In my quest to finish off (or at least catch up) with some of the numerous serieses I have started, I picked up Claimed by Shadow by Karen Chance (374 pgs, ROC, 2007) which is Book 2 in the Cassandra Palmer series.
Any day that starts off in a demon-filled bar that is designed to look like Hell isn't likely to turn out well. But all I thought at the time was that a brothel should be more fun -- especially one that was for ladies only staffed by handsome incubi.
Cassie Palmer isn't having a good day. Now that she has become the heir apparent to the title of Pythia, the world's chief clairvoyant, you would think things would be easier. But Cassie doesn't really want the job. Unlike other Pythia, Cassie was never trained to use the power. And besides, the job comes with strings attached. The Silver Circle of mages want to control her and so does the Vampire Senate. To top it all off, there are lots of people out there that just want to kill her. And the only thing Cassie really wants is to find Antonio, the master vampire that raised her, and now has a bounty on her head. When she learned that Tony killed her parents and trapped her father's spirit, she is looking for a little revenge. But Tony escaped from the Senate, and is hiding in Faerie, a seriously bad place to be if you aren't Fey.
The list of players in this book is long and rather intimidating. Besides Cassie and Tony, there is Mircea, the Master vampire that Cassie has known all her life. Because Mircea knew Cassie had the ability to become Pythia, he placed a geis on her at an early age. This lovely little spell was meant to ward off would-be suitors because to gain the Pythia power, you must be a virgin. But one of the unfortunate effects of the geis is an unbelievable attraction to the person that placed the spell....an attraction that goes both ways.
Then there is John Pritkin, the War Mage and the Silver Circle's Chief Assassin. Friend of foe, Cassie doesn't know. She's pretty sure that Pritkin would rather kill her than look at her, but he also needs her help for something. She just doesn't know what that something is.
Myra was supposed to be the next Pythia. She spent her life being trained by the mages to use the power, only to be passed over for Cassie. Myra is super-pissed off and would like nothing better than to see Cassie dead.
Because of all the characters, the book gets a little complicated. It takes a lot of concentration to follow all the storylines and keep up with everyone. To top it all off, you really don't know who is on the good side, and who isn't. But if you can wade through all of that, the story is a really good one. Karen Chance has created a world in which the Pythia (named for the ancient Greek clairvoyant priestess that presided over the Oracle of Apollo) has the ability to go back in time to change events. However changing an event can cause major upheaval in the future. She also gives us a look at the dark world of Faerie, that certainly isn't like Disney's version.
I really enjoyed this book. Cassie is a strong character....she is tougher than she looks and has a mind of her own. Mircea, Vlad the Impaler's brother in fact, is dark, sexy and undead. My kind of guy! Where the first book in this series sets the stage and introduced us to the characters, this book goes a lot farther. Non-stop action from page one, Claimed by Shadow is an incredible thrill-ride!! Unfortunately, not all the questions are answered, and you are just going to have to keep reading the series to find out where the everything falls in the end. If you are a lover of the paranormal, this is a great series to start. I totally recommend reading it! 4/5