Friday, 17 June 2011

Book Review: Dark Oracle by Alayna Williams

Title: Dark Oracle
Author: Alayna Williams
Release Date: 25 May 2010
Publisher: Pocket Books
Series: Book #1 in the Oracle series
Formats available: paperback, ebook
Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Author's Website, Amazon, Kindle store, Book Depository

Grade: 5 stars

Novellus perfectus!
Goodreads appetizer:

TARA SHERIDAN HAS A GIFT . . . AND IT ALMOST KILLED HER.

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: I read Dark Oracle a couple of months after I discovered Laura Bickle's (Alayna Williams' alter ego) writing style through Embers, so I knew what I was in for: a dark and gritty urban fantasy with metaphorical storytelling, but still Dark Oracle held quite a few surprises for me.

First of all even though I was expecting dark and gritty the heroine of Dark Oracle still astonished me: she is a deeply scarred and tortured young woman for whom my heart went out for. She survived such unimaginable horrors that the simple fact that she is still alive (even if living a very limited and recluse life) is proof to her strength and willpower. Tara barely survived a savage attack by a serial killer she was investigating and that near-death experience irrevocably changed her forever. She became insecure and is doubting everything. The meticulous and detailed portrayal of Tara's emotional state following that trauma makes her suffering tangible and so real that the reader cannot help but grieve for her.

I was in awe that despite her own personal demons when someone needs help Tara is there to uncover the truth, that despite all the trauma she went through she is still a strong and determined woman deep inside. She is a wonderful character, one the reader can only look up to and admire. The supporting characters were once again well developed and fleshed out in detail. My favourite (of course) was the hero, Agent Li, whose quiet and powerful support was like an invisible pillar next to Tara, and it is testimony to Alayna Williams' talent that a character who was only present through its memory/spirit still remained one of the most dominant and palpable presence through the story.

I was once again amazed at the depth and wide range of the research Alayna Williams had conducted: she researched dark matter, atom physics, particle science, divination, astronomy and other such extreme fields which not many people have any knowledge about, and then went on to explain the basics so masterfully that even though I had no prior knowledge of any of these fields I wasn't lost in the midst of all the information, and what is more I positively enjoyed the intellectual challenge it presented!

The ending and the culmination of the story was like the quiet after the storm. Peaceful and calm, but knowing it is only for a short while before the clouds gather once again. I can't wait to revisit Tara and Harry again, to see where their relationship is going and how Tara is coping with her past and accepting her present.

Verdict: Dark Oracle is like none of the other novels I have ever read. It is a unique blend of spiritual and scientific world: dark matter and physics are explored in detail alongside divination, prophecies and oracles. But somehow these two completely contradictory areas which couldn't be more different still form an organic whole, and with Alayna Williams' metaphorical and emotional writing the result is once again a thrilling, action packed yet emotionally deep urban fantasy novel. Dark Oracle is simply spellbinding!

Plot: 9/10
Characters: 10/10
Writing: 10/10
Ending: 9/10
Cover: 8/10

This review was originally posted on Book Lovers Inc.


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