Sunday, 23 September 2007

Touch the Dark by Karen Chance


Three years ago Cassandra Palmer betrayed the vampire mafioso who killed her parents, to the human authorities. But according to a cryptic computer message her past has finally caught up with her and it's time to run again. However, when escaping is no longer an option, she has to turn to the Vampire Senate for protection, but their help doesn't come for free.

This has been on my TBR pile for ages, and if it wasn't for two things it would probably still be there. But 1) I'm bookfasting this month, so no new books for me and 2) I'd just read the Karen Chance short story in the On the Prowl anthology, which intrigued me enough to dig Touch the Dark out of the pile. And I'm glad I did.

Okay good stuff or bad stuff first?

Let's go with the good stuff. Karen Chance can tell a rollicking good story. Her characters are fantastic, her dialogue is witty. And she is very good at building up sexual tension.

1) Nice first line:-

"I knew I was in trouble as soon as I saw the obituary. The fact that it had my name on it was sort of a clue."

This is the kind of beginning that makes you want to keep on reading.

2) The idea of The Oracle and Crystal Gazing, that this otherworld has its own newspapers.
There are lots of little touches like this throughout the story that really help bring it to life. Example - when they pass Sebastian the werewolf on the staircase. It's just something that happens.

3) Some of it is hysterically funny - well I thought so anyway. Possibly my favourite section of the book is when they're trying to get Jimmy out of the cage. It's like a textbook example of things rapidly going from bad to worse, to absolute goatf**k territory.

And when Cassie initially possesses Tomas and is telling Louis-Cesare to shut up, and LC thinks it's Tomas (not understanding it's Cassie in there), is just hilarious. And Karen Chance pulls this three-way conversation off brilliantly.

4) I love how all her characters are individuals with their own little quirks. Pritkin in particular. It's a great name and fits him to a tee. He reminded me of a banty rooster with apoplexy whenever he came on-page.

And also Billy Joe who has a fantastic sense of timing - NOT!

The bad stuff. Now it may seem like I'm complaining about a lot here. But the book's got a B, I loved it, I've added Karen Chance's website to my favourites and I'm buying the next one in the series. :)

1) - What's with Cassie deciding she'll make her getaway whilst wearing high heels? Does she secretly want to get caught?

2) - The author often stops in the middle of the action to infodump - whether it's on wards during the first fight scene (p22), why people become ghosts, or magical theory. It's annoying. Yes, I'm interested in this stuff if it's going to be important to the story, but not halfway through some major action.

3) The number of times that other characters say to Cassie either that she belongs to the Silver Circle (p59), or that she is Pythia (p124) or a sybil. And she just ignores them. It doesn't get through her thick skull. Whilst we the reader have clearly heard the comments. Somehow they pass Cassie by. This happens not once, but on several occasions. She doesn't question this 'til page 223.

4) Things happen and I wasn't always clear about what's going on or who's present. Cassie needs to pay better attention to her surroundings so it's not so confusing for the reader.

And two personal issue things

5) Again with the not breathing vamps, what's up with that?

6) And p21. One use of 'literally'. But we'll let that go. :)

Finally the ending. I think in another story it might have annoyed me. There isn't really a conclusion as such. We assume that the good guys won the day, but Cassie left Mircea in the past, we never come back to the future, so we don't know for sure what happened. As an aside - How did he get back? But somehow this ending fits with the rest of the story. I wasn't disappointed I just wanted to get onto the next book.


Li said...

This was one of the books I actually enjoyed better the second time around. I liked it when I first read it, but got slightly lost with the whole time-travelling thing and with everything happening so quickly. When I did a re-read, since I understood what was happening, the plot made more sense!

I do like her world, it's unique, and you're right, she tells a good story. I'm looking forward to the third book - think it's coming out April next year.

LesleyW said...

I also liked that her vampires are ruthless, but that they work within a set of rules.

Too many vampires these days seem to be a watered down version that wouldn't scare a kitten.

Naomi said...

You've summed up my feelings completely - especially with the info-dumping.

The first time I started on this book, I actually gave up after about six chapters because the info-dumping was driving me mad. Then I picked it up again and got through it, and enjoyed it. Pritkin was my favourite character, easily. He reminded me of Edward in the Anita Blake series.

I'm not rushing out to buy the next book, but I'll pick it up at some point because I think this is a series that will improve with each book.

scooper said...

The second book picks up where book one left off. I remember being mad at her decision making.

LesleyW said...

Scooper - her decision making in Book 2. Or her decision making at the end of Book1 going into Book 2.

La la la. Only 6 days left of the bookfast. :)

scooper said...

Her decision making in book 2. I finally put it down to the author making her realistic. I know that I'm forever making stupid decisions and altering them after the fact which forced me to reconsider how I felt about the heroine.