Review: Omens by Kelley Armstrong

Omens by Kelley Armstrong

Series: Cainsville #1

Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Mystery

Setting: Chicago & Cainsville, Illinois

Source: Ebook, purchased

Publishing Date: 2013

486 pages

Synopsis: Twenty-four-year-old Olivia Taylor Jones has the perfect life. The only daughter of a wealthy, prominent Chicago family, she has an Ivy League education, pursues volunteerism and philanthropy, and is engaged to a handsome young tech firm CEO with political ambitions.

But Olivia’s world is shattered when she learns that she’s adopted. Her real parents? Todd and Pamela Larsen, notorious serial killers serving a life sentence. When the news brings a maelstrom of unwanted publicity to her adopted family and fiancé, Olivia decides to find out the truth about the Larsens.

My thoughts

It took me a while to finish this book since I read other books and set this one aside, but I’m so glad I got back to it and finished it. The book has such an unusual premise: the main character finds out–all at the same time–that she was adopted and that her birth parents are serial killers. I’ve never read a book about someone whose parents are serving life sentences for killing multiple people. I’ve often wondered what happens to a family when they discover that a family member is a killer.

Plunged into a nightmare

For Olivia her life is suddenly a nightmare. To find the people she thought were her mother and father aren’t her birth parents is bewildering enough, but to discover at the same time that she’s the child of notorious serial killers causes Olivia to flee from her home. It doesn’t help that her adoptive mother (her adoptive father is dead) has always been distant and goes to Europe with friends to get away from the media circus leaving Olivia alone to handle this news. Olivia is engaged, but her fiance isn’t very helpful either and she breaks off the engagement.

Throughout the book there are glimpses into what is really going on and it’s far more than Olivia even can guess. She is guided and moved along to places and to do things, but they’re subtle so she doesn’t realize what’s happening.


Olivia has a trust fund, but she’s determined to make her way using her wits and getting her own job. That doesn’t work out very well in Chicago where everything is expensive and where people recognize her.

Olivia eventually finds her way to Cainsville which is an insular small town south of Chicago. She’s found a spot here to lick her wounds. And she gets a job, makes some friends and discovers things about herself that surprise her. For example, she has superstitions and sayings that come to mind when she sees certain things: she sees a spider in a web and thinks:

‘If you wish to live and thrive,
Let the spider stay alive.’

That was a new one. Just what I needed. More superstitious crap filling my brain.

She starts out dismissing these thoughts as superstitions, but as the story progresses she starts to see some as omens and she and others begin to listen when she sees something. Maybe Cainsville isn’t as benign as it seems. And maybe Olivia is more than she seems.

Olivia’s birth mother

Olivia finally decides to see her birth mother in prison and agrees to contact a group to investigate part of her mother’s case to possibly reopen the case. She meets Gabriel Walsh who is her mother’s former attorney. She recognizes that he’s unscrupulous, but still decides to hire him to help her investigate the case. They begin looking for family members and friends of the murdered people her parents were convicted of killing.

The bottom line

This is an exciting, action-packed book. I like the mix of mystery and fantasy in the story. I can’t wait to find out what is really going on. The beginning of the book was a little slow for me, but by the end I was racing through to find out what was going to happen! I hope to read the second book in the series–Visions–before long.

My Rating: A-


  • Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Paranormal Fantasy (2013)

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Reading Challenges

Swords and Stars Reading Challenge hosted by MsNoseinaBook — Read a book that’s been on your TBR shelf for over two years (bought July 2014)