Thrillers and Chillers: VISIONS by Kelley Armstrong

Visions (Cainsville #2) by Kelley Armstrong

Supernatural Fiction, Urban Fantasy 
Hardcover, 4
96 pages

Published August 19th, 2014 by Random House Canada 
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Disclaimer: This is a review of the second novel in a series and therefore may contain spoilers relating to the first novel. 

[Cainsville] was a small, insular community, still ‘fond of the old ways,’ as the elders liked to say. … A strange little town. And I adored it.

Visions, the second book in Kelley Armstrong’s newest series, does not disappoint as we learn more about Olivia’s supernatural ability and the enigmatic Cainsville. Throughout the novel, there are overarching story lines and mysteries—such as the truth about Olivia’s birth parents and about Cainsville—but, though these thi
ngs are infinitely interesting, they are not what keeps you reading. It’s the little questions, the subtle hints that draw you in. And they don’t let go. 

In Omens, Olivia Taylor-Jones, Chicago socialite and heiress, learned that she was the birth daughter of notorious serial killers the Larsens. She teams up with  Gabriel Walsh, her birth mother’s attorney, and they forge an unlikely alliance. Together they managed to clear the Larsens of at least one set of murders. In the second instalment in the series, Olivia is confronted with the murder of a young woman and how she could possibly be connected to her. Although this connection is not immediately apparent to Olivia, the perpetrator is constantly reminding her that there is one—and that she’s not safe. 

While there are certainly many interesting elements to this new mystery, it makes the novel feel rather episodic. Instead of continuing where Omens left off with the Larsen’s murders, Visions jumps right into an altogether separate mystery. Had Visions  continued where Omens left off in that department, it would have added much more flow to the series. As it stands, it leaves me with the impression that Armstrong might be gearing up for another long series like the Women of the Underworld, and that’s a rather disappointing thought. Series are much more powerful to me when they are shorter, packed with more continuity and intensity. While I did really enjoy Visions, I’m not sure how many more instalments I could handle if Armstrong keeps up with the almost disjointed feel of the key mysteries. 

I appreciate, however, how somehow, everything in the story is connected. You don’t know how, but you need to find out. This almost makes up for the episodic feel of the new murder mystery that’s introduced. By shrouding the little things in intrigue,  Armstrong masterfully adds page-turning suspense to this supernatural thriller. That’s what I’m loving most about this series. Furthermore, while the supernatural is key to the story, it’s not the point of the story. It’s not all vampires and werewolves and magic. It’s not as overt as that. Myth and folklore are carefully weaved throughout, and the story constantly hints at the truth that lies behind them. 

In Omens, Olivia and Gabriel proved to make a great team, and even reached the cusp of friendship. However, something in Gabriel’s past has come up and calls said friendship into question. When Olivia should most be relying on Gabriel, she finds that she is not sure she can trust him. So, as Olivia tries to handle this latest mystery, she refuses to rely on Gabriel. In doing so, Olivia often finds herself the topic of the elders’ conversation—and in the presence of a certain handsome biker. While I understand the author’s intent with this burgeoning relationship, I can’t help but be a little disappointed in it. It widens the rift between Gabriel and Olivia, and often contains excessive and graphic descriptions that have no bearing on the plot. This proved much more distracting than anything, and took away from the story. 

While there are a couple things that I took issue with, overall I really enjoyed this book. My original assessment of Omens still remains true for Visions: “It reminded me, in a sense, of the recipe for a good Stephen King novel: a pinch of murder, a cup of creepy, a dash of the supernatural, and voilà! a good read.” (It’s not quite as intense as Stephen King though!)  If you enjoy mystery/paranormal/supernatural fiction, I recommend that you give this series a try!