Juno Books

DARK ORACLE by Alayna Williams

Dark Oracle

"A compelling story with an intelligent heroine and a fast-moving plot pitting intuition against conspiracy, crime, and dark science." -- Linda Robertson, author of Hallowed Circle

June 2010
Mass Market Paperback
336 pages | $7.99
ISBN: 9781439167656

On Simon&Schuster.com


As a criminal profiler, Tara used science and her intuitive skill at Tarot card divination to track down the dangerous and depraved, including the serial killer who left her scarred from head to toe. Since that savage attack, Tara has been a recluse. But now an ancient secret society known as Delphi's Daughters has asked for her help in locating missing scientist Lowell Magnusson. And Tara, armed with her Tarot deck, her .38, and a stack of misgivings, agrees to try.

Tara immediately senses there is far more at stake than one man's life. At his government lab in the New Mexico desert, Magnusson had developed groundbreaking technology with terrifying potential. Working alongside the brusque but charismatic agent Harry Li, Tara discovers that Magnusson's daughter, Cassie, has knowledge that makes her a target too. The more Tara sees into the future, the more there is to fear. She knows she has to protect Cassie. But there may be no way to protect herself--from the enemies circling around her, or from the long-buried powers stirring to life within....

First of a Series!

Reviews of Dark Oracle:

"DARK ORACLE is a scientific, paranormal read that takes readers on a wild chase. A subtle romance lends to the entertainment this read offers. Tara is a strong female who has many stories till waiting to be told. An interesting new series that is not quite like anything else! (4 stars)" -RT Book Reviews

"Dark Oracle is a lot of fun...One thing I enjoy about Bickle/Williams is that her protagonists do not conform to the brittle, mouthy urban fantasy stereotype that I find so irritating. They have real problems, and not all of their issues are provoked by their tendency to run off at the mouth. Also, Bickle/Williams (a criminologist) is obviously knowledgeable about law and criminal enforcement, so her stories ring more true than many urban fantasy narratives. Her cops worry about the chain of evidence and warrants and not looking like an idiot in the media...I find this satisfying."--Elizabeth Bear, Realms of Fantasy Magazine (December, 2010)

"Dark Oracle is a novel filled with exquisite descriptions and rich detail that put you right in the middle of everything. While reading you feel as though you have been transported directly to the scene.... Mystery, corruption, science, magick, even a little romance...it's all here in Dark Oracle. It is a richly detailed book full of characters you'll want more of. Totally unique."--Fangtastic

"If you are looking for an urban fantasy that is jam-packed with spin-chilling mystery from start to finish, then DARK ORACLE is just the book for you. The main focal point of the plot revolved around Tarot cards - there were no werewolves, vampires or God-like beings; yet, there still was a paranormal element presence. Readers, I must warn you that DARK ORACLE is an introductory novel to author Alayna Williams' new series, and it ends on a cliffhanger note with more exciting episodes to come...I found DARK ORACLE to be an enjoyable sci-fi, urban fantasy read."--Romance Junkies(4/5)

"The exciting Dark Oracle draws the reader in from its first page description of the remnants of a scientific site explosion, setting the scene for the events to follow... elements combine to create a thrilling cat and mouse game characterized by wonderful pacing and sustained suspense. The villains of the piece are revealed early on, but the unknown fate of the man being searched for keeps the reader guessing throughout the book. Williams excels at depicting a world of both shadowy magic and dark science, and her skillful characterization of both primary and secondary players adds breadth to the narrative. An unusual and atypical backdrop for the story sets this novel apart from the herd in the urban fantasy field, earning the author extra points. This reviewer fears that the sequel to this excellent and intriguing novel will be much too long in arriving."--Bitten By Books (Five stars)

"Tarot, quantum physics, mines, botany, geology, divination, serial killers...if any of these interest you, purchasing Dark Oracle would be wise. A mix of The X-Files and Alex Kava's Maggie O'Dell series, this novel has enlivened urban fantasy with a smack of science that grounds the story with realism. Plus, there are definite wow moments - the climax features a character who truly is one with the earth, in jaw-dropping imagery."--Tez Says Review
[Also: DARK ORACLE was #2 in Tez's list of TOP 5 GREAT DEBUTS.]

"I love this book. The mix of tarot and profiling is very well written and Williams sure knows her tarot too I can tell you. The story is suspenseful and compelling with rich and vivid descriptions and even though Williams uses various viewpoints this didn't distract me from the story as sometimes happens, but instead it felt right as it gave me extra insight in the story that made it come even more alive... Tara is a character you can really care about and I was happy to see her grow throughout the story... Anyone with an interest in tarot will love this book as well as anyone who likes a decent Urban Fantasy story that doesn't focus on creatures, but more on personal magic powers."--Pearls Cast

FOUR STARS! The author has done an exceptional job of explaining the complex Tarot methods in easy to understand ways. Even though I know only a little about Tarot cards, I had absolutely no trouble understanding everything. However, due to each card's multiple meanings, in addition to the meaning of each card's placement within a pattern, the divination scenes are very long winded. Necessary, I understand, but still tedious. The characters' developments are well done, the plot is solid, and I felt an underlining tension throughout the entire story. These made the pages seem to fly by for me. I stayed awake much longer than I should have, but Tara's mysterious background kept me enthralled. I wanted to know more - now, now, now! Other than having to read slowly during the long divinations, I found this story to be fantastic.--Huntress Reviews

"Alayna Williams creates a compelling heroine in clever, intuitive Tara. Harry is a likable character, too, and their relationship -- conflicts and all -- is touching and realistic. Williams also peoples her novel with memorable secondary characters, from the scientist's daughter Cassie to Harry's awesome mentor to the Pythia, head of the Daughters of Delphi. (Not to even mention the dog and cat.) The plot is suspenseful, the descriptions vivid and often just plain gorgeous, and all the elements add up to a perfect escapist read for summer. I found it impossible to put down; I'm usually reading three or four books at once, but this was the book for several days running."--Fantasy Literature

"Tara is a fantastic urban fantasy heroine. She is flawed and has her fears, but as the novel progresses, the reader really gets to see her grow and slowly strip away her fears. They're still there, but she realizes that she can continue to live her life with them instead of holing up in the woods. I really enjoyed that she was self-conscious of her scars, but not to the point that it completely got in the way of more intimate situations. Harry was a nice foil to Tara. He tried to understand both her past and her divination, and I think he was really good for her. Cassie, Magnusson's daughter, was very strong considering the situation she found herself in. Maggie, Cassie's dog, offered a chuckle here and there within the action."--Urban Fantasy Reader

"DARK ORACLE is a unique book to read and one that will leave you breathless as you try to see what happens next amid all the twists and turns within the pages. Ms. Williams delivers a stunning debut and one that will haunt you after the last page is read. If you enjoy a new sort of urban fantasy to enjoy, then grab DARK ORACLE."--Love, Romances, & More

"...Alayna Williams introduces us to a world where the occult meet science and anything is possible. Dark Oracle is a fast-paced. action-packed, character driven story that got me gripping at the edge of my seat from start to finish. Evil plots meet scientific experiments and the supernatural in a great adventure. Even though I love my Shifters and will always be a Vamp fan girl, It's great to encounter an Urban Fantasy novel / series that stray from that beaten path and gives something new to read about. Alayna Williams has definitely accomplished that in spades and I recommend Dark Oracle to any Urban Fantasy lover out there."--Bookish Life (4 stars)

"I thoroughly enjoyed DARK ORACLE. While it initially seemed to be the second in a series, Tara's back-story is slowly revealed and the novel is self-contained. Tara is a fully realized character, and her inner growth as well as the way her relationship develops with Harry has an emotional depth that is completely believable. The mix of science and special abilities is a different combination from other urban fantasies. I know little about the Tarot, but the author (AKA Laura Bickle) treated Tara's readings with a delicate touch, letting the reader understand why Tara interpreted the cards the way she did, as well as giving enough of a description of the illustrations that the reader could come to their own conclusions. I highly recommend DARK ORACLE..."--Fresh Fiction Reviews

"A stunning collaboration of science and fantasy, DARK ORACLE is an unusual high stakes ride of government cover ups and mythological magic. While one would expect the blend to be jarring, its actually quite seamless making the novel interesting from beginning to end. Embodying a rich epic feel, Tara and Harry traverse dozens of obstacles not only in search of the truth but also within their own inner obstacles allowing vast and blatant character growth. However, with the secondary love plot playing such a dynamic role in Tara's healing, I would have liked to have seen more chemistry, more sexual tension. It would have pushed this book from good to stellar. But the research is still phenomenal in both the science and magical aspects. DARK ORACLE has all the makings of a good series start. For Urban Fantasy readers wanting to jump on an up and coming thrill ride, hail a ticket fast and get ready to hang on!"--Lovin' Me Some Romance

"...Williams does a good job of keeping this urban fantasy moving along at a rapid clip. Tara and Li have an interesting chemistry, which adds a positive element to the story. With enough twists and turns to keep you guessing and enough action to keep the pages turning, Dark Oracle doesn't disappoint."--Book Fetish

"I was delighted to find that the entire story captured my attention and held it. It kept me on my toes, turning pages, wanting to find out what happened next. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, start to finish. It contained action, mystery, mysticism, drama, romance and Tarot (as well as other divination methods)...When I finished the book, I wanted more." -- Tarot Dame

"...I've been delighted to find it's a great read. The two threads woven through out of the intuitive arts (Tarot, for example) and hard science (quantum theory, I believe it is) I found especially enjoyable... As a Tarot reader, writer, teacher, and designer I can support her views on The Tarot...However, this book is above all a highly entertaining and intriguing mystery about a scientist who disappears while working on new technology that has possibly terrifying potential. I was intrigued and curious, concerned and delighted, start to finish. I was quite honestly briefly sad when this terrific ride was over!... But I'll again emphasize that "Dark Oracle" is most of all an excellent mystery book. I've had the thought that in the future this old lady will be able to say "Oh yes, I read her first book and even back then it was quite obvious that she is a skilled imaginative writer." Highly recommended read whether you are left brain dominant or a Tarot fan, or neither." Roswila's Tarot Gallery

"I started reading this book with some trepidation, I have always associated the use of Tarot cards with the use of dark or evil powers. Williams' use of the cards to assist in the investigation was well done and has changed my opinion regarding the use of tarot cards. The novel was an intriguing read as the story followed both the mystery of the missing scientist and the path of Tara as she came to terms with what happened to her. I found the main character sympathetic without being weak, always a difficult balance to be achieved by an author."--Novel Reaction (4 stars)

"Criminal Minds meets Richard Condon meets Medium. It definitely did not read like a typical UF, and sometimes it did get bogged down in the extreme divination interpretation details, but surprisingly I liked it. I also enjoyed the fact that I didn't have to shoot Stephen Hawking a tweet to understand the mind blowing scientific end of it."--Bloody's Revenge

"Tara can hold her own in a fight and has a dark past that forces her to keep everyone else at an arm's length, yet she opens up to a possibility of a romance. Since her magic actually depends on her being open to the world, she also possesses a softer, more intuitive side, which sets her apart somewhat from typical urban fantasy heroines."--Curled Up With A Good Book (4 stars)

About the Author

Alayna Williams has an MA in sociology-criminology (research interests: fear of crime and victimology) and a BA in criminology. She has worked in and around criminal justice since 1997. Although she does read Tarot cards, she's never used them in criminal profiling or to locate lost scientists. She recently took up astronomy, but for the most part her primary role in studying constellations and dark matter is to follow her amateur astronomer-husband around central Ohio toting the telescope tripod and various lenses. Like the Pythia in Dark Oracle, she's been known to belly dance. Unlike the Pythia she'd never consider herself a professional.

"Alayna" is also known as Laura Bickle, the author of Embers from Pocket Juno.

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