrong

download (4)Visions by Kelley Armstrong (Cainsville #2)

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Publisher: Random House Canada on August 19 2014

Source: Purchased

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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.

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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