Author: Karen Chance
Released: June 1st 2006
Touch the Dark is the first novel in the Cassandra Palmer series. It’s also the first novel in Cassandra Palmer World – an important distinction because there are actually two series based off of this world. But this is where everything began. So if you’re looking to pick either series up, this is where you’re going to want to start.
The Cassandra Palmer series is a fantasy series, and honestly it could fit into a few different subgenres depending on your mood. Paranormal romance, urban fantasy, you name it. I love the series because it’s fast-paced, quirky, and has a ton of supernatural politics within (something I feel is sorely lacking in a lot of other supernatural series).
Cassie, as she prefers to be known, is a clairvoyant. And no, we’re not talking about the phony type with the bad reputation. She can honestly and truly see the future – usually the dark sides of what the future can show. She can also see ghosts, for better or worse. These abilities have put Cassie in a lot of unusual (and frankly, less than ideal) situations in the past, but nothing quite like what she’s going to be facing in Touch the Dark.
Side note before we begin: I’ve actually read this whole series multiple times (it’s one of my favorites), but it wasn’t until recently that I realized that I’ve never reviewed the older books in the series. So here I am, reading them all again, and loving every minute of it.
Because I’m doing a reread with a group of people (the Karen Chance Street Team – message me if you want to know more about it) I’m also going to include the discussions prompts we’ve been using. That will be at the end of the review, so if you’re curious, check it out.
Touch the Dark was the first novel I ever read by Karen Chance, and I’ve been hooked ever since. Her series has such a unique quality to it, something I’ve never been able to find in any other author’s works.
As I mentioned above, the series is fast paced – and by that I mean that there is almost always something going on. Her writing shows the mastery of controlling chaotic events. Frequently what happens next is unpredictable, and even in the most intense moments there’s usually something that will stop and make you chuckle. The end result is a fun and really relaxing read. A perfect escape from reality.
This novel had to do a lot, and in a relatively short amount of time. Cassie’s world is massive, with mages, vampires, fae, and even werewolves all functioning inside their own societies, but also working together (when forced to, that is). Then there are the people on the outside of these circles, people like Cassie. The end result is a complex world with even more complex politics. And I’ve got to be honest with you here: I love it.
It’s so hard to find a series with a complex political system, especially one that works with multiple supernatural characters/species. So this series was everything I’ve been looking for, and then some. So I’m probably a little bit biased when I say I love this series, but at least you now understand why.
Admittedly I also adore the characters in this series. In Touch the Dark, Cassie and Billy Joe are absolutely my shining favorites. Cassie is strong and has gone through so much already, but she never seems to let that actually get to her. I adore that about her. And honestly, her sass is pretty strong too, so gotta love that.
One thing I will say; I don’t normally like it when a fantasy novel/series brings real life historical figures into the story. Mainly because it frequently just loses something in translation, if that makes sense. But the circumstances in Touch the Dark make allowances for…certain characters to be present and part of the plot. I really can’t let it bother me at all, especially because there’s one character in particular (Rafe – you’ll find out who he is if you read the series) that I’m very fond of.
Reread Commentary: (Once again, spoiler warning)
It’s always interesting going back and reading a series from the beginning. We now know so much more about what is going to happen to each of the characters introduced early on. We know how they’re going to develop, what plot arcs they’re going to go through, and what major reveals are going to happen to them.
Going back to Touch the Dark, I’m struck by a few things in particular, and I’ll list them out below.
Mircea – Man! I knew that he was manipulative, he’s a classic master vampire, of course he’s manipulative. As the series goes on, more and more of that is revealed. But now, knowing how far he’ll go to get what he wants? I can see more of the bread crumbs that were dropped earlier in the series. It’s like getting a bucket of cold water dumped on my head. I can’t believe I ever saw him any differently.
Prikin – His character changes SO much from the first book to the most recent. Or more accurately, maybe he’s always been that way, and it’s just the way he treats/perceives Cassie (the main perspective) that has changed? Either way, I will say that going back and seeing his behavior in this book was…oddly hilarious? In a good way, of course. It’s just fun seeing all his classic bluster as he struts around like an angry turkey.
Cassie – She’s grown up a lot, and learned a lot as she’s gone on. But honestly? Her core character hasn’t changed at all. She’s still the stubborn and sassy lady introduced to us in book one, and I absolutely love that about her. Nothing will drag this girl down.
Tarot Card: The Tower – It was the only one that was really mentioned, but I think I’d have listed as my favorite anyway (because of how relevant it ended up being). It was a symbol for cataclysmic change.
Favorite chapter/scene/plot point: This one was a tough call for me. Touch the Dark holds a special place in my heart, because it introduces so many beloved characters, as well as being the intro to one of my favorite series.
If forced to pick though, I think I’d have to go with the scene where Cassie wakes up after the first attack. It’s where things got really confusing for a while, but it eventually led to us getting a ton of answers. Plus I really enjoyed seeing Priktin pre-liking-Cassie, as odd as that may sound. Nostalgic, perhaps?
Favorite quote: I’m going to have to go with two quotes, because I just cannot narrow it down further.
“He didn’t take his eyes off me, as if he’d like to see my head mounted on his wall over a sign reading PROBLEM SOLVED.”
“Let me get this straight. First you decide I’m a demon because of a power I didn’t ask for and don’t even understand. Then, when that falls through, you label me a fallen sybil and a ho. Am I missing something, or do you just not like me?”
Favorite Political Quote: I totally added my own category here. I ADORE the vamp and mage politics in Karen Chance’s writing, especially because I feel like it’s something that’s lacking in a lot of supernatural novels.
“The Senate is a group of really old vamps who pass laws that the less powerful ones have to obey.”
MVP (not including Cassie): Louis Cesare. I had honestly forgotten just how bad he had it. I don’t think I ever really put two and two together – the vampire that Dory falls for, and the vampire that squiks Cassie out.
Interesting bits I noticed this time ‘round’: Rereading the series has given me a new perspective on the characters. For example, I now know a heck of a lot more about Louis Cesare, Thomas, and basically all the other vampires. But what really struck me was Mircea. I knew he was manipulative, obviously…but now I *know* how deep that runs, and just how far he’s willing to go to get what he wants.
What further research did this book inspire (historical, mythological, etc): Not ashamed to admit that I did some digging on the historical figures mentioned, specifically the ones that got turned into vampires (Rasputin, Rafe, etc). It was fun to see more about the influences. Plus I like the excuse to dig into that sort of thing.
Unanswered questions: I wish we could have gotten into Thomas’ head a bit more. I never quite understood his reasoning in this novel, even though I’m sure it made complete sense to him. I’d just like the chance to sit down and pick his brain a bit, you know?