“Claimed by Shadow” by Karen Chance is by far one of the strongest titles in the urban fantasy genre or perhaps the paranormal romance. I didn’t quite catch how people labeled the Cassandra Palmer series. To include a synopsis for a novel, whose pace threatens to break the sound barrier, is a bit of a challenge. The innocent 374 pages long novel manages to pull off a marathon through all kinds of hellish situations and sceneries such as Las Vegas casino under siege, magical tattoo parlor, 19th century England and a different realm.
“Touch the Dark”, first installment in the series, left Cassandra on the hunt for Antonio, the vampire, who raised her in his court. Unfortunately she is on the run from the American Vampire Senate itself; the Circle (mages organization) and Rasputin, who has coupled with the homicidal and careerist clairvoyant Myra. In between maneuvering around these fractions to stay alive and get the information she needs, Cassandra has to deal with the power of the Pythia, which acts on its own sending her back through time. On her list are included dealing with her ghost in a necklace Billy, convincing bounty hunter mage Pritkin she is not evil and babysitting ancient Greek demigods.
I personally don’t mind dynamics and diversity in sense of speedy changes in situations, introductions of new characters, ideas, magic and mythology. However the tricky thing to vacuum so much action in one book no matter the length is that it can backfire. My main issue was that I couldn’t quite follow the line of thought after I have paused for the day. There is too much happening to remember it all, no matter how thrilling and ingenious it was. The next problem appears actually getting tired from reading. Cassandra Palmer goes through several days on the run and around the middle, when another monster decides to attack her, I really started asking myself how is it plausible for Cassandra to physically operate. Good thing Karen Chance caught on the same issue as well and knocked her out along the way, while Cassandra admitted that her body was not functioning properly.
But getting around those problems is easy and beyond that we see the greatness of Chance’s work. The angle I enjoyed most so far has been the constant exposure to the paranormal world and every page brings a new creature, spell or myth to the pile. Every author can do it, true, but Chance adds her own flavor to what she includes from the world culture. I particularly enjoyed her portrayal of the incubus, which doesn’t actually own a body of its own, but has to possess a human body with natural charms. Then again come my favorites for this book, the Graeae – the three old women with one eye and tooth shared between themselves in Greek mythology, who protected Medusa’s island. Quite the cast of celebrities also airs in this novel starting with Rasputin, Vlad Dracula, Bram Stoker and a hint that perhaps Merlin will make an appearance in next installments.
Karen Chance has gathered the best from Greek, Norse mythologies, the stories told during the Middle Ages and even modern myths. Cassandra has her hands on an arsenal of weapons, which catch the reader’s attention and leave him/her imagining what the possibilities for mass destruction might be. I know I have. The spotlight however is taken by the Pythia’s power, the most potent clairvoyant gift. As it happens the gift chooses its next inline initiate and Cassandra happens to be it. I am thrilled with what Chance has done with such a passive power such as clairvoyance, giving it importance, hiercharchy, which dates back to the Delphi oracles.
All in all, you won’t make a mistake with this series and every book gets better and better. This reviewer was a very happy camper with this novel in his hands.