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    Review of TOUCH THE DARK by Karen Chance (see her website)

    Roc, June 2006

    Cassandra (Cassie) Palmer has been on the run for years--ever since she gave the Feds the information they needed to break up a master vampire's network. Not that the Feds believed he was a vampire. When she sees her obituary on her computer, she knows that Antonio has caught up with her. Once she warns her roommate, she'll disappear again--if she can stay ahead of the assassins he'll send. Because Cassie isn't a vampire, but she does have some skills--including the ability to talk to ghosts and to see occasional glimpses of the past or future. Like her namesake, though, all of Cassie's visions are dark.

    Surviving the first attack is rough. But when Cassie finds herself the captive of the vampire Senate, she realizes that there's more at stake than just her own life. At the same time, she begins to experience new abilities--abilities that just might hint at possibilities that make her a valuable pawn for the vampire masters. This might keep her alive, but staying alive as the slave to a vampire master is hardly worth living.

    Cassie's dangers mount when the circle of dark mages joins a renegade vampire master in an attempt to defeat both her and the vampire Senate. Unfortunately, while her enemies are happy to work together, Cassie's supposed allies are split. Worse, her supposed alllies want to keep her enslaved to their own purposes.

    Author Karen Chance offers an intriguing look at the world of vampires, witches, mages, and the fae--all operating under the noses of our human culture. Cassie is a sympathetic character--wishing to discover the truth about her parents, suffering from attacks from any number of vampire and mage opponents, and trying to do the right thing while protecting herself from vampire domination. While Chance adopts the usual vampire conventions (super-sexy vampires, sensual delight from feeding) she avoids presenting vampire society as somehow elevated. Vampires are like us--only better at it.

    There were a few sagging spots in the middle, and Cassie spun her wheels a bit as she held onto hopes of not becoming a vampire slave, yet didn't seem able to think of anything to do about it. For the most part, though, TOUCH THE DARK grabs readers' attention, yanks us into a world of magic--a world where traditional definitions of good and bad aren't really relevant, but where power is always the currency. This is a powerful first book--and I certainly look forward to seeing more by Chance in the future.

    Three Stars

    Reviewed 12/15/05

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