Cassandra Palmer #1
by Karen Chance
Published on June 6, 2006 by Roc
Genres: Adult, Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy
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Cassandra Palmer can see the future and communicate with spirits—talents that make her attractive to the dead and the undead. The ghosts of the dead aren’t usually dangerous; they just like to talk…a lot.The undead are another matter.
Like any sensible girl, Cassie tries to avoid vampires. But when the bloodsucking mafioso she escaped three years ago finds Cassie again with vengeance on his mind, she’s forced to turn to the vampire Senate for protection.
The undead senators won’t help her for nothing, and Cassie finds herself working with one of their most powerful members, a dangerously seductive master vampire—and the price he demands may be more than Cassie is willing to pay....
Cassie Palmer has been running for half her life. She has a lower-level master vampire on her tail and ghosts popping up around her current city. The ghosts are fine; it’s when a team of vamp assassins show up that things get a little messy. Cue her roommate revealing a big secret and a trip to MAGIC, the center of paranormal politics. There she becomes reacquainted with her “Uncle Mircea” who isn’t so much of an uncle anymore (or ever was–vamp families, about as messed up as you can get). Now here’s where the story gets fuzzy, and by fuzzy I mean choked with info dumps, among other issues. Granted, for the start of a series, Touch the Dark isn’t the worst I’ve read. Chance spins a tale of an untrained clairvoyant, some sexy (and not so sexy) vamps, and a few other supernatural characters, and the story is decent for the most part. But those info dumps…they make things worse every time.
Touch the Dark has a decent plot, but aspects of it don’t quite make sense, specifically time travel. First off, Cassie learns all about time travel and her ability to shift through (and alter) time. Now if you know any of the stories regarding time travel, you’d know that messing with time is bad. Very bad. Yet she flies through time and changes it without much of a second thought. Then there is the cropping up of random historical figures. It’s as if Chance Googled “Names in History” and picked a handful from the list to throw into the story. Now as for specifics, I had a particular issue with Cassie’s “Uncle Mircea,” the master vamp and head of the “family” she was raised by. It wouldn’t be so bad if he hadn’t claimed her when she was eleven. And now it’s “boyfriend/I-don’t-know Mircea” instead of “Uncle Mircea.” The fact that she saw him as an uncle figure and now he’s making moves is disturbing, to say the least. Otherwise, I didn’t mind his character too much. Cassie, on the other hand, I have mixed feelings about. I didn’t dislike her. She’s not the typical kick-ass heroine which was a nice change of pace but at the same time, she came off as flat. There wasn’t a lot of personality there. Her abilities to communicate with ghosts and sporadically See the future somewhat made up for that as I haven’t seen that in a paranormal romance yet. As a whole, the cast was average at best. I look forward to seeing how they develop–and please give me more of Pritkin. He’s minor but I can see him playing a bigger role in the future.
The novel, as a whole, isn’t terrible. The writing flows well and the characters are interesting enough for me to have invested some emotion into their success. What didn’t work was the constant info dumps interrupting every scene. Chance had some great action scenes and the characters did just fine explaining what was going on without actually going into drawn-out descriptions of everything. It became quite irritating when Cassie would cut in with a random fact or a paragraph of details that immediately kicked me out of the story. The info dumps were the major cause for the low rating as well as the biggest turn-off of this book. I read Touch the Dark for the characters and the semblance of a story more than the writing style as is the case with some of the authors I read. Here’s the hoping that Chance gives her readers a little more credit in the future.
So the question stands: will I read the sequel? Probably. I think this series has potential and it’s a decent read. If nothing else, I was fairly entertained and I don’t regret taking the time to read it. Hopefully, Cassie becomes more of a human being and less of a cardboard cutout, and I want more Pritkin. He’s got that intense, I-can-kill-you-all-in-my-sleep vibe going on that makes him quite interesting. Touch the Dark is worth giving a chance if you’re a fan of urban fantasies and/or paranormal romances with lots of vampires and a little time travel.