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Touch the Dark    by Karen Chance order for
Touch the Dark
by Karen Chance
Order:  USA  Can
Roc, 2006 (2006)
* *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Karen Chance introduces yet another fierce, independent and kick butt heroine in her debut dark fantasy, Touch the Dark. Clairvoyant Cassandra Palmer has suddenly become a target for all sorts of bad guys, number one on the list being a vampire mafia boss she testified against, who's notorious for holding a serious grudge. She's managed to keep one step ahead of her nemesis for three years, but now Tony's minions have found her and he's out for his pound of flesh.

Cassie has no choice but to seek protection from the vampire Senate. They are sympathetic to her plight, but of course they won't protect her out of the goodness of their undead hearts. Certain members of the Senate, as well as a few sorcerers and other supernatural creatures, know that Cassie's clairvoyant abilities are very advanced. She can see as well as travel into the future and the past, a rare gift that could be used to change or even erase lives and alter history. One of the Senate's most powerful members, Mircea, becomes Cassie's protector, not only from Tony's many minions, but also from other members of the Senate who would like to use Cassie's gift to shift the Senate's power to their advantage - especially when they finally discover her true destiny (one that Cassie wants no part of).

Chance puts a nifty twist into her mythology by introducing a who's who of real historical figures, some of whom are high ranking members of the Senate. Most notable are the brothers Tepes: Mircea, Radu and Vlad, (aka Vlad the Impaler). She goes on to set up a sizzling and complex dynamic between Cassie and her protector, Mircea. Unfortunately this and other major plot points do not become clear until the latter part of the book. Chance (or rather Cassie since the book is written from her point of view) spends too much time explaining every aspect of her world, interjects back story and relationship issues at awkward intervals, and introduces what feels like an endless parade of characters.

All of this bogs down the first half of the plot. The story does eventually get back on track and when it does it races forward to a riveting cliffhanger. Despite these flaws, Touch the Dark is a well written, engaging story and I look forward to the next installment.

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