Cainsville, Book 1
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.
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.
Review: Kelley Armstrong embarks us on a whole new genre after the end of her urban fantasy series and I admit that I was intrigued. It’s true that the great reviews appearing everywhere also made me want to try it. I need to finally thank Carien for giving me this first volume (she is a wonderful friend). Oh yes, because I had a great time with the story, much more than what I would have thought, and I was completely caught up in the early chapters, eager to finish it off to see all the events.
Olivia Taylor-Jones is a heir of a wealthy family and her life is already mapped out! She is engaged to a man of her rank who is preparing to become a senator and the wedding is scheduled for the month after. Alas, an event will shake up her life and put everything in question. One evening when she returns home, she learns that she was actually adopted when she was still a child. This is something that is shocking in itself because everyone saw in her the likeness of her adoptive parents, but in addition to this, she also discovers that her biological parents are a couple of famous murderers who killed for no reason 4 couples. You will understand that it’s many things to learn at once. It could have been ok with the support of her mother who was not aware of the situation, or even with her boyfriend … unfortunately, this is not the case … The first reaction of her fiance is to postpone the wedding, something that Olivia accepts difficultly, and she so returns her engagement ring. As for her mother, the woman decides to « abandon » her daughter to go on a trip to Europe, so things can be a bit forgotten. It’s a really difficult moment for a person who understands that her life is a lie and that people she loved and thought would always been there for her, run away. While denying the charity of her family, Olivia leaves as well, trying to hide from everyone and so ends up Cainsville. This is also where she will meet with Gabriel, a lawyer determined to get hired by our heroine.
As I said I loved the novel! The universe is completely fascinating! First, we have Cainsville, this mysterious city that holds many secrets. It starts with all the gargoyles that are found everywhere on the buildings or even those that appear only at night. But we also have those strange birds, the elders who are very interested in our heroine, or even a cat looking more than what it seems. Yes, we are left with many questions throughout the chapters and although very few answers we are given, I am very curious to read more in order to discover the truth.
And then we have Olivia … or Eden. How not having an identity crisis when so many things fall on her at the same time? Realizing that a part of her life was hidden from her is very difficult but now everyone calls her with a different name, expecting to see two opposing people. But in addition to this, Olivia realizes that memories rise to the surface, without really knowing if she sees what really happened. This is something very confusing! Our heroine is able to read the omens in everything she sees, she even sometimes have visions and interpretations that nobody sees. It was fascinating to find out all that. I knew about some but it’s true that I have found some new ones here. Sometimes it’s funny to discover some of which we would never have thought of. It reminds me a bit of the things to myself I’m careful about, because I was raised like that, such as not to put bread upside down, not to open an umbrella inside of a building, not to break a mirror … Those are not here, but we still discover many others and I‘m curious to know more, to know what this gift also means for Olivia and so to see what she will become.
Then there are the Eden / Olivia’s parents… the real parents. We do not meet her father (although I am curious to see what will happen exactly when she will), but we have the chance to discover her mother several times here. Is she innocent? I think this is something that we would all like to know, but what I found particularly interesting is the fact that our heroine and the author does not idealize everything. Of course, we would like all to be rosy, that life would be perfect and that her parents were finally wrongly accused. But there is always an element of doubt as the answers are not found. Therefore Olivia and Gabriel will team up, seeking to understand what is really going on, at least for one of the murders and they will end up in a much larger and complicated story than we could have expected.
So yes, as you can see, we have a lot to discover in this novel and Kelley Armstrong has issued an original story full of ideas and difficult to put down. I can only advise you to try and I hope you will be as delighted as I was with this first volume. I now look forward to reading the following novel which I’m sure will be just as great!