AUTHOR: KELLEY ARMSTRONG
BLURB: 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.
Olivia ends up in the small town of Cainsville, Illinois, an old and cloistered community that takes a particular interest in both Olivia and her efforts to uncover her birth parents’ past.
Aided by her mother’s former lawyer, Gabriel Walsh, Olivia focuses on the Larsens’ last crime, the one her birth mother swears will prove their innocence. But as she and Gabriel start investigating the case, Olivia finds herself drawing on abilities that have remained hidden since her childhood, gifts that make her both a valuable addition to Cainsville and deeply vulnerable to unknown enemies. Because there are darker secrets behind her new home and powers lurking in the shadows that have their own plans for her.
Let’s get this out of the way, we have a young woman with a problem who goes to live in a strange town and meets up with a socially stunted young professional with a past. She also hooks up with a ‘bad boy’ who isn’t really a bad boy and part of her troubles include an ex-fiancee with a definite personality flaw. No, I haven’t begun to review City of The Lost again, but you’d be forgiven for getting confused.
Also, elements of an Armstrong comfort zone begin to show up here too. Replace the wolf pack with its ‘life-or-death rules with a biker gang; the female lead from a binary opposite background that doesn’t quite fit in with the misogynistic culture she finds herself in; a love triangle of sorts; dodgy parents with a secret, and a number of other crucial pieces of the plot and you’d think we were returning to the Otherworld series (not that that would be a bad thing).
Having said all of that I wasn’t put off by the apparent overlaps, after all there are really only 13 stories to be told (that’s a review for another day). The plot and characters are interesting enough to encourage you to spend time with them and as an opener to a new series there was plenty to keep you interested.
One last thing to note, Armstrong, primarily known for supernatural fiction, writes a series of detective novels with a hint of fantasy with what no doubt will be a great success. They have a female lead and a cantankerous detective/lawyer as the male lead, with a problematic ex-fiancee. J K Rowling, mostly known as a fantasy writer, writes a detective series with characters of a similar profile but absolutely no supernatural elements (as Robert Galbraith and it would seem that was to make a point). Fair play to Armstrong for not feeling she had something to prove, but imagine what the Galbraith novels could have been like if Rowling hadn’t felt the urge to prove something she didn’t need to prove.
On a personal note, because I’m Irish, the references to Celtic folklore (mostly Welsh but some Irish too) amused me because I’m familiar with them. I’d be very interested in hearing what other readers thought of the tongue twister names you come across in this novel too?
What I Did Like: The supernatural twist that still didn’t diminish the good old-fashioned detective novel.
What I Didn’t Like: It’s beginning to look like Armstrong is using elements of all her Otherworld novels like Lego™. Not a No-No exactly but it could get tiresome.