Book Review: City of the Lost – Kelley Armstrong

city of the lostTitle: City of the Lost
Author: Kelley Armstrong
ISBN: 9781250092144
Pages: 416
Release Date: May 3, 2016
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Genre: Crime Fiction
Source: Publisher

Summary

Casey Duncan is a homicide detective with a secret in her past that she’d like to make sure stays hidden. But when her past catches up with her, and that secret threatens to explode,  she knows that she has to run. The question is where? When Diana, Casey’s best friend who’s also escaping a dark past, hears about a small town in the middle of nowhere that people can go to disappear, she convinces a reluctant Casey that this is the place for them. But when they finally make contact, things aren’t as Casey predicted, and it turns out they have a need for someone experienced with solving murder cases.

Review

When I heard that Kelley Armstrong was penning a new series, I was immediately intrigued. I love the way she writes dark, moody atmospheres, and she is so great with mysteries. I eagerly sat down with City of the Lost and I didn’t come up for air until I’d read the entire thing. It was gripping, with incredibly written characters and central storyline that left me guessing until the very end.

Let me be clear: City of the Lost isn’t exactly a believable novel. If you need your books to mirror reality, if reading about a thing that is utterly implausible causes you to not enjoy that thing, then this is not the book for you. Armstrong is a master at creating atmosphere and really bringing you into her world. You’re not supposed to take the time to think about how believable it is; for the entire novel, I was hooked on the story she was presenting, and I loved every minute of it. Yes, it isn’t exactly realistic, but it’s incredibly fun to read and experience.

I absolutely loved the character of Casey in City of the Lost. She genuinely wants to do the right thing and take care of the people around her; she’s a good person, even if she’s as tough as nails. There’s no doubt that Casey can take care of herself, and she does so very well. But it’s also nice to watch her start depending on and leaning on other people, especially to get through the more difficult times. She can be alone. She can take care of herself. But there is value in being vulnerable to others, and it’s great to watch Casey open herself up to that.

City of the Lost was the exact book I needed to read when I was reading it. I’d just come off a bit of a reading slump and could not find a book that could keep my attention. I wanted so badly to just sit down and be fully absorbed by a book, but nothing was keeping my attention. But then I found City of the Lost and I just was so engrossed; it reminded me of the value of the fictional worlds we find ourselves in and how important that escape is for me. I cannot wait for the next book in this series and to see where Casey finds herself next.

Other books by Kelley Armstrong:

Omens
Visions

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Book Review: Visions – Kelley Armstrong

Visions coverTitle: Visions
Author:  Kelley Armstrong
ISBN: 9780525953050
Pages: 464
Release Date: August 19, 2014
Publisher: Dutton Adult
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Mystery
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4 out of 5

Summary:

Olivia Taylor-Jones has settled in Cainsville and is still working to clear the names of her birth parents, accused of killing multiple people. But Olivia is about to get a lot more than she bargained for when she finds the body of a young woman in her car, dressed like her. Gabriel and Olivia must figure out who this woman was and why someone would want to hurt Olivia, and they disturb some powerful supernatural forces in the process.

Snapshot Review:

Olivia Taylor-Jones is back in Visions, the sequel to the slow burn supernatural novel Omens, and now the focus is less on her birth parents than herself. Olivia broke away from the privileged lifestyle she was accustomed to in the first book; she struck out on her own and was determined to make it work. Now, in Visions, the reader sees Olivia struggling to make it on her own. It makes for some interesting character development. The mystery in this novel is slow and takes awhile to unfold, as the focus is on the character rather than the plot. More is revealed about the nature of Cainsville and what is happening behind the scenes, but there are still enough mysteries to leave readers guessing. Those who enjoyed the first novel should certainly be interested to see where Armstrong takes her characters, and leave them eagerly anticipating the third book in this entertaining series.

Other books by Kelley Armstrong:

Omens

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Book Review: Omens – Kelley Armstrong

Omens coverTitle: Omens: A Cainsville Novel
Author: Kelley Armstrong
ISBN: 9780525953043
Pages: 496
Release Date: August 20, 2013
Publisher: Dutton
Genre: Mystery, Urban Fantasy
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4 out of 5

Summary:

Olivia Taylor-Jones thinks she has the perfect life. She’s the only daughter of wealthy parents and she’s engaged to the scion of another old-money family. Everything is going perfectly for her…until Olivia finds out who she really is. Once upon a time, Olivia was Eden Larsen, the daughter of notorious serial killer couple Todd and Pamela Larsen. This news shatters Olivia’s world, and she finds herself in the small town of Cainsville, trying to start life anew. But something isn’t quite right in Cainsville, and when Olivia meets her birth mother, she begins to wonder whether her birth parents are actually guilty of what they’ve been accused.

Snapshot Review:

Omens is an intriguing beginning to a new series. Armstrong does a great job provoking questions and providing some answers, but also ensuring that readers will be left wanting more.

Full Review:

Omens is an interesting mystery novel with a great main character. Olivia is young when the novel begins, only 24 years old, but she’s smart and capable. People constantly underestimate her because she’s rich, and she’s sheltered in many ways. But she adjusts to her new life quickly and is determined to establish herself on her own terms. It’s nice to see a main character with so much resolve; readers don’t doubt that Olivia will find what it is she’s looking for simply because she’s so dedicated.

It’s clear that all is not quite normal with Cainsville. The series shaping up to be an urban fantasy, but it’s hard to say that about Omens specifically. Armstrong litters clues and hints about what is to come, about the greater mythology behind Cainsville, throughout the book. Dedicated readers will enjoy figuring out these puzzles and learning more about this strange town. It will be very interesting to see what Armstrong does next with this greater story arc, but for now, she leaves enough hints to keep readers entertained.

The mystery storyline of Omens is really interesting. Did Todd and Pamela Larsen commit those murders? The reader’s inclination is “no,” though there isn’t really a reason why. It’s up to Olivia to puzzle out what might have actually been going on. It’s well written and stands firmly on its own, apart from (yet inextricably intertwined with) the larger mysteries of the book. The secondary characters help flesh out these storylines; Armstrong paid attention to all the people she wrote in the novel, and it shows in their development.

If you’re looking to get in on the ground floor of a new series, give the first book in the Cainsville series, Omens, a try. It’s on the longer side, but rest assured that the pages will absolutely fly by. Readers will enjoy getting to know Olivia and immersing themselves in her dark, strange world.

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