Only the most recent posts pop up on the HOME page. For searchable lists of titles/series reviewed on this Blog, click on one of the Page Tabs above. On each Page, click on the series name to go directly to my review.

AUTHOR SEARCH lists all authors reviewed on this Blog. CREATURE SEARCH groups all of the titles/series by their creature types. The RATINGS page explains the violence, sensuality, and humor (V-S-H) ratings codes found at the beginning of each Blog review and groups all titles/series by their Ratings. The PLOT TYPES page explains the SMR-UF-CH-HIS codes found at the beginning of each Blog review and groups all titles/series by their plot types. On this Blog, when you see a title, an author's name, or a word or phrase in pink type, this is a link. Just click on the pink to go to more information about that topic.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Alayna Williams: DELPHIC ORACLE

Author: Alayna Williams 
Plot Type: Police Procedural with a Touch of the Paranormal
Ratings:  V4; A3½; H1
Publisher and Titles:
       Dark Oracle (2010)
       Rogue Oracle (2011)

     Although this series is labeled urban fantasy (UF), I see it more as a paranormal police procedural, even though the "procedures" are a bit unusual. In this world, there are no supernatural creatures, no immortal beings, and no alternate realities, although the villain in book 2 comes close to being...well, not exactly human in the strictest sense of the word. The heroine is Dr. Tara Sheridan, a criminal profiler and psychologist who bases her investigations on readings of her Tarot cards. Tara has close connections with Delphi's Daughters, a worldwide organization of women descended from the original Oracles of Delphi in ancient Greece. Headed by the Pythia, whose talent is manipulating and reading fire, the Daughters are able to use their oracle skills to make generalized predictions of future events and then wield their varied psychic powers to sway those events in a positive way ("positive" meaning the way the Daughters want things to go). Tara left Delphi's Daughters after her mother died of cancer. She blames the Pythia and other Daughters for not telling her of the seriousness of her mother's illness. Mom had been the designated second in command, so it was a blow to the order when Tara deserted them. Tara's conflict with the Daughters colors the action in both books.

     Tara has a dark history. Shortly before book 1 begins, she worked on a case in which she ultimately became the victim, suffering innumerable scars, both physical and emotional. She has left her government position with the Special Projects Division of the Department of Justice so that she can heal. In the meantime, she takes free-lance profiling jobs to make a living.

     In Dark Oracle, Tara is asked to help the Special Projects Division locate a physicist who has disappeared after an explosion at his isolated desert laboratory. Tara soon meets the man who will become the love interest for the series: Harry Li, also an investigator for Special Projects. Two other men play important roles in book 1: Richard Corvus, Tara's weaselly former partner, and the arrogant Major Gabriel from the Defense Intelligence Agency, who is in charge of the investigation. As Tara and Harry proceed with their investigation they soon learn that their superiors are not what they seem and that someone wants them dead. Also at risk is Cassie, daughter of the missing physicist.

     In Rogue Oracle, Tara has been living with the Daughters in order to keep Cassie under her protection. Harry turns up to ask for her help in investigating a puzzling case in which former Cold War intelligence operatives are disappearing, one by one, without a trace. The missing operatives are all linked to the disposal of nuclear weapons in Russia, and the investigation eventually turns into a search for a radioactive serial killer. Radiation, by the way, plays a part of the plots of both books.

     In both books, the author has tried for authenticity by providing an abundance of technical and scientific details. In book 1, the physicist has been working on dark energy and black holes. In book 2, the investigation involves the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Although I appreciate the accuracy, I admit that I sometimes felt overwhelmed by the profusion of complicated information.

     In both books, Tara reads her Tarot cards constantly. For every reading (and there are many of them), the analysis is explained comprehensively, card by card. If you are familiar with Tarot, this may be fine for you, but if, like me, you don't know anything about Tarot, you may get confusedtoo much Tarot info in the midst of trying to absorb the technical data and follow the plot. 

     The romance between Tara and Harry blows hot and cold. At first, he's leery of her card reading. He eventually calms down a bit and even encourages her, but then he disappears for months at a time. I thought that their relationship could have been expanded emotionally. Even by the end of book 2, their chemistry isn't very strongmore of a case that they are thrown together in book 1 and get together through proximity rather than through any emotional attachment. I look forward to that relationship growing stronger in the next book.

     Under the name of Laura Bickle, the author writes the excellent ANYA KALINCZYK series, which is true UF. That series is set in Detroit, with a kick-ass heroine and plenty of supernaturals. My kind of series! Click on the author's name or the series name above to go directly to my review of ANYA KALINCZYK .

1 comment:

  1. The author's web site is