Cassie Palmer has come a long way since her first appearance in Touch the Dark. She has accepted (however reluctantly) the fact that she is, in fact, the Pythia. As in the Oracle of Apollo. Except, as we discovered in the last book, Apollo is not exactly the deity one might expect. Unfortunately for Cassie, the last Pythia never had time to train her, and so it's a bit of a hit-and-miss proposition when it comes to using her powers.
Typically the Pythia has years to train her successor, but in this case, the power passed to Cassie and not one of the initiates in training - and those in power are not to pleased about that. Cassie is an unknown, a renegade as far as they are concerned. They far prefer a known quantity, someone raised to be obedient and unquestioning. If Cassie should die, the power will pass to someone else - and anyone, as far as the the power players are concerned, would be better than independent Cassie. It would be much easier for her to learn to use her powers if people weren't constantly trying to kill her - not to mention the people she cares about. Caught between the mesmerizing, charismatic vampire Mircea and the skillful, volatile war-mage Pritkin, each trying to protect her in his own way (and possibly for his own unknown reasons), Cassie is determined to stand on her own two feet and make her own decisions. If only they didn't keep withholding vital information from her....
Cassie is a very endearing heroine - she makes plenty of mistakes but always for the right reasons, and has a penchant for getting herself into dangerous, hilariously incongruous situations. As the book opens she is shot in the backside, and that is just the beginning. As with previous books in the series, the action hurtles along at a breakneck pace, and the characters are well realized, particularly through revealing, realistic and often humorous dialogue. The resulting strength of sympathy for the characters ratchets up the tension as they are exposed to one peril after another. Tight writing, engaging characters, compelling, action-packed plotlines, and plenty of humor make this one of my very favorite series. A fifth book is scheduled for release in the spring or summer of 2010, but meanwhile I will be looking forward to reading Death's Mistress, the second book in Chance's new Dory Basarab series, which is due to be published this coming January.
Books in the Cassandra Palmer series:
1. Touch the Dark
2. Claimed by Shadow
3. Embrace the Night
4. Curse the Dawn
Curse the Dawn (#4 in the Cassandra Palmer series) by Karen Chance (Onyx, 2009)
Also reviewed at:
Darque Reviews: "Curse the Dawn unfolds at a quick and steady pace, with strong characters, a creative storyline and the seductive lure of power. "
e.f. danehy's random ponderings: "Unlike the other series in the genre I’ve read, Chance is willing to do some crazy things to her characters. And I’m not talking “dangerous” things or “complicated” things — I mean crazy crazy things with hilarious results."
Scooper Speaks: "With lovable characters and great pacing, Curse the Dawn, book four in the Cassie Palmer series, is the best book in the series. Don’t get me wrong, all the books were good, but Curse the Dawn surpasses them."