Title: Touch the Dark
Author: Karen Chance
Publisher: Roc Fantasy
Release Date: 28th June 2007 (UK) | 6th June 2006 (US)
Series: Cassandra Palmer Series, Book 1
Source: My own personal copy
Blurb from Karen Chance's website:
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...
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. What I didn’t know was how they’d found me, and who the guy was with the sense of humor. Antonio has never been much for comedy. I’ve never figured out if that has something to do with being dead, or if he’s always been a morose son of a bitch.'
This first line is pretty awesome, I know finding my own obituary taped to my computer would certainly freak me out. You think this is bad...Cassie can't even begin to comprehend how much her day is going to go down hill from here. Touch the Dark follows the story of Cassie Palmer, a clairvoyant on the run from the vampire who calls himself her master. A man she has caused no end of trouble for – but if he can’t use her gifts...no one can. Antonio wishes her dead, however his master and senate member Lord Mircea has other plans. Mircea is an old vampire. Tall, dark and handsome with eyes of liquid gold, Mircea is the Senate’s chief negotiator...oh and did I mention he’s Dracula’s older brother? Now the all powerful Senate has a favour to ask...vampires have been breaking from their master’s control and the blossoming new power Cassie has may well be the key to preventing all hell breaking loose. The use of these powers may yet save Cassie’s life but will also force her into a role she isn't sure she is ready for... that is if rogue vampires and crazy war-mages don’t kill her first.
Touch the Dark is one of my favourite books, it is also one of the very first adult urban fantasy books I read! I think I first read it when I was about 17 and absolutely loved it. The 3 main characters that feature heavily throughout the entire series are Cassie (obviously), Mircea (thankfully), and unstable but yummy war mage John Pritkin (who is just awesome). After finding the eerie obituary Cassie's life is turned upside down...not only does she find out that her room-mate is a master level vampire but something is changing with her clairvoyance. Before Cassie had only been an observer in her visions...now she is a part of them, something that can have disastrous side effects. Cassie is tough...but there are only so many betrayals one clairvoyant can take.
'I slipped again and fell on my butt, bruising it on something hard. Some part of my brain that was still coherent recognized the shape of the object, and I snatched my gun from beneath me. “Don’t come any closer or I’ll kill you.” I pointed it at Tomas and, despite the fact that it was shaking wildly in my less than steady grip, I could tell he knew I meant it. His eyes, usually soft and warm and open, were opaque black mirrors now. I couldn’t see anything past them, and I didn’t want to. God, I didn’t want to.
“Cassie, you must listen to me.” I looked into that handsome face, and some part of me detached itself to watch another illusion shatter and die. I thought I’d finally done something good, that I’d actually helped someone, saved somebody, instead of always watching every damn thing I did end in pain--either mine or someone else’s. I should have known it was too good to be true, that he was too good. Way out of your league, Cassie my girl, I thought as my back hit the door. Maybe you should start smaller, adopt a kitten next time, only I knew there was very little chance that there would be a next time.'
Our heroine has to be one of my all time favourite characters, and not just because this was one of the very first books in the urban fantasy genre I’d ever read. No, Cassie wins this all by herself, she’s smart, funny and knows she’s not invincible despite the vast power she holds and the loyalty she commands. Though Cassie does have a habit of getting into the worst situations imaginable...and usually wearing the most inappropriate clothing too i.e. her ‘happy face’ t-shirt (which is covered in pieces of dead vampire) which is what she wears the first time she meets the senate...not exactly subtle or elegant. Cassie is also one of the luckiest people I know...and not just because she has Lord Mircea's attentions *sigh...*. Cassie tends to scrape through battles by the skin of her teeth she's not a trained fighter and sometimes wants to sit in a corner with her hands over her head repeating 'the big bad vampire isn't there' unfortunately that would probably lead her to getting eaten...so she fights the best she can and our girl isn't afraid to play dirty.
There is a new spin on supernatural politics and heirarchy that I haven't seen before. Plus vampires aren't the only ones who need to feed to sustain their lives...ghosts like Billy (a ghost that is anchored to Cassie's necklace) can feed off Cassie's energy. Cassie is the only one who can see the ghosts...so naturally they want to talk to her, in return they will do whatever Cassie needs...heck they even kill a master vampire for her! There is humour and suspense as well as awesome action scenes...mostly where we get to see the vampires come into their own and Cassie, not to be outdone, tries to control her newfound powers to aid them in the fight. It's gory without much romance, though you can see the beginnings of a relationship...or two. There are sex scenes but not exactly brimming with romance...though they are great to read you learn a lot about Cassie's character from them.
Touch the Dark kept me gripped throughout and I have re-read it several times (as attested by how battered my copy is becoming). Touch the Dark is a promising start and the entire series is one of my all time favourite Urban Fantasies. I can't wait for the newest addition!
My Rating: 4.5/5