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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Review: Dark Oracle by Alayna Williams

Title: Dark Oracle
Author: Alayna Willians
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: 05/25/10
Summary:
TARA SHERIDAN HAS A GIFT... AND IT ALMOST KILLED HER.

As a criminal profiler, Tara used science and her intuitive skill at Tarot card divination to track down the dangerous and depraved, including the serial killer who left her scarred from head to toe. Since that savage attack, Tara has been a recluse. But now an ancient secret society known as Delphi’s Daughters has asked for her help in locating missing scientist Lowell Magnusson. And Tara, armed with her Tarot deck, her .38, and a stack of misgivings, agrees to try.

Tara immediately senses there is far more at stake than one man’s life. At his government lab in the New Mexico desert, Magnusson had developed groundbreaking technology with terrifying potential. Working alongside the brusque but charismatic agent Harry Li, Tara discovers that Magnusson’s daughter, Cassie, has knowledge that makes her a target too. The more Tara sees into the future, the more there is to fear. She knows she has to protect Cassie. But there may be no way to protect herself -- from the enemies circling around her, or from the long-buried powers stirring to life within...


Plot: 4.5 Stars
There were a few moments in which this novel felt more like a mystery or science fiction novel, than urban fantasy. But the mystery feel fell away as more characters were introduced and used their talents as oracles, and the science fiction feel fell away as the physics aspect of Magnusson's work was described in more detail. I truly enjoyed the detail in this novel. From the dark matter to the different divination techniques, you could really tell that the author researched very well. The way the author blended the fantasy element of Delphi's Daughters and divination and the realistic element of the criminal investigation was superb.

Pace: 4 Stars
The story pack a lot into a few days span. Tara and Harry travelled over multiple state lines and split up at one point, almost getting caught a couple times. There were a number of enemies coming from different directions. But with all the running and hiding, the novel never felt rushed. It was paced perfectly, and never slowed down. I thought the descriptions of each tarot card would slow the pace down, but it actually helped the plot tremendously because of the author's thorough knowledge.

Characters: 5 Stars
Tara is a fantastic urban fantasy heroine. She is flawed and has her fears, but as the novel progresses, the reader really gets to see her grow and slowly strip away her fears. They're still there, but she realizes that she can continue to live her life with them instead of holing up in the woods. I really enjoyed that she was self-conscious of her scars, but not to the point that it completely got in the way of more intimate situations. Harry was a nice foil to Tara. He tried to understand both her past and her divination, and I think he was really good for her. Cassie, Magnusson's daughter, was very strong considering the situation she found herself in. Maggie, Cassie's dog, offered a chuckle here and there within the action.

Cover: 4.5 Stars
The purple of this cover was bright and inviting without being overwhelming. It's a color you don't see as much of in urban fantasy, and I think it really drawns your attention from the shelf. I don't know if the red title matches, but it stands out on the cover. There were aspects of the cover model that matched my mental image of Tara, and aspects that did not match, but overall the model was a good choice. I enjoyed that the cards on the cover had actual images on them. I am not completely sure the images on the card are from the tarot, but at least they are not blank.

Overall: 4.5 Stars

Disclosure: I bought this book for my own enjoyment.

4 comments:

  1. Ooh I have this one on my TBR pile. Sounds good!

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  2. Great review. I loved this book and am eagerly awaiting the next one in this series

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  3. Wow. Fabulous review and I love the breakdown.

    I always worry about pace- I've read some books where it was a slow start but once it picks up it flies. Problem is- what if I decide to read something else before I realize it picks up or I dont read that on a review. So thx for including the pace of the novel.

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