Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Posted: 08/24/2013 1:00 AM | Comments: 0
The heroine of Ontario fantasy author Kelley Armstrong's new novel grew up intuitively knowing upside-down shoes are bad luck, eight crows signify death and a black cat washing its ears means a storm is coming.
But there are many things she did not know.
Omens opens with 24-year-old socialite Olivia Taylor-Jones finding out not only was she adopted, but that her birth parents are convicted sociopathic serial killers. That disturbing information sends her on a quest to the mysterious town of Cainsville, Ill., which has its own quirky history.
But Cainsville is slow to reveal its secrets, and that may frustrate some of the diehard fans Armstrong has built up over a dozen years of writing about strong women in supernatural situations.
The prolific bestselling author (Omens is one of three titles she has out this year) has written 18 fantasy books, a series for young adults, two crime novels and dozens of short stories and novellas expanding the fantasy worlds from her novels.
Armstrong is best known for her 13-book series, Women of the Otherworld, featuring an intricately woven world of regular women who happen to be werewolves, witches, ghosts, demons and vampires.
Fans of the Otherworld series expecting a similar focus on the supernatural will have to settle for brief glimpses into Cainsville's past, the strange people who live there and why Olivia's ability to read omens becomes so much stronger once she moves there.
But impatient readers who want to know more about Cainsville can do a little digging on their own. In a note at the start of the book, Armstrong tells readers she's dropped clues throughout the novel that are easily researched online.
The town, with its superstitions, gargoyles and fortune tellers, comes across as more historically interesting than terrifying. Armstrong's Cainsville is not as truly creepy or dark as Stephen King's Castle Rock, but her angle of Old World omens and magic is a fresh take on supernatural and she has room to build on that in upcoming books. In this first entry of her new trilogy, the supernatural takes a back seat to a much more chilling -- but fun and fast-paced -- murder mystery.
Olivia very reluctantly gets involved in trying to prove her birth parents are innocent of a series of horrific ritualistic murders. She teams up with a private investigator with a shady past she doesn't quite trust, but who is, of course, very good-looking.
As in her other novels, Armstrong does not fall into romantic clich© with this relationship. Much of the fun in the novel comes from watching these two sparring and trying to outsmart each other.
Armstrong creates heroines who are smart and strong, but with real weaknesses and vulnerabilities. They may be wrapped up in the supernatural, but they are realistic and relatable.
Olivia has more than enough personality to keep old fans, while hooking new readers into this new trilogy.
Joanne Kelly teaches journalism at Red River College.
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 24, 2013 A1
Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories? Please use the form below and let us know.
Having problems with the form?Contact Us Directly
Matthew Reilly writes action-packed 'Great Zoo of China'
Book tells of gang-related homicides in black neighbourhoods
Facebook founder's book club picks Pinker
Debut novel balances mother-son relationship with mystery of the unknown
Fictionalized account of Bloomsbury Group a work of art
Patient-centric revolution will come from our smartphones, says author
Novel details F. Scott Fitzgerald’s troubled Hollywood years
Time for author to log off
Norse tales crackle with vitality and energy
Pearlman's latest collection captures intimate lives
On the night table: Sarah Cameron
Shopaholic heads to Hollywood for more fun
New in Paper: Jan. 24
Seth Grahame-Smith defines multihyphenate with busy career
Free e-books offer selections of upcoming releases
WALL STREET JOURNAL-BEST SELLERS
USA TODAY Bestsellers
PUBLISHERS WEEKLY Bestsellers
Alec Baldwin memoir to be published in fall 2016
John Vaillant writes on human trafficking
'As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust' tops Maclean's fiction list
Review: Sports guy Greenberg hits home run with latest novel
Book Review: 'Russian Tattoo' is worthwhile read
Book Review: 'Fear the Darkness' is solid story
Robinson, Chast, Piketty among book critic prize nominees