After the shocking revelations made in the Private prequel, The Book of Spells, Noelle and Reed know they are descendants of the original Billings Girls and their legacy includes a mysterious coven of witches. But it's nothing compared to what happens next.
One by one, Billings Girls go missing from campus.
The entire community bands together to find the lost girls, hoping they are still alive. Reed can't believe tragedy has struck Easton again, and she begins to wonder if the Billings Girls are cursed. But when the first body shows up containing a message just for her, she fears her friends are worse than cursed: they're doomed.
Ominous by Kate Brian is the penultimate novel in a series of fourteen - yes, that's right, fourteen. Luckily I'd read most of the others already, courtesy of my school library, so I could vaguely remember the events of the previous books.
Ominous picks up right where Vanished ended - after Reed discovers the supernatural secrets behind the Billings Literary Society. When I read this new development in Vanished, I was very, very skeptical. To suddenly introduce supernatural elements right at the end of the series made it seem as if Brian was trying to integrate magic and ghosts and the like just because of the overwhelming popularity of YA Supernatural novels these days. I highly doubt that it had been planned out from the beginning. Rather, it was a way to strike to birds with one stone - profit from the public's interest in the supernatural, and introduce a spin-off series set in the nineteen century; historical novels are becoming increasingly popular, after all.
Ominous completely changed that opinion, I'm happy to say. The foray into magic seemed like a natural progression. It was a plausible reason for the events of past novels, considering the outlandishness of the situations that Reed has encountered over the course of series. She'd experienced murder a gazillion times anyway, so why not explain that with a supernatural twist? It didn't seem forced at all to me, especially because of Brian's prose, which remained careful and controlled, with the right amount of description to keep the reader interested. I'll be interested to read what Brian has to offer once Private and its various spin-offs end.
The relationships between the characters were fairly realistic. Thankfully, Noelle's personality did not do a completely turnaround once discovering that she and Reed were sisters. Now that would have been hard to believe. I especially liked the relationship between Josh and Reed - it was healthy and strong with both characters trusting each other completely and relying on each other the right amount - that's something you don't see in a lot of YA novels these days, so it was refreshing to read their interactions.
A good, solid addition to the series. Will definitely be picking up the next one.
Thanks very much to Simon and Schuster for providing me with a copy for review!