Dear Cainsville Series: A Fitting Ending to a Fantastic Series

Olivia Jones must make a choice. Caught between two rival supernatural forces, Liv was granted a brief period in which to make her decision. Now that time has run out. Whichever side she chooses, someone she loves will pay. Her lover, Ricky. Gabriel Walsh, the man she knows she cannot, must not love. Her parents, already trapped in prison.

And now there is a new, terrifying power rising – one that doesn’t distinguish between good and evil intentions. It feeds on chaos and destroys without mercy. Unless Liv acts fast, no one will survive.

In this gripping thriller, international bestselling author Kelley Armstrong brings the Cainsville series to a powerful, richly rewarding climax. 

  • Please note: as the final book in this series has just be released, some spoilers for the series may be revealed, but not the ultimate outcome of the fifth book. 

Dear Omens, Visions, Deceptions, Betrayals and Rituals – may I call you the Cainsville Series?

It’s been quite a journey with all of you, but we’ve finally reached book five in the series. The Cainsville Series first caught my eye with Omens, where we met Olivia, Gabriel, the gargoyles and Olivia’s mysterious connection to the odd town of Cainsville. We had a suspicion of what might be coming with some supernatural hints in that book, but we really didn’t know what we were in for, did we? Further books revealed a much more complex history and some truly wonderful worldbuilding, including Welsh and Celtic legends, hounds, horse and so much more.

The Wild Hunt, a mysterious repeating history, a love triangle throughout the ages – it’s all catnip for this paranormal/gothic/legends-and-myths lover. What I didn’t expect was such detailed characters, ones who would bury their way into my brain and leave me wanting to know more about them between books. I didn’t expect Cainsville to appear in my dreams, suspiciously close to my own tiny village right down to the all-seeing neighbours and a serene surface that hides a multitude of secrets. I didn’t expect to become so involved with the myths and legends that I would scour the internet for more stories of the Wild Hunt.

The characters though … Olivia (Liv, let’s not stand on ceremony) is a remarkable character in that she really comes into her own over the course of the five books. As I re-read the first four books in the series in preparation for the last, I was struck once again by how well Armstrong has written Liv as she begins her journey, right down to the intelligent, capable and very strong woman she becomes in the final chapters. While I’ll admit to being #TeamGabriel from book one, I really appreciated not only the evolution of Ricky as a character but also how his relationship with Liv was healthy, supportive and sex-positive on both sides. That Ricky is an intelligent and caring guy who happens to be a badass with a motorcycle and a seriously cool family history (real-life and mythological) only adds to his charm. It’s Gabriel, though, who has my heart and he has shown tremendous growth over the past five books. From coolly charming and deceitful rogue with a very scarred past to a still coolly charming but much more vulnerable and honest man, Gabriel has had, in my opinion, the hardest journey to accept not only his own past but the weight of history that follows him.

There’s a lot more back story in this book to accompany what some have referred to as the “monster of the week” (a la X-Files!), but the interesting twist is that this book’s “monster” is the bigger threat that’s been looming over past books – the sluagh. There are more flashbacks to the long-running history of Matilda, Gwynn and Arawn, much more interaction with the Cŵn Annwn and the Tylwyth Teg, as well as other mythical folk such as the lamiae and some new dryads (whom I greatly enjoyed) and a pretty amazing final challenge with the sluagh. Without spoilers, I do think that everything Liv has learned about herself comes into play during this last battle, and it’s clear that she needed the time to grow and develop her own sense of self (beyond Gabriel and Ricky, beyond the legend and all expectations) in order to face the darkness. It’s a great reflection on real life in many ways, as we often need to face the darkness in our own lives before we can truly test our own strength.

Ultimately, though, I found that the Cainsville series is about the choices we make and how we choose to live with the consequences. We learn that everyone must face the consequences of their actions – from Pamela with her horrible actions in order to help her daughter, to Matilda past, present and future, who must reconcile the past with her choices for the future. Patrick, Rose, Ioan and others are also in a position to face the decisions of their past in this book, and it’s fascinating to see how even the Ancients can regret their decisions.

Rituals is the fifth and final book in the series, and it wraps things up in a way that I enjoyed. Having said that, I know I wouldn’t mind returning to Cainsville again to look for gargoyles and other monsters with Liv, Gabriel, and Ricky as well as the others. Here’s hoping that author Kelley Armstrong feels the same.

Affectionately,

Jenn

Rituals is published by Penguin Random House of Canada, and is available now for purchase. A copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. It may be purchased from your favourite independent, online or bricks & mortar booksellers. ISBN: 9780345815231, 496 pages.