A review by Nalini Haynes
Omens begins a new series by Kelley Armstrong set in a world with fae rather than vampires and werewolves; there’s even a wink to the vampires and werewolves trope and writing fantasy from a character who is an author.
Olivia Taylor-Jones, daddy’s girl, grew up with a silver spoon; her mother instilled expectations of volunteer work until marriage. After her father died and her engagement to a would-be senator was announced, Olivia learns she’s the biological daughter of a couple convicted of serial murders. Olivia’s adopted mother deserts Olivia to indulge her own self-absorption while Olivia is driven from her home to discover who she is; this includes using ‘Liv Jones’ instead of her more formal name.
Gabriel Walsh, formerly Liv’s biological mother’s lawyer, uses Liv in an attempt to recover unpaid fees; thus they start an uneasy partnership. While it’s fairly obvious early on that Gabriel will be the love interest (my prediction for future novels), Armstrong spares us the ‘we hate each other so we must lust after each other’ trope. The relationship develops as the characters develop, with misunderstandings and conflicts gradually ironed out as Gabriel and Liv work together, each with their disparate goals in mind.
Liv moved to Cainsville, a small town well off the freeway, as part of her getaway. It’s this town, its inhabitants and its history that particularly pique my interest. As I’m familiar with Armstrong’s writing, I anticipate a gradual unfolding – rewards along the way – as the backstory is revealed and inhabitants reveal more of themselves. Armstrong indicates in an author’s note that words not in English can be Googled for Easter Egg-style spoilers when readers don’t want to wait; I’ve refrained although I recognise enough to have a few guesses.
I’ve enjoyed Kelley Armstrong’s writing previously; her studies in psychology and her understanding of human nature help her create sympathetic characters. Like her other novels, Omens features detailed world-building based a world not too much unlike our own, yet tilted as if on an angle caused by introduction of the supernatural.
One of Armstrong’s greatest strengths in my opinion is knowing when to conclude a romance, giving readers gratification for following the characters. In her Otherworld series, Armstrong continued the series by introducing different central characters, providing fan service in the form of cameos featuring familiar faces whose romance and story had been satisfactorily concluded. Kelley Armstrong talked about this in her interview and further in an author talk. Knowing this, I anticipate either a short series or an expanded series that provides happy endings along the way (Evie Kendal talks about serialisation in paranormal romance).
I enjoyed Omens; at this stage the story is a mystery with fantasy elements although the seeds of romance have been sown for future instalments. I’m intrigued.