February 24, 2011

Review: Rogue Oracle by Alayna Williams

Rogue Oracle
Author: Alayna Williams
Publisher: Pocket Books
Series: Oracle, Book 2
ISBN: 1439182817
Purchase Information:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

*Novel provided by the publisher

For more information please visit Alayna Williams's website.

Tara Sheridan is the best criminal profiler around - and the most unconventional. Trained as a forensic psychologist, Tara also specializes in Tarot card reading. But she doesn't need her divination skills to realize that the new assignment from her friend and sometime lover, Agent Harry Li, is a dangerous proposition in every way.

Former Cold War operatives, all linked to a top-secret operation tracking the disposal of nuclear weapons in Russia, are disappearing. There are no bodies, and no clues to their whereabouts. Harry suspects a conspiracy to sell arms to the highest bidder. The cards - and Tara's increasingly ominous dreams - suggest something darker. Even as Tara sorts through her feelings for Harry and her fractured relationships with the mysterious order known as Delphi's Daughters, a killer is growing more ruthless by the day. And a nightmare that began decades ago in Chernobyl will reach a terrifying endgame that not even Tara could have foreseen...
Who wouldn’t want to be able to decipher what the future may be bring? We do it everyday in the simplest of ways: flip a coin, ask a Magic Eight Ball, even look for signs to guide us in our daily routine. In Rouge Oracle, the second novel in the Oracle series by Alayna Williams, we are met with a protagonist that does just that. Equal parts mysticism and police procedural, this novel has something for everyone combining to make one thrilling Urban Fantasy novel that’s a can’t miss.

The unique premise of this novel is really what attracted my initial attention as I’ve always been fascinated by the Tarrot. But, what struck me most when I actually started to read the novel was the every accessible police procedural base underlying the story. It was definitely a bit of a surprise to find these two elements of the arcane and the mundane intertwining, but it made for an extremely intense story that was very relevant in today’s world. I also really enjoyed the throwback to past tragedies in the form of Chernobyl, something that I’ve only ever known the barest of facts about. Williams did a wonderful job of making this atrocity extremely real in a way that I had never experienced before through the eyes of her antagonist, The Chimera. These very real ties to the ‘real’ world were perfectly injected into the story to give it a life of its own making it accessible and eerily plausible.

The characters are likewise well developed and this being my first time reading this series, I was quite surprised to find myself easily drawn into their lives. They all have flaws, suspicions and uncertainties making them very three dimensional. Tara is interesting with a very distinctive insight into the world. As a Tarrort reader and forensic psychologist she marries these two very different professions, one grounded in science and the other in mysticism, in a very useful and profound way. Because of the insights she can gleam from the drawing of a card, her hunches and theories propel this story in directions that her mundane lover would not have dreamed possible. Harry Li, while ignorant of all things magical and more then a little skeptical, however, comes to trust Tara’s ability without question. The typical government agent, he’s thorough and disciplined and yet because of his time spent within the Special Projects division he’s beginning to loose himself in a world he doesn’t quite understand. The connection between these two characters is nice, but quite subtle. While you can tell the emotions they have for one another, it’s not really ever voiced and show in only the slightest of ways. I think this is one of the few points within the novel that could have been improved upon with more attention given to actually building this into something tangible. But, where the romance may have faltered, the sense of vengeance was more then present in the creepy development of the Chimera. However, while this character is without a doubt vile and contemptible, there is a wonderful sense of pain and loss about him. His need to feel a part of something is touching, making him understandable to a point. Yet, how he goes about ‘connecting’ to others is extremely disconcerting as he absorbs the thoughts and knowledge of those he assimilates into his being. And believe me, this assimilation is not a pretty picture!

Fast paced action with lots suspense is the norm in this novel as the characters race against time to stop the Chimera’s dastardly plan to share his pain with the world. This definitely keeps the story moving and the readers’ attention firmly rooted as the plot flows effortlessly from the mystical to the practical. The flowing writing style makes this a captivating read building a world and characters that leave you craving more. There are a lot of plot lines left open for future novels that show great promise of being just as intriguing as this one.

This is an utterly original novel that I couldn’t put down. I highly recommend this read to any lover of Urban Fantasy with a penchant for police procedurals. And if you're like me and are unfamiliar with this series, Rogue Oracle is a perfect stand alone novel that is easily accessible to all readers. However, I loved it so much, I will be going back and picking up the first novel in the series, Dark Oracle, and suggest other readers do the same! Believe me, this author is worth it.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Scars


samantha.1020 said...

I agree that this is a very original take on urban fantasy. I can't wait to read more by this author. Great review!

Alayna Williams said...

Thanks so much for taking the time to read and review ROGUE ORACLE! You made my day. I'm pleased that you enjoyed it. :-)