Wednesday, August 26, 2015
The triangle between Olivia, Gabriel and Ricky gathers strength in this installment. Olivia takes her physical pleasure from Ricky and her emotional fulfillment from Gabriel. However, up this point the men have been best of friends and have not interfered with each other's roles in Olivia's life. That changes somewhat in this installment and may change further in the future, but for some reason I believe that no matter what happens these three will remain friends.
Personally, Gabriel's tortured and emotionally stunted character is my very favorite, and that is probably because to me he is the one in need of emotional growth. More of his personality and emotions are revealed in this installment which I liked. Olivia, who is great at figuring out clues to mysteries and omens, is clueless when it comes to men and Gabriel in particular. She seems to be a fan of instant self-gratification and her rush to get physically involved with Ricky is a disaster waiting to happen. More so because she has allowed that relationship to deepen when in fact her feelings for Ricky are not what they should be. There is nothing to dislike about Ricky and I don't believe there will be, on the contrary, he is a great guy and deserves better from Olivia, but I can't help but wish he wasn't there. That is impossible, of course, since he has become key to the overall story arc not just part of Olivia's personal life.
Don't get me wrong, this installment is not all about relationships, it has plenty of action as Armstrong focuses on a particular mystery and the overall story arc evolves. However, as I mentioned in my review of Visions, the characters and relationships do drive the story. The people of Cainsville, Huntsmen, Olivia's parents the Larsens and other beings make key contributions to this interesting, fast read. I read the book in one sitting. The hints of Welsh folklore that began in previous books are further developed and we learn more of what awaits Gabriel, Olivia, and Ricky. At the end, however, we again go back to Olivia's pesky emotional/physical relationship with her men. The overall story arc depends on three people with problems: Olivia with her lack of judgment, need for love and ingrained fear of betrayal, Gabriel with his stunted emotions, neurotic fear of abandonment, and denial, and charming/ruthless Ricky, a young man with something to prove, just now coming out of the dark. The question here is what is destined to be vs. free will. I wonder.
Despite my personal niggles about Olivia's character, this is a fast paced UF installment that moves the overall story arc forward in a big way. Armstrong maintains that edgy atmosphere I loved in the first two books, and the interaction between characters, main and secondary, continue to keep that sense of mystery alive. For those of you who want to know, in her website Armstrong posted that books 4 and 5 have been sold, and she will wrap up the series by then. Good news! Recommended.
Omens, Book #1
Visions, Book #2
Deceptions, Book #3
Monday, August 25, 2014
Visions begins the day after Omens ends with Olivia finding the dead body of a woman in her car. While waits for help from Gabriel, the body disappears, and she questions whether it was a death omen. Their brand new partnership is broken when Olivia distances herself from Gabriel after learning about his deal with her ex-fiancé James. Feeling hurt and betrayed by Gabriel, Olivia re-establishes contact with James who wants her back, while at the same time beginning a sexual relationship with the young biker and son of the Satan Saints' gang leader Ricky Gallagher. Yet, as the story progresses, Olivia continues to reach out to Gabriel, and it is from Gabriel that she seeks intimacy and with whom she feels complete, settled and happy. That seems to be mutual as Gabriel and Olivia become quietly but fiercely protective of each other.
Armstrong develops the urban fantasy aspects of this series through events unfolding around Olivia's investigation into the disappearance of a local Cainsville girl, a girl who looks just like the dead body she saw in her car and coincidentally a lot like Olivia. Cainsville and the townspeople become central in Visions and the exploration into the mythological side of the series begins in earnest. Olivia's powers are no longer restricted to reading omens, and she experiences dreamlike visions when she stumbles into a mysterious empty house in Cainsville. New players are introduced as Olivia, Gabriel, and even Ricky and James get pulled into an increasingly dangerous game with both Olivia and Gabriel becoming the main targets of some powerful otherworldly beings. But how is all this related to the Larsens? And why? Clues abound in this installment if, as Gabriel says, "you just pay attention."
Visions is driven by the characters and evolving relationships: Olivia, Gabriel, Ricky, and James, and Gabriel, Olivia and Cainsville residents (Rose, Patrick, Ida, Walter, Veronica). The characters and the relationships they establish are the most compelling aspect of this novel. And it is through them that everything else comes to fruition, including the mystery that surrounds the murders and the Welsh folklore Armstrong utilizes to build the magical aspects of the urban fantasy -- omens, visions, horses, hounds, ravens, fairy circles, and more. So far, I am enjoying her modern twist on the folklore. The mystery in Visions is weaker, or let's say less complex, than the one in Omens, however, by the end Armstrong beautifully ties it to the main story arc.
Most of the novel is again narrated from Olivia's first point of view perspective, intermingled with key chapters written in the third point of view from different characters, with Gabriel's chapters providing the most interesting personal views of himself and Olivia. His character is the most attractive and mysterious of this series so far. Olivia ironically refers to herself as a "special snowflake" at one point in the narrative. Well, with Gabriel, Ricky, and James fighting for her attention (and others courting her favor), she certainly fits the description.
I hate triangles even when there is only a possibility of romance involved as is the case between Olivia and Gabriel. I simply love Gabriel's character. James is a dangerous whacko who is being influenced so he doesn't count, but the highly lusty relationship between Olivia and Ricky is surprising. Having said that, I find Armstrong portrayal of both Ricky and Gabriel as males who don't judge Olivia for her personal relationships extremely refreshing. I do wonder if that will last? And, yes, Olivia is strong, intuitive and trying to figure out who she is, but at times I find her to be somewhat immature and impulsive with a touch of arrogance.
I love the ending. There is a step forward for Gabriel. It seems like the main story arc will pick up some momentum now that we have some major players and know a bit more about Cainsville. A new character will be added to the mix and I can't wait to see how that will play out! Do I really have to wait another year for the next book? Sigh…
Category: Urban Fantasy
Publisher/Release Date: Dauton/August 19, 2014
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Omens, Book #1
Visions, Book #2