Recommendation: Cassandra Palmer Extended Universe

My “what I read” segments are short book (or series) recommendations based on the books I enjoy. They generally aren’t designed to be a detailed review — you get a basic summary of what the book / series is about, and why I like it.

The CPEU

As far as I know, the “Cassandra Palmer Extended Universe” isn’t part of the official lexicon, but it should be. This recommendation is really for two series that take place in the same universe: the Cassandra Palmer series and the Dorina Basarab series (a spin off). Both are written by Karen Chance and are accompanied by a series of fun novellas in addition to the main novels.

The CPEU is an urban fantasy universe with many of the supernatural creatures you’ll be familiar: mages, vampires, dhampirs, demons, gods, etc. Each of these get’s a Karen Chance treatment, being familiar, but with added depth unique to this universe. Each series has a slightly different flavor, based on the main character it follows. What’s interesting is both series occur in parallel and chart the same larger story arc from different points of view, revealing different events that have impact across the series.

Cassandra Palmer

The Cassandra Palmer series follows Cassy (Palmer), a fugitive clairvoyant who unwittingly finds herself promoted to Pythia — who amongst other things is charged with protecting the timelines from interference. Cassy is a chaotic character. Most of the time she has little idea of what she’s doing and survives through plucky courage, help from her friends, and an inordinate amount of luck. She’s amusing, as is the cast of unlikely allies she surrounds herself with. The action in these books is non-stop — seriously, the pacing does not let up. Cassy bounces through time, though dimensions, and through space, trying not to get killed and to make everyone else take her seriously. I’ve had enormous fun reading these books.

Dorina Basarab

Dorina is a spin-off character from the main Cassandra Palmer series who now has her own set of books. She’s a dhampir, half-human half-vampire, and the child of one of the support characters in the Cassy series. Dorina shows up a few times in the Cassy series, but most of the time doesn’t play a significant role. In the Dorina series we get to know her (she kicks butt) and discover she has a critical role to play in the broader meta-story. There aren’t as many books out (yet) in the Dorina series, but I’ve come to enjoy them more than the Cassy series. Cassy is fun, but Dorina is amazing. In the CPEU, dhampirs all go homicidally insane as they reach adulthood. In defiance of this, Dorina is centuries old (you could argue she’s actually quite homicidal, but only a little insane). She’s feared, reviled, and hated, but it doesn’t slow her down. As good as this series is, I do recommend reading some of the Cassy books first, as they might give you a better intro to the world.

Both of the series currently in the CPEU bring us familiar urban fantasy tropes, but they do it well — engaging characters, unique interpretations, and fun story-lines, all wrapped up in polished writing.

If you want to jump into either series, I’ve included links below:

Cassandra Palmer Series Book One: Touch the Dark

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Dorina Basarab Series Book One: Midnight’s Daughter

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