Today I have two posts for you as part of the blog tour for the Delphic Oracle Series. by Alayna Williams. This is the second, a review of ROGUE ORACLE and a guest post by the author. The first post, a review of DARK ORACLE, is here. This tour is hosted by Bewitching Book Tours. You can check out the rest of the stops here.
Title: Rogue Oracle
Author: Alayna Williams
Release Date: February 22, 2011
Publisher: Pocket Books
Source: Blog Tour
Series? Delphic Oracle #2
Delphic Oracle #1: Dark Oracle
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Thriller, Mystery
Page Count: 360
Rating: [3/5 stars]
THE MORE YOU KNOW ABOUT THE FUTURE, THE MORE THERE MAY BE TO FEAR.
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 relationship 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. . . (summary from goodreads)
THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR BOOK ONE, DARK ORACLE.
ROGUE ORACLE is the second book in the Delphic Oracle Series by Alayna Williams. It picks up a couple of months after the conclusion of DARK ORACLE. Mostly healed from the emotional wounds she suffered before the first book, Tara has returned to work as a profiler. She and Harry haven’t made much progress on their burgeoning relationship, and Tara’s main priority these days is protecting Cassie from the Pythia.
Tara is plunged right back into working for the government when Harry asks for help with a case. Tara’s not thrilled about being part of “The Little Shop of Horrors” again, but she is happy that she can try to do something for Harry. The case itself is intriguing — several ex Cold War intelligence operatives have gone missing. Their knowledge of uranium stockpiles is being sold, and there’s enough to lead to another Chernobyl.
There’s an interesting fusion of science and urban fantasy in ROGUE ORACLE. After reading it, I feel like I learned a lot about Chernobyl, and I liked that the author didn’t rely just on magic to flesh out her story. The bad guy in ROGUE ORACLE is a result of that blend of science and urban fantasy, and elements from both are used to catch him.
ROGUE ORACLE smooths out some of the rough spots I had with DARK ORACLE. The writing has matured. There’s not as many extraneous descriptions, and there’s less of a focus on the tarot card readings. As Tara relies on tarot cards to interpret events, they are a vital part. However, in the first book of the series, I felt like there was a lot of space devoted to describing each card and its significance. There isn’t as much of that in ROGUE ORACLE, yet the tarot cards remain just as important.
There are some scenes from Cassie’s viewpoint, which I really enjoyed. The scenes with Cassie and the Pythia expose more of the secret world of Delphi’s Daughters, and it’s a world I’d like to see even more of. There’s a moment near the end where I went, “Ohhh. That would be a big burden to handle.” Having characters that can see the future lets the reader consider if that future is set in stone, or if it can be changed. And if it can, should it be changed.
Yet again, there are some great characters in ROGUE ORACLE. My favorites this book were the Steves, a pair of federal marshals. They are quite the colorful duo, nicknamed the Kahuna and the Cowboy by Tara. They provide some comic relief, but they also shine in serious moments, and they help Cassie recover from a traumatic experience.
The main story of ROGUE ORACLE is tied up neatly at the end of the book. Currently, there isn’t a third book in the series, but I would like to read another.
Writing Destiny and Free Will
By Alayna Williams
There’s something odd about writing about free will and destiny. When I’m building a story, I’m conscious that my characters really shouldn’t have much free will. After all, I’m the gal behind the curtain, directing a story and pulling the strings of my characters. They do what I want them to do…most of the time.
Sometimes, they surprise me. I think I know where I want to take them, and they rebel. They deliberately ignore the destiny I’ve scribbled down for them in my outline and decide to go on a road trip without me. Sometimes those scenes work, and sometimes they don’t. Trying to keep my characters harnessed to complete their mission is somewhat like herding cats. If I can get them from point A in chapter one to point Z in the final chapter, I feel like I’ve got things under control.
Weird things happen when I’m writing about characters who are grappling with destiny and free will in the plot line. It’s as if my internal processes become part of the external product. I have the sense that my characters are critters on an ant farm who have just become aware of a human tapping on the glass, and they’re not happy about being trapped and manipulated.
Tara Sheridan is the heroine of my ORACLE books. She’s a criminal profiler who uses Tarot cards to solve crimes, and also a former member of a secret society of mystics, Delphi’s Daughters. Delphi’s Daughters work behind the scenes to nudge world events, for good or ill, and Tara wants out of the game. When she’s teamed with her skeptical partner, federal agent Harry Li, Tara is forced to figure out where destiny ends in her world and free will begins.
It was an exciting concept to play with. Do Tara’s cards tell of possibilities, or a fixed destiny that can’t be changed? Is free will an illusion, and Tara and Harry are simply pawns in a larger pattern? Can they break free and restore order to their world?
These are questions my characters ask each other. Some of the answers are not what they want to hear. But they are questions the characters have muttered to me as I’m shoving them along their adventures with pen and paper…and it was a lot of fun to show the readers that process.