Tempt the Stars is the sixth installment in Karen Chance’s Cassie Palmer saga. Because it has been entirely too long since I read the first five, nor do I have past reviews available for reference, let me attempt to catch you up to speed on this:
Cassandra is an orphan who was raised by particularly unfriendly vampires. Tony, the head of the house, actually orchestrated the car crash which killed her parents, and has her father’s soul trapped in a paperweight which he keeps on his desk.
Fun fact: Cassie is a clairvoyant, which–for anybody who needs a freshening up on their terminology–means that she can see and interact with ghosts. But that isn’t all Cassie can do, as we are soon to discover.
Cassie runs away from Tony in her late teens and exists “on the run” for a few years before she goes back to Tony’s for a few more in a failed attempt at revenge. She lived with a null-witch–whose only real ability was to create a void of magic, etc., which basically allowed Cassie a safezone because all of Tony’s thugs’ searches and spells just zoomed right over and around the house as if it didn’t exist.
Now, do keep in mind that I’m recounting this years into reading this series with a ridiculous amount of literature having been read between each book and those and this one, so I’m probably going to either fuck up hardcore or leave things out–which is approximately the same thing as the former. So I’m doing my best here.
Anyway, so Cassie ends up involved with more vampires, but the game totally changes. She hooks up with Mircea, who is actually one of the most powerful Master vampires in the North American Senate, and Tony’s boss.
Moving forward, a prophesy ends up making Cassie an heir to the throne of Pythia, i.e. world’s chief clairvoyant and possessor of way more power than any one person ought to have. Thus she is now a serious target because there are an intolerable number of people who either want to recruit her or kill her, and she really doesn’t want to be either, nor does she dare use this new power she suddenly has but doesn’t know how to use.
Besides that, remember Mircea? Yeah. So apparently he put a geis on her, which is a super powerful spell which puts off any potential would-be suitor–i.e. a metaphysical claim. And Cassie’s just about had it with being ordered and jerked around. The majority of the third book actually revolves around her attempts to locate a book called the Codex Merlini, which contains the spell necessary to break the geis, but it also contains some other mega-powerful spells which would put the earth in Hardcore Danger.
Oh. Btw. There’s this super infuriating yet compelling (and strangely attractive, although not in anything resembling the traditional sense) war mage by the name of Pritkin comes into the mess, and he’s both guarding and training Cassie… or something like that. I mean, he is. But he also like, beats her ass into the ground “for her own good” (although it totally is) and has a habit of being an all-around obstinate ass.
For the record, Cassie does actually get elected Pythia–by the power of the title, not the people who seem to think they get to decide who gets the throne. The power picks the person it deems most worthy–although that in itself is a major shit show. She also has a show down with Apollo, the god in charge of her power who has apparently decided that she should die. She isn’t the one who bites the dust, btw.
Only then Moira, one of the initiates who was passed up for the throne–and was the favored one, which really causes her absolute hatred for Cassie, the scene stealer–decides to try to go back in time before Cassie was even born to kill her mother and completely change the timeline. Which, btw, is a really bad idea for more reasons than Cassie.
Cass kills her, too, although it’s no easy feat.
Oh. For the record? There’s a segment where Cassie and Pritkin end up switching bodies? And it’s actually kind of funny because she wakes up in his body with a raging boner. She also “manscapes” his body, hahaha. His displeasure was highly amusing.
So anyway. The last book ended at Cassie’s coronation, to which she wasn’t even invited because they hired a look-alike to take her place on account of all the death threats and shit that she’d been getting. Eeeexceept that Cassie had to get in because reasons, and she ends up, like, half dead and Pritkin–who, it turns out, is actually half-incubus (and the only one in history, which actually also makes him Merlin, fun fact)–has to save her by basically having sex with her, because it’s the only way he knows how to do a power transfer. Except that this means that Pritkin’s father shows up and takes the mage back to hell because apparently there was a deal between them.
At this point, Cassie is on the field in her birthday suit and Pritkin appears to blink out of existence, meanwhile Cassie has to kill a Spartoi–and I honestly do not remember enough to explain what the fuck that thing is except that it’s absurdly powerful and she killed it naked because she was pissed.
So now we’ve gotten to book 6! Yayyy!
Oi. I know.
Tempt the Stars is pretty much entirely focused on Cassie’s desperate attempt(s) to rescue Pritkin from his father in this particular hell. It’s not a “seven circles” situation as illustrated in Dante’s inferno. The real explanation is far too lengthy and complicated for this blog, plus it’s more interesting to read in Chance’s words, if I haven’t already completely eradicated any reason for you to actually go read this series from all the stupid spoilers. (Sorry.) But there is a lot I haven’t covered! In my defense. Which is weak, I know.
Cassie goes back in time to ask Laura, her childhood ghosty friend from Tony’s, where her parents are, and employs the aid of the ghost she can’t get rid of. She then shifts back in time to about a week and a half or two weeks previous, before Pritkin was gone, and takes him further back in time to when her parents were alive and living in Tony’s guest cottage when she was an infant. That, by the way, is a complete shit show. But her mom does actually give her the information that she needs in order to retrieve Pritkin.
Long story short, Cassie gets help from one willing and one unwilling person(s) and the group make the trip to Rosier’s (Pritkin’s father) court, where chaos ensues, but they manage to acquire Pritkin. But they don’t save him, because Cassie inadvertently ends up linking them back to Earth instead of the Shadowlands, and the demon counsel’s guards follow them into the fucking hotel in which she lives. They get a meeting set up with the aforementioned counsel, who keeps Pritkin, and eventually she gets summoned for their meeting. I’m skipping over a lot of other mayhem, by the way. This is why you should read these books. They are constant mayhem and tension and infuriating bickering between characters. But they’re so brilliantly written, good God.
The end of this novel is so enormously infuriating that I seriously don’t know that I have ever been so mad at a book in my entire life. This doesn’t mean it was a bad ending. Oh no. Just infuriating. Because I’m so emotionally/psychologically invested and caught up in this series that it’s hard for me not to get emotional about them–and knowing me (although you don’t) that’s really a big deal. The counsel kills Pritkin. Cassie basically tries to become a martyr, although the same counsel that killed Pritkin saved her, and then gave her the tool to save Pritkin as well as the only person who could help her accomplish the task: Rosier.
Do you understand yet why I’m so bloody mad? Probably not. But it was maddening and I’m still sorta steaming, honestly.
That, friends, is the sign of a good book. That, right there, when a piece of literature has the power over a person to so affect their psychology that they are caught up for extended periods of time post-closure–although that fucking cliffhanger was not a closure.
I gave it five stars on GoodReads because it was fucking fantastic. The romantic tension is sparse in this one, but tactfully placed, and beautifully executed. The dialogue is just as perfect as it always is, and the descriptions are elegant and precise. If there were ever a series that I would recommend fantasy-lovers to read, it would be this one.
Until next time,