Alayna Williams
Rogue Oracle
Oracle, Book #2

Review brought to you by OBS staff member Verushka

Rogue Oracle picks up the threads of Tara and Cassie’s life with the Delphi Daughters. Pythia has begun training Cassie to take over as Pythia, that is, the head of the Delphi Daughters, while Tara, who still distrusts Pythia, stays to keep watch. It is Cassie’s decision to stay, to learn what she can and Tara is there to provide support and a counter-balance to the training she knows Cassie will receive. Tara meets Harry again, while freelancing as a profiler and is drawn into a genuinely creepy case involving old secret agents and Chernobyl. Williams takes a historical moment and weaves an unexpected, complex and riveting tale, fuelled most of all by Galen, the killer Tara and Harry are trying to catch. There is something unique about his method of killing people, but one I won’t reveal here – I will say that in those moments, I cringed because of how creeped out I was with Galen, and I mean that in a good way!

Old spies are missing, and Harry confused and frustrated with the way the case is going asks Tara for help. She agrees and so begins the case. The case itself is tightly drawn, tapping into the our current fear of terrorist attacks to heighten the tension. This lets Harry’s and Tara’s relationship develop further, for since Dark Oracle, Harry had left her behind with the Daughters and not returned. Now, we see how frustrated and jaded Harry has become and Williams gives a better picture of Harry in this book, than we got in the first one.

However, while Tara is investigating this, the Pythia puts Cassie through a harsh test of her own, resulting in Cassie fleeing, and Tara trying to find her. As much as the first book was about re-introudcing the Daughters to Tara’s life, this one highlights the downside of being part of them, of the Pythia’s teaching.

William’s characters, supporting especially, are strongly drawn and no words are wasted; everything means something, including the vivid descriptions of each time Tara’s uses her cards. Added to this, her power seems to have grown in this book into visions, and dreams, which while they are interesting to see where they take Tara, it is the book’s weakest link. The dreams continue for pages, describing everything in wonderful detail and what Tara gleans from them to help her, but soon enough they overpower the case and the human/normal balance that Williams expertly achieved in the first book.

Two things of consequence happen in this book, we see Tara reconnect with Harry, and her powers increase. The supporting cast of characters grows and while “the two Steve’s”, Cassie’s protectors in this book, serve as a obvious counterbalance to the female presence of the Daughters, Williams never strays – too much – into cliché territory.

I sincerely hope this series continues for Williams has built a fabulous world of interesting, emotionally complex characters that are a breath of fresh air in the current urban fantasy genre.