I had a great time reading Fury’s Kiss, third in the Dorina Basarab series by Karen Chance. Dory’s first book is Midnight‘s Daughter. I’m not quite sure how I’ve managed to go this long without reviewing any of Chance’s books on here. She’s best known for the Cassandra Palmer series, the first book of which is Touch the Dark, but I prefer the spin-off series following Dory. Both series are set in the same world, with many overlapping characters, but they can be read independently of each other.
One quibble I have about the world is that I never see people who aren’t players in the politicking and battling between the fae, mages, and vampires. It makes it easy to forget that not everyone is a vampire or a mage. Presumably some people must be, but they aren’t relevant if they don’t have super powers. That said, I think Chance does a great job of humanizing all the supernatural characters (or not, as the case may be, but their powers are never their defining feature).
There are a few big reasons I think Dory’s books work better. The first has to do with exposition. Although Cassie and Dory both have a lot of history, the minutiae of Dory’s isn’t immediately relevant. You need to know a few things about her right at the start: She’s a dhampir (child of a vampire and a human), which means she shouldn’t be allowed to live, because she periodically has psychotic episodes and kills lots of people. Random bits of Cassie’s life become relevant unexpectedly and make me feel like I’ve missed too much of the important stuff and frequently come across as deus ex machina-like.
Dory is also competent at her job, and I do like competence in a protagonist. Cassie’s incompetence isn’t completely her fault, but I find it annoying. I appreciate that Dory knows who she is and is fine with that; the books challenge her to grow, but she doesn’t waste time whining.
Thirdly, there is a lot of time travel in the Cassie books, and it gets very confusing. The scope of the world is big enough in both series without people jumping all over time. As something of a corollary, my main complaint with Chance’s writing is that the action scenes are too in-depth; they would work great in movies, but it’s hard to keep track of what is going on in the books when we have that many details all at once—especially when people are jumping all over time.
Lastly, I hate love triangles: the Cassie books have one, and the Dory ones don’t. Yes, I know that’s a matter of taste, but I will let you know if I ever read a love triangle that doesn’t immediately piss me off. It doesn’t matter how much I like the characters. Love triangles are a trope that almost always (there may be an exception to this, but I can’t think of any) read to me as overly blatant plot devices; I should have to work harder to figure out how the book is playing with me.
To focus on Fury’s Kiss itself, Dory has always accepted her insanity as part of what she is, but in this book, Chance challenged that, and I loved it. There were more fascinating bits of fae and vampire politics, and some interesting world and relationship (platonic, romantic, professional, and familial) revelations. We get a better sense of where, and with whom, Dory chooses to stand when push comes to shove. We get more of her history when it matters but without info-dumping. It’s a really satisfying read. Honestly, though reading the previous books would certainly give a better impression of what’s going on, I think it could be read alone and still be a strong book.