Book Review: Portents by Kelley Armstrong

Posted February 11, 2019 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 4 Comments

Book Review: Portents by Kelley Armstrong

I received this book for free from my own shelves in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Portents by Kelley Armstrong
Series: Cainsville
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Published by Amazon Digital on July 31, 2018
Pages: 330
Format: eBook
Source: my own shelves

Buy on Amazon
Also by this author: Omens, Wild Justice, Sea of Shadows, Visions, The Masked Truth, City of the Lost, Forest of Ruin, Betrayals, A Darkness Absolute, Indigo, Rituals, The Unquiet Past, This Fallen Prey, Stolen, Rough Justice, Dime Store Magic, Industrial Magic, Haunted, Broken, Dark Screams: Volume Nine, No Humans Involved,, Waking the Witch, Missing, Alone in the Wild, Watcher in the Woods, Otherworld Secrets, Wherever She Goes, "The Case of the Half-Demon Spy", "Truth & Consequences", "Territorial", "Escape", "Adventurer", Otherworld Chills, A Stranger in Town, "Bargain", Hex on the Beach, "Recruit", "Checkmate", "Framed"

An anthology of seven short stories in the Cainsville urban fantasy series revolving around the tale of Mallt-y-nos and her relationship with Gwynn ap Nudd and Arawn.

Series Order

“The Screams of Dragons”, 0.5
“Devil May Care”, (Seanna gets pregnant)
“Gabriel’s Gargoyles” (ten-year-old Gabriel)
“Bad Publicity” (Patrick when 18-year-old Gabriel is in his first year of college)
“The Orange Cat” (Gabriel, two years after passing the bar)
“Matagot” (TC is following Olivia and then kidnapped)
“Lady of the Lake” (Olivia, who doesn’t have her PI license yet, and Ricky’s motorcycle road trip)

The Stories

The Screams of Dragons” is a scary tale that is about a little boy with dreams of dragons, a superstitious set of parents and grandmother, and the part played by elders in the town of Cainsville. Nothing to do with Matilda, Gwynn, or Arawn. And it’s that nasty Gran who turns Bobby into a sociopath! Urk! A rather extreme example of why bullying and abuse is so wrong.

Devil May Care” finds us looking through Patrick’s eyes at the original disaster that befell Matilda, Gwynn, and Arawn. It’s a long introduction into the legend of the three before the intended story begins with Patrick meeting up with Seanna Walsh, Rose Walsh’s niece and Gabriel’s mother. Hoo, boy.

I did love that paragraph about Patrick’s career: “…exploiting human emotions. A teller of stories, a merchant of fantasies, but mostly, a dealer in the drug of secondhand emotions.”

Gabriel’s Gargoyles” is from Gabriel’s perspective, as he struggles to earn enough money to buy Great-aunt Rose that pack of cards. It’s a fascinating look into Gabriel’s struggle to survive and how he found that last gargoyle.

The Orange Cat” is also from Gabriel’s perspective and gives us some background on his early start as a lawyer and the case that brings him that notoriety he craves. Although, that’s not the case that is the focus, which does provide more insight into Gabriel’s cold reasoning.

Bad Publicity” is a one-two punch. One for the pushy new publicist who forces Patrick into an event, but even more important sorry, Patrick, for writers signing contracts!

Matagot” is from TC’s perspective, the cat Olivia acquires in Cainsville, whose origins we learn. Of TC’s start as a matagot who has been given the chance to do better next time.

Lady of the Lake” uses a dual third-person point-of-view, providing perspectives from Ricky and Olivia who are enjoying a motorcycle vacation and are currently in Canada where they encounter a water fae and a kidnapped baby. There are three angles: an aspect of the Cŵn Annwn, the parallels between Ricky’s birth and Maggie’s birth, and how Gabriel hurt Olivia.

I love, love that comment Ricky makes about the “bargains” they’re writing each other when he tells Olivia to “write it down … I’m starting a scrapbook.” Then there’s Ricky’s realization that he will die one day, and how he could choose to embrace the life he has while he has it. Deep.

There were a number of other scenes I enjoyed, including Jeanne’s horror of serving her guests lobster that reminds me of my school lunch days when I longed for the Wonder Bread of my peers instead of this homemade bread with peanut butter and homemade jelly! It does crack me up that Olivia describes Gabriel’s ethical code as so small that it could be written on the back of a postage stamp, lol. Yet another interesting scene is the comment Armstrong makes about how Olivia accepts Ricky’s illegitimate family business…turns out, poor Ricky, that girls think he’s boring…!

The Cover and Title

The cover is strong in its simplicity. A blurred background of grays with a close-up of three birds sitting on a bare tree branch. There is an info blurb at the top with the author’s name immediately below it in black. The title is below this in gold with the information about this book being a collection from the Cainsville series, also in black.

The title is the signs of future events, the Portents warning of Arawn, Matilda, and Gwynn coming again, and the chance for change.

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