Cassandra is running out of time to break the geis that was placed on her years ago. Mircea, the vampire who was one of her only friends throughout her lonely, difficult childhood, is also effected by the geis, and is now on the precarious brink of losing his sanity. The risk of a master vampire running amok means he will be cruelly imprisoned in a way that will probably push him permanently over the edge.
Her challenge is to find the Codex, a book that was written hundreds of years earlier, supposedly by Merlin himself. There's a little problem, though: the codex is spelled to unwrite itself over time, so unless she can pinpoint its exact location in the past, far enough back that the spell she needs still exists, it won't help her. Oh, and there are a few other problems as well. There are others who are after the Codex as well - dark mages, war mages, vampires, beings from ancient religions. Many of them also want Cassandra dead. Many of them only want Cassandra dead.
To complicate matters, a group of children show up on her doorstep, refugees asking for Cassandra's help. People she thought she could trust turn out to have a different set of motivations altogether. But Cassandra does have some friends willing to stand by her - to make it, say, rain frogs if a diversion is needed. Unfortunately the forces they are up against are greater in power and number. Cassandra must learn to understand and learn to use her powers as the Pythia in her race against - and through - time.
This series had me from the first book. The complex, detailed back story gives Cassandra's life a depth and breadth that make it stand apart from the many other vampire and supernatural fantasy series that are currently popular. Events are well set up and, as the story progresses, apparently unrelated pieces fall into place seamlessly and unexpectedly. The characters are complicated and well rounded, never stereotypical, and their interactions are believable, often humorous, with dialog that brings everything vividly to life.
Books in the Cassandra Palmer series:
1. Touch the Dark
2. Claimed by Shadow
3. Embrace the Night
Karen Chance was Penguin's guest blogger last week, and she's writing some fascinating things over there - check it out!
And here is something kind of interesting - it's a video trailer for the book! I like the idea, but having just finished the novel, it seems to me that whoever made the video never actually read the book - it has a completely different mood and atmosphere. But I still like the idea!
Embrace the Night (#3 in the Cassandra Palmer series) by Karen Chance (Roc, 2008)
Other blog reviews:
In Bed with Books