Saturday, 23 August 2014

Visions by Kelley Armstrong - review

First off, I must confess that Kelley Armstrong is my favourite author. I can read all 13 of the Women of the Otherworld series, and all the short stories, over and over again. In fact, I read them and finished them in time to read this new I've finished I've started Otherworld again! I'm not sure why I love her books so much, I just love the characters and the universes she builds. Suffice to say I was gutted when Thirteen came out and the series ended....sulking may have occurred! Luckily, I discovered Omens, which is the first book in the Cainsville series (not sure if it's a series or a trilogy mind) which I enjoyed, it just didn't quite grab me like Otherworld did though. I've just finished Visions so here is my review....

The book opens pretty much where Omens ended. Olivia and Gabriel have managed to exonerate her birth parents for 2 of the murders of which they were convicted. There is very little investigating of the other murders her birth parents were imprisoned for, which strikes me as rather odd. Surely, now there is a chink in the armour of their convictions, Olivia and Gabriel would try to press their advantage. They do visit Olivia's birth mother once, then she refuses to visit again because her mother wouldn't share why Olivia sees omens. Olivia is still trying to get permission to visit her father, Todd, but she is being thwarted by missed letters and ignored calls. Todd does write her a letter though, which Olivia reads at the end of the book, leaving her extremely emotional as he seems to genuinely love his daughter yet he respects her new name and family.

The thing that irks me most is that we're 2 books in and we still don't really have answers to anything! Oh, we get some tantalising snippets of who/what the characters are, but not enough to stop me feeling frustrated. I'm the sort of person who reads the ending of books first! I gave up on Lost in the first season because I couldn't cope with not getting answers! Its a real shame that this series bugs me because I love the premise, and I love Celtic mythology and culture, so these books should be a dream come true....

Having said all that, I did enjoy Visions more than Omens, as obviously we needed an origin story to start us off. It didn't flow as easily as Armstrong's other books, but then she has become familiar with the Otherworld universe. I recall reading that she didn't expect the success of Bitten, and wasn't planning a series at the start. The universe was built slowly through each book, with the introduction of new supernatural races and cultures, so the first books didn't feel as weighed down as Omens did. However, I do love her characterisations, she writes likable people, women I would be friends with. She also writes great relationships, there wasn't one pairing or group in Otherworld that I didn't love. Armstrong manages the same in the Cainsville series. While there appears to be a love triangle (or a love square if you count the ex, I wouldn't, he has no chance!) between Olivia,  Gabriel and Ricky, there is no 'instalove'. Olivia finally breaks free from the suffocating life and relationship she used to have, and begins to have fun. As she should! She's only in her mid twenties!

Now, the plot....its a tad chaotic, but it is intriguing none the less. The book starts with Olivia returning to her former home to pack up some of her belongings. Whilst there she decides to take a swim, which apparently provided the time for someone to put a dead woman, dressed like Olivia, in her car. The body then disappears while Olivia is waiting for Gabriel to come to her aid. It turns out that the dead woman is Ciara Conway, who is originally from Cainsville, before she became an addict and went missing. Ciara's severed head is placed in Olivia's bed while she sleeps, and she is knocked unconscious while, once again, the evidence is removed. She doesn't know if these are threats or clues to the mystery of Cainsville. TC ('The Cat') goes missing and is eventually discovered in the basement of a house which turns out to have been the home of Olivia's family. Following TC, Olivia discovers a spot which allows her to fall into visions....and Ciara's body in the attic. Ciara's family receive an anonymous call telling them to check her DNA, and it turns out that she is not their biological child.....which leads Olivia to research about changelings, as you do. Turns out that Cainsville is a haven for fae and the elders have been swapping children for many years.

Late one night, Olivia gets a call from a panicked young woman named Macy, who tells her that she has been drugged and kidnapped by a man wanted to get a message to 'Eden' (Olivia's birth name). Olivia has to go to an address and find the girl, which she does with the help of Ricky, and later, Gabriel. Macy has been taken to an old mental hospital, and Olivia keeps seeing things that aren't there. She meets a man/being named Tristan, who gives her more teasing tidbits about the two sides that want Olivia, for some as yet unknown reason. She was also approached by a man at a dinner with James, who is another otherwordly being, who gives her a tusk for protection. Olivia decides to confront someone from Cainsville, when she realises that she and Gabriel are experiencing a form of mind control, to prevent them from asking questions which would provide them with the answers they want. She fights the compulsion and talks to Patrick, who she has discovered is a lot older than he looks. He implies enough that Olivia gets some of the answers she seeks, including one shocking revelation about Gabriel. We also find out a little more about Gabriel's troubled childhood and how it continues to affect him to such an extent that he hoards supplies and keeps them hidden around his home.

After swiping some hairs from Macy's brush during a visit, Olivia and Gabriel have her DNA tested against the Conway's and they discover that Macy is their biological daughter. Olivia becomes suspicious of Macy when she discovers that she worked in a funeral parlour and knows how to embalm a body, which would explain why Ciara's body didn't decay while they moved her around. On the way to visit the funeral parlour where Macy worked, they are involved in a car crash, injuring and trapping Gabriel. After managing to extricate him from the vehicle, and dragging him to a safe distance, Olivia attempts to find help, but is stopped when bullets start flying. Macy is the shooter and had been working with Tristan all along. She is furious that she had Ciara's crappy family while Ciara got to grow up with a comfortable family life. Gabriel manages to regain consciousness and rescues Olivia by shooting Macy, ensuring that he hit nonlethal body parts, but Macy turns her gun on herself and commits suicide.

 As I mentioned before, Olivia finally ends her relationship with James, which does not go to plan, and exposes James' true nature, much to her shock. Despite his best efforts, James fails to drive a wedge between Olivia and Gabriel, in fact his tricks push her further away from him and strengthens Olivia and Gabriel's friendship/relationship. Olivia also gets involved with Ricky Gallagher, the son of the leader of the biker gang, Satan's Saints (love that name!), who also happen to be Gabriel's biggest clients. Ricky's father, and Gabriel are unhappy about the relationship, but Ricky and Olivia don't care. He's just what Olivia needs after a passionless engagement to a man she believed she should marry, in order to fit in and not be an outcast, in a society where she feels she doesn't belong.

So, overall, better than Omens but nowhere near as good as Otherworld! She's still my favourite author though!

Thanks for popping by!


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