Claimed by Shadow

Karen Chance
2007, Urban Fantasy
Roc, $7.99, 374 pages, Amazon ASIN 0451461525
Part of a series

Grade: B-
Sensuality: Hot

Claimed by Shadow is the second book in Chanceís Cassandra Palmer series. Cassie is a powerful, unique heroine who has more than her share of talents. She hunts murderers, communes with ghosts, travels through time, possesses vampires, and much more in a series chock-full of all kinds of supernatural powers and beings.

Cassie is a clairvoyant who just received a new title and power. She is the new Pythia, almost. Itís a there-is-only-one kind of job that means she has the power to go back in time to correct wrongs and protect the timeline from those who would use it for their own purposes. She received the power from the previous Pythia, who recently died. Cassie, however, doesnít want the job, so she resists accepting the full power. Sex is the ritual act that will complete the transfer. But since the power has already partially come to her, she finds it unpredictable and hard to control without the ritual being performed. The power pushes her towards completing the ritual, so Cassie finds herself attracted to all kinds of men.

However, she quickly learns that she has another unwanted power floating around her. A vampire by the name of Mircea placed a geis on her when she was young, which flares up when any man but those he approves of make any advances towards her. It also works the other way, so that if she is sexually interested in someone and touches them, they both feel severe pain. With these two powers at odds, Cassie experiences a great deal of angst. Meanwhile, she tries to find the vampire mobster who raised her at his court, as well as the rogue Pythia initiate attempting to kill her.

This series is already going the way of many urban fantasy series, with a central heroine and many hunky guys to choose from. Cassie feels very attracted to Mircea, but that could all be attributed to the geis. She also still cares for another vampire, Tomas, who betrayed her in the previous book. Then there is a teasing attraction to an irritable war mage, Pritkin. Aside from these main characters, Cassie finds herself pulled towards other men due to the as-yet-uncompleted Pythia ritual. Because of all this, there really isnít much romance involved, let alone deep relationships. Sexual tension is the name of the game and it is often brought on by spells, so we canít be sure what is real and what is not.

Chance writes intelligently while building a great big world. There are many creatures and many powers to keep straight. The action is high and the pace constantly moving. So much goes on in this book, in fact, that readers may find it hard to keep track of it all. There is a story arc and a destination, but so much happens along the way - and in such an erratic manner - that it is easy to forget where the storyís going. The book also didn't stand on its own. I read the first installment not long ago and still had a hard time remembering what all the references to the first book meant.

A lot of unresolved issues remain at the end, but thatís typical with this type of series. Considering that problem development occurs at a much faster rate than problem solving, the series could continue for a long time. It was rather frustrating to come to the end of the second book and learn that a lot of the things I wanted answers for in the first were still outstanding, but Iím kind of hooked. Although there are several things that bother me about Claimed by Shadow, and perhaps the series in general, Iím curious to see which way it will go and will no doubt read the third installment to see what else happens. I probably would have given this book a more average grade had I not been so intrigued about whatís coming. The author has done a good job stringing me along and if you like urban fantasies, sheíll likely do the same for you.

-- Andi Davis

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