Embrace the Night
by Karen Chance
(Roc, $7.99, PG-13) ISBN  978-0451-46199-5
*****
In the two weeks since she became Pythia - head clairvoyant and time traveler of the supernatural world, Cassie's been through a lot. For a girl who's always tried to blend into the background to avoid unwanted vampire attention, it's kind of hard to handle a leadership position, for one thing. For another, one of her first big oopses of her new career was to accidentally double the geis that binds she and Mircea, master vampire and vampire Senate member ... one hundred years ago. So now, Mircea's being driven mad by the spell he cast on her for her own protection (and, to be certain, for his own intents and purposes).

Turns out there are two ways to undo the geis: sex with Mircea or someone of his choosing, and a spell in the Merlini Codex. Yep, the grimoire of the great wizard Merlin himself. The crazy war mage Pritkin, who has sided with Cassie against his own organization, has already informed Cassie that there is only one Codex and she's going to have to go back a few hundred years to get it ... after it's written and after it's left the hands of Merlin, but before it begins to unwrite itself, a special little twist Merlin added when he created it.

Cassie's usual series of adventures and misadventures ensues, including being introduced in a rather surprising and somewhat unpleasant manner to Pritkin's father, who has decided she's going to cause him a lot of trouble. She's promised several different groups the Codex when she gets it. Since she's not even sure she can, she also gets to deal with all of those powers breathing down her neck.

This book, unlike the previous two, Touch the Dark and , focuses mostly on Cassie, and elaborates greatly on her relationships with Pritkin and Mircea. Since Cassie herself isn't sure how to handle either, that makes for great reading. Cassie's a great character for a number of reasons, one of which is that she's very self-aware. Her ability to laugh at and chastise herself provides a surprising amount of comic relief in a lot of situations that shouldn't be funny. Also, even though she's human, Cassie is absolutely not judgmental of the other races, as so many human heroines in paranormal series can be. As she points out, they're "her people" after so many years of living at the vampire court of one of Mircea's scions.

The secondary and even tertiary characters are fabulous as well. One thing Chance does to make the series especially fun is resurrecting personas from history.For instance, the real Casanova is running the Las Vegas casino where Cassie and Pritkin are currently attempting to hide out and research. Cassie grew up with Rafe - aka Raphael, the artist, and Christopher Marlowe is the Senate's spymaster. Each character is very much his or her own person, with very different quirks and senses of humor.

It has to be said that Cassie's comings and goings in other times is a bit confusing. Probably those of you out there who prefer time travel books won't get as confused, but there were times when this particular reader was kinda lost. Also, it is important to have read the rest of the series. Chance rehashes who most of the characters are, but there are references to occurrences from the other books that make the reading experience much richer.

As far as supernatural and paranormal series go, this is one of the best. As for the romance element, it's always left pretty unglued, but I think it rocks. Despite what's been said here, it's not necessarily a character-driven plot, either; those of you who need a thrill are sure to get one.

Cassie, Pritkin, and the crew rarely give you a chance to catch you breath. Cassie will never fail to surprise you, and all of the other people in her rather hectic life will never fail to amuse.

--Sarrah Knight


@ Please tell us what you think! back Back Home