BEA'S BOOK NOOK "I can't imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once." C. S. Lewis “If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.” ― Oscar Wilde

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Review: Dark Oracle by Alayna Williams

Book Blurb: 

 As a criminal profiler, Tara used science and her intuitive skill at Tarot card divination to track down the dangerous and depraved, including the serial killer who left her scarred from head to toe. Since that savage attack, Tara has been a recluse. But now an ancient secret society known as Delphi’s Daughters has asked for her help in locating missing scientist Lowell Magnusson. And Tara, armed with her Tarot deck, her .38, and a stack of misgivings, agrees to try. 

Tara immediately senses there is far more at stake than one man’s life. At his government lab in the New Mexico desert, Magnusson had developed groundbreaking technology with terrifying potential. Working alongside the brusque but charismatic agent Harry Li, Tara discovers that Magnusson’s daughter, Cassie, has knowledge that makes her a target too. The more Tara sees into the future, the more there is to fear. She knows she has to protect Cassie. But there may be no way to protect herself—from the enemies circling around her, or from the long-buried powers stirring to life within. . . .

My Thoughts: As I first read this book I kept wondering why it was classified and marketed as Urban Fantasy. The book spine even calls it that. The book is primarily a mystery, with a little romance and some slight mystical aspects. However, as the story progressed more supernatural elements were gradually introduced. The lead character, Tara, is a practitioner of the Tarot cards. She uses them in her personal life, and, in her former career as an FBI profiler, she used the cards to help in her work. My problem is that it moslty felt like a mystery to me, with some mild supernatuiral elements. The readings are both on point yet vague (which I'm told is how they work in real life too). Tara doesn't actually "see" anything (despite what the blurb says), it's all vague forecastings that are wide open to interpretation. There's a fair amount of science in the book, but I never really felt as if I was reading an urban fantasy. I know that genres and sub-genres are wide open to interpretation, and that's a topic for another day. I just wanted to get that concern/question/comment out of the way. **Note: I am reviewing the second book in the series next week and I'll revisit the UF classification again in that review**

     In some respects the book reminded of Kay Hooper's Bishop: Special Crimes Unit series which are decidedly more UF yet are marketed and sold as mysteries. It's lighter than those stories and the writing not quite as tight but it feels like them nevertheless. 

     Despite (maybe because of?) the genre-confusion, the book is an original. It's mix of Taro cards, a mystical practice with a long history, and the cultish Delphi's Daughters, give this book a different spin. The Daughter's were intriguing and I look forward to reading more about them. One of the Daughters, Adrienne, passionately hates Tara. I never fully bought the explanation for that, it felt weak to me, but she was interesting and one of those people that you enjoy disliking. Another easy to dislike character is Tara's former partner at the FBI, Corvus. As the story went on I began to suspect what horror Corvus had perpetrated in the past. He is a lazy yet ambitious man who knows how to play the system and is content to ruin lives and stab people in the back to get what he wants.

     Many of the characters in the book are gray as opposed to all black (bad) or all white (good). Even Tara is not always likable though I empathize with her. I liked that Williams didn't take the easy way out but made her characters complex. Occasionally, things are predictable but overall, it's an imaginative, enjoyable story with some unusual elements.

Publisher:  Pocket Books                                                 Release date: May 25th, 2010

More info:  goodreads                                                      Series: #1 in the Oracle series 

This book was won in a contest at a blog and sent by the author.  


  1. Thanks so much for taking the time to read and review DARK ORACLE!

  2. You're welcome! I enjoyed it.

    Next week, I review the second book, "Rogue Oracle". I hope you'll come back for that too.


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