Since I absolutely love Kelley Armstrong’s series “The Otherworld,” I felt compelled to read this first novel in her new series about a town named Cainsville and its various inhabitants. Her protagonist, Olivia Taylor-Jones, is the only daughter of a wealthy, prominent Chicago family one day, and the next, she discovers she really is adopted Eden Larsen, the only daughter of a pair of notorious serial killers who are in prison. As her world crumbles around her, Olivia flees to a community in the Chicago suburbs, Cainsville, where she tries to determine whom she really is. Part of that process involves meeting her birth mother and taking on the challenge of discovering whether her parents really are innocent of at least one of the murders for which they were convicted. She is joined in this endeavor by Gabriel Walsh, her mother’s former attorney and a former resident of Cainsville himself. She meets many of the town “elders” as she takes a job waitressing at the local diner rather than take money from her adopted family until she feels more comfortable with her new self.
“Omens” was an interesting novel. Olivia’s character becomes aware of her ability to read “omens” – potential portents of the future, such as vision of poppies preceding deaths of which Olivia becomes aware and ravens being an ominous sign of trouble to come. While Olivia struggles with the concepts of someone having the “sight” – the ability to predict potential futures - or the ability to read “omens,” by the end of the novel, she is learning to trust those insights that come to her through the omens she sees that no one else can.
Gabriel Walsh was probably the most interesting character besides Olivia. As Olivia discovers more about his past, the motives behind the actions he takes make much more sense, and by interacting with Olivia, he begins to change somewhat, like Olivia herself, which is really what happens when two people begin to work closely with one another. By the end of the novel, he was a much more fully realized character and one that I had come to enjoy.
The plot moved quickly, and while most of the other surviving characters were never fully formed, I expect that they will become more so as Armstrong proceeds with her next planned novel. This happened in her “Otherworld” series as well – whenever someone new was introduced in a novel, one of the next novels or short stories focused on or more fully developed that character. I was impressed enough with “Omens” that I am looking forward to reading the next one – I hope I do not have to wait very long!