Karen Chance,
Touch the Dark
(Roc, 2006)

Cassie Palmer has had an unusual life. Not only is she a clairvoyant who can see ghosts, but she was raised by vampires. Her master, Antonio, used her clairvoyant talent in his various criminal enterprises. But Tony never broke any vampire laws, so when Cassie finally got tired of being used to hurt people, she had to turn to human law enforcement agencies, and she's been on the run ever since.

But now Tony's goons have found her again, and it's time for Cassie to leave town. Fortunately for Cassie (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it), Tony is not the only vampire interested in her. The entire vampire Senate wants her to put her talents to use on their behalf. They will, of course, protect her from Tony, but it would mean the end of her freedom. Talk about a rock and a hard place.

On top of that, Cassie's talents have suddenly become both stronger and weirder. And to make matters worse, not one, but two Circles of magic users want her dead. Needless to say, Cassie's not having a very good day.

Touch the Dark is a rousing urban fantasy from debut novelist Karen Chance. Cassie's first-person narration makes the story immediate and enthralling, and adds a smidgen of humor to what could be a very grim tale indeed. As Cassie can't reach her full potential while still a virgin, the novel is laced with sensuality, but does not devolve into a supernatural shag-fest -- though it does eventually get explicit.

Filled with great characters -- historical vampires, were-creatures, witches, an irascible pixie, ghosts -- the story grabs you on the first page and doesn't let go until the end. It's a worthy addition to the burgeoning field of dark urban fantasy, and I'll be impatiently awaiting a sequel.

by Laurie Thayer
25 November 2006

Buy it from Amazon.com.