Karen Chance has a bunch of free fiction set in this universe, for anyone who wants to try her work. To avoid an overflow of backstory and spoilers for the series, I’d recommend “The Gauntlet” and “The Queen’s Witch“, which take place much earlier.
I’ve been thinking of writing about this series for a while, and even had my opening sentence written for months: “This series is Murphy’s law in action.” I can’t make serious use of that sentence now, though, because the latest book itself referenced Murphy’s law. So now it just feels kind of silly.
Anyway, this series begins with Touch the Dark. It follows Cassandra Palmer, a clairvoyant on the run from the vampire mobster who raised her. Except it turns out that she’s a candidate for a power she knows nothing about and can’t use (on purpose). Powerful people are going after her, either to control her, or kill her so the power goes to someone else. Because this power is kind of a big deal.
On the one hand, vampires, ew. On the other hand, this is a genuinely well written series despite the vampires.
First off, this series has time travel. So anyone who dislikes waiting to figure out what is going on–things don’t always happen to Cassie in the same order that they happen to everyone else, and she’s the POV character. For those of you who like complexity (or long chaotic action scenes), this series may be more appealing.
Note that this is one of my picks for Alpha male characters which are actually well done: Mircea’s controlling personality would grate if it weren’t so utterly useless. But despite all his power and his hundreds of years of experience, he can’t control her and he doesn’t always know what to do with the extent of her powers.
Cassie’s strong point isn’t combat, it’s coming up with inventive solutions to problems that no one else has the power set to address. So she needs people around her to do the actual fighting while she tries not to die, but they also need her to do the impossible for them. I like that there’s a power diversity, and characters are needed for different things.
I also enjoy when the main protagonist has a versatile power set, like Cassie does. Now she just needs to learn how to use it on purpose…
It’s also nice to see other delineations–the characters around Cassie are much better at the political thing than her, and much better at figuring out other people’s plans. But Cassie is good at figuring who to contact to find out what she needs to know and how to use her resources to find them. She’s much better at in-the-moment thinking, where she doesn’t have to worry about figuring people out–hence why she survives so many assassination attempts and battlefields. She just makes use of what she has to get herself out of the situation.
This series is on its sixth book now, Tempt the Stars, and even though there are icky vampires, it’s a lot of fun.