Book Review: Karen Chance’s Touch the Dark

Posted October 8, 2013 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews

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.

Book Review: Karen Chance’s Touch the Dark

Touch the Dark


Karen Chance

urban fantasy that was published by ROC on June 6, 2006 and has 307 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

Other books by this author which I have reviewed include Curse the Dawn, Death's Mistress, Hunt the Moon, Chicks Kick Butt, Fury's Kiss, "The Gauntlet", "The Queen's Witch", "House at Cobb End", Midnight's Daughter, Claimed by Shadow, Embrace the Night, Tempt the Stars, "In Vino Veritas", Updating Pritkin, Reap the Wind,

First in the Cassandra Palmer urban fantasy series revolving around Cassie, a very reluctant Pythia-to-be and taking place mostly in Las Vegas and any where and any when.

My Take

I loved this story. Chance has taken clairvoyants, witches, and vampires and created a whole new twist on it. One that is too funny and brimming over with drama and tension.

It’s a HUGE cast of characters with so much going on that you may need to read it a few times to pick it all up. I know I’ve enjoyed every re-read I’ve done of it, and I do adore Chance’s cast. They ran the gamut from sweet to way too wicked and the main characters are complex creatures who are both good and bad. I find myself cheering and booing throughout!

It’s action, oops, actions and actions that never stop and are constantly evolving and twisting about.

I hate Pritkin for his leaping to conclusions and unwillingness to listen to anyone but himself, but I did enjoy the description of his weapons “which hovered in front of him in an obedient little line, each weapon waiting its turn.”

“Pritkin looked disgusted. ‘So they’re not monsters and murderous beasts, only misunderstood; is that it?’

Mircea was trying not to laugh.”

The Story

Damn. Damn, damn, damn. They’d found her. That obituary blinking on her computer announcing her death as occurring later that evening. Damn. She had to run. She had to warn Tomas. It wasn’t fair on him and she had to warn him.

And so begins Cassie’s next adventure in her escape from Antonio. It’s been a few years since she ran away from that master vampire who raised her. Raised her because he killed her parents and wanted a tame psychic of his own. She couldn’t bear being the cause of so much death and destruction and she chose to run. And it’s this compassion that forces her to warn Tomas…and leads to Cassie’s doom.

Too bad that psychics can’t foresee their own futures or Cassie would have run the other way and not wound up…so quickly…in the center of this roiling conflict of passions.

For who will control or kill this budding Phythia.

The Characters

Orphaned when she was four years old, Cassie Palmer is a strong clairvoyant who sees ghosts and who is taken into “care” by Tony, a master vampire, who uses and abuses her powers. Laura, a ghost of an old German family, was her best friend as a child. Lizzy, the original heir to Agnes, and Roger are her parents. Tomas is a street kid Cassie befriended and took in; she found him a job as a waiter at Mike’s bar.

Jerry Sydell was the FBI agent who put Cassie into witness protection and helped her pick out a gun. He didn’t believe in the supernatural world, right up until a couple of Tony’s vampire goons tore his throat out. Billy Joe is a hard-drinking, cigar-smoking Irish-American gambler who played the wrong hand in 1858 and was drowned in the Mississippi. Due to a chance purchase in a junk shop, Cassie has inherited him and his dubious services.

Tony and his stable of vampires
Tony is a third-level master who was turned by Mircea in 1513 and has a thug’s mentality. Raphael (the Renaissance artist) is a vampire and one of Tony’s. He should’a never said no to Tony. Alphonse is Tony’s chief enforcer. Jimmy the Rat is Tony’s favorite hit man. Danny is the shrunken head who didn’t pay his vig.

The Vampire Senate
The thirty-year-old-looking Mircea Basarab is Vlad Dracul’s older brother and a member of the Vampire Senate as well as their chief negotiator. A VERY powerful vampire. Tony is one of his and supposedly subservient to him. Radu is Mircea’s younger brother.

Louis-C ésar, a.k.a., GQ, is the European Vampire Senate’s fencing champion on loan to the American Vampire Senate. The Consul was Cleopatra before she was turned; now she leads the American Senate. Jack is the Jack the Ripper whose career came to an abrupt end…thank god. Now he tortures for the Senate. Augusta is one of the Senators. Mei Ling is the Consul’s second, her Enforcer. Chris Marlowe is the Senate’s spymaster.

John Pritkin is a war mage for the Silver Circle and hates Cassie with an obsessive passion! He is sooo totally clueless about what really is harmful to a vampire and how they live that Cassie wonders what they’re teaching mages these days. I do love how Chance describes him! “…his T-shirt was crossed with enough ammunition to take out a platoon, and he had a tool belt slung low on his hips that, along with a strap across his back, looked like it carried one of every type of handheld weapon on the market. I recognized a machete, two knives, a sawed-off shotgun, a crossbow, two handguns…and a couple of honest-to-God grenades. There were other things I couldn’t identify…”

Agnes is the current Pythia, mistress over all supernaturals, and not long for this world. The current heir to Pythia is Myra, and she’s missing. Françoise is a witch who was being tortured in the past at Carcassonne.

Portia is an antebellum ghost who likes to scare the tourists on Atlanta’s streets. There are different kinds of ghosts in Cassie’s world: the imprints are “like a supernatural theater that shows the same move over and over, and haunters are mobile with a fixation. Captain Beauregard Lewis is a ghost friend of Portia’s who brings his Confederate troop to Cassie’s rescue.

At last, we discover why Rasputin was so hard to kill back at the turn of the last century. Nowadays, he’s leading an insurrection. Jonathan is the Black Circle mage whose swords bracelet leaves him and cleaves unto Cassie during the parking lot fight.

There are three types of wards: energy wards which influence people’s minds; perimeter wards used to camouflage activities; and, protection wards which may be personal shields or guards, which operate independently of a person’s power.

MAGIC is the Metaphysical Alliance for Greater Interspecies Cooperation, a.k.a., party central for things that go bump in the night, with its headquarters just outside Las Vegas. Think of it as a supernatural U.N.

The Silver Circle is the “good” witches’ policing agency while the Black Circle is, well, black mages. About the only real difference is that the Black is open about what they’re doing while the Silver is like our politicians: all talk, no action unless it benefits them.

The Cover and Title

The cover is a smoky interior with Cassie’s back towards us. The blinds are almost completely down in the window and Cassie is wearing a wine-red slipdress, the ward tattoo centered between her shoulder blades.

The title is a subtle introduction to the series and one in which Cassie must Touch the Dark.