Book Review: Rituals by Kelley Armstrong

Posted October 4, 2017 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 2 Comments

Book Review: Rituals by Kelley Armstrong

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

Rituals by Kelley Armstrong
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Published by Random House on August 15, 2017
Pages: 496
Format: Hardcover
Source: the library

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, 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, Portents, 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", Cursed Luck, High Jinx, Bitten

Fifth and last in the Cainsville urban fantasy series set in and around Chicago and revolving around a woman pursued by the Tylweth Teg and the Wild Hunt. It’s been two years since Liv’s adoptive father died.

My Take

It’s been a complex, slowly unveiling story over the series arc in which Armstrong incorporated a number of beliefs about the fae while using first-person protagonist point-of-view from Liv’s perspective. It’s a fascinating premise, that of fate insisting that Liv/Matilda make a choice, and I had wondered how Armstrong would end this. A brilliant ending that makes sense, even if it doesn’t solve everything.

It’s been a painful journey for both reader and Gabriel, for he is so incredibly reluctant to expose any emotions and render himself vulnerable. He had reason, but oy, it’s been frustrating. And it turns out he’s a terrified romantic, and terrified that he might lose if he took the next step. It’s a simple “cure”, but so very important for any one of us to acknowledge. Sigh, there is a great deal of growth for Gabriel in this.

Oh, man, you will NOT believe who slithers out of the woodwork. What a piece of work! We do learn more about Gabriel’s life with his useless mother. The truth also comes out about that pact made so long ago between Arawn and Gwynn. Falling in love can really be a bitch.

Then there’s Ida. Gabriel gave her what for, and I had to laugh…and savor it. On the opposite side of the spectrum was the scene in the forest with Greg Kirkman. Jesus. Then Liv’s realization about the woman who clawed her eyes out and cut out her own tongue.

Armstrong’s reasoning about fae blood and how it interacts with the human shape — Liv’s spina bifida, Seanna’s lack of conscience — was fascinating, as was her explanation for Liv’s love for sportscars and Ricky’s and his father’s love for motorcycles.

The dryads will crack you up. They’re so frivolous and silly. And not.

This installment is the twistiest of the lot, and yet answers so very many questions, more even than I could ever expect.

The Story

Liv, Gabriel, and Ricky are determined not to make the same mistakes their past trios have made. They intend to stick together and thwart their usual fates, aided by those glimpses into past Matildas, Gwynns, and Arawns.

The Tylweth Teg don’t help matters what with the lies and manipulations. Of course that third “entry” only makes everything worse…and better, for their entrance begins to clear up so many, many questions.

The Characters

Olivia “Liv” Taylor-Jones knew she had been adopted. She didn’t know who her real parents were. That she had started life as Eden Larsen suffering from spina bifida, daughter of notorious serial killers Todd and Pamela Larsen. Liv has been working for Gabriel as a researcher and investigator. TC is the cat who adopted her, and it turns out he’s Felix, a matagot. Liv is also the personification of Mallt-y-Nos, Matilda of the Night, of the Hunt, the half-fae, half-Hunt woman contended over by Gwynn and Arawn in every “reincarnation”.

Gabriel Walsh is a wildly successful defense lawyer whom the police hate. He’s also Gwynn ap Nudd, king of the Tylweth Teg. His family, the Walshes, are con artists and thieves, and Great-aunt Rose Walsh, who lives in Cainsville and has the Sight, is one of them. Seanna Walsh is/was Gabriel’s mother, a petty thief who fancied herself a con woman and drug addict, who died fifteen years ago. Lydia is Gabriel’s very efficient secretary.

Ricky Gallagher, the gorgeous heir to Satan’s Saints, a motorcycle club, is pursuing an MBA. He’s not quite Liv’s ex. But he is Prince Arawn, one of the Cŵn Annwn and legendary lord of the Otherworld, the third leg of their triangle. Lloergan “Lloe” is a fae hound who had been badly treated and whom Ricky saved (Betrayals, 4). Don is his father, the leader of the club.

Cainsville is…
…a sleepy little town outside Chicago and is populated and run by the Tylwyth Teg. The Carew House is Liv’s great-great-grandmother’s, Granny Carew‘s, place. Ida is one of the fae elders. Walter is her consort. Veronica, a coblynau, is another of the elders, but one who doesn’t agree with the general Tylweth Teg attitude toward Liv. The damaged Pepper is a lamia who lives with Veronica. Patrick is a romance writer, a bòcan, and Gabriel’s father. Grace is a bogart and rents out apartments, but it’s all a cover for its true purpose. Jack is Grace’s cousin.

Melanie was a lamia killing off her sisters in Betrayals, 4. Bobby Sheehan had been a changeling who grew up to be a murderer. Hannah had been Rose’s best friend, a girl who could understand animals.

The Wild Hunt, the Cŵn Annwn, made…
…a deal with the Larsens twenty-two years ago. The Wild Hunt’s mission is to execute the truly guilty. Ioan leads the Cŵn Annwn and is Ricky’s grandfather. Brenin is his alpha hound; Lludw is his raven. Meic (Derwyn is his hound) and Wmffre are Huntsmen escorts.

Alexios and Helia are dryads who are anxious to help. And you’ll be crying at the end…

The sluagh are…
sidhe, the darkness, the unforgiven, the heb edifeirwch. They’re the souls of those who cannot be forgiven in the form of birds, the melltithiwyd, who claim unwary souls by devouring the host. They care not if you are truly guilty, as Duncan discovers when his Mary marks him, for they are only intent on feeding their hunger.

The law in Chicago
Detective Fahy has had dealings with Gabriel before. Negative ones. Porter is one of the prison guards where Todd is being held. Some of the other prison guards are Huntsmen, part of the Cŵn Annwn, including Keating.

Imogene Seale, mistress to Marty Tyson, is a witness in a multiple homicide. Lisa Tyson had been Marty’s wife. These two along with Stacey Pasolini and Eddie Hilton had murdered the first couple: Amanda Mays and Ken Perkins. Greg Kirkman went missing some years ago. James Morgan had been Liv’s fiancé.

The Cover and Title

The cover is horrible from a reader’s standpoint. Well, from mine. I’m glad to see that they brightened it up for those thumbnails online! Every aspect is a shiny metallic with a deep, almost-grey silver background to the embossed author’s name in a slightly lighter shade. The title does stand out more in gold. Part of the background is a bare-branched tree into which we look up, from a lying-on-the-ground perspective. I do appreciate the series information in the lower right corner within its city-like highway sign.

The title is the truth, the Rituals that brought everyone to this moment.

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