C.T. Adams and Cathy Clamp fantsy book review Thrall: Touch of EvilTouch of Evil by C.T. Adams & Cathy Clamp

Touch of Evil (2006) is a mixed bag. There were aspects of it that I liked a great deal, and aspects that didn’t work for me.

First, the good: C.T. Adams and Cathy Clamp’s vampires and werewolves are different from the usual fare. The vampires in Touch of Evil are victims of a parasite and ruled by a hive mind; the werewolves are matriarchal and not tied to the lunar cycle.

Kate’s “Not Prey” status, which is a sort of vampire diplomatic immunity, may be the most interesting plot device in Touch of Evil. Being Not Prey affords Kate certain privileges, but all of them are lost if she exhibits any “prey” behaviors. This means that she can’t do what most of us would do in her shoes: run like hell. Watching Kate attempt to evade her enemies without appearing to “run” is nail-biting stuff.

In addition, I have to applaud Adams and Clamp for the climactic scene of Touch of Evil. This physical and psychic battle for Kate’s body and soul had me on the edge of my seat. It’s followed by several very moving scenes.

Touch of Evil is also a great example of how religion can be incorporated into a fantasy novel without being heavy-handed. Kate’s Catholicism is a source of comfort to her and provides meaningful symbolism to some scenes, but neither the character nor the authors ever get preachy.

Now, for what didn’t work:
First of all, there’s characterization. Kate, at times, feels too close to the “tough loner mouthy heroine” who has become just as ubiquitous in urban fantasy as the “farm boy with a great destiny” is in high fantasy. Another characterization problem involves Amanda, a secondary antagonist. Her backstory is that she was once Kate’s best friend, but she’s such an over-the-top harpy that I have trouble believing they were ever friends at all.

(Several of my favorite scenes involve Kate’s renovations on her loft building and her affection for two former pets. Part of this may be just that I’m a sucker for old buildings and cute fuzzy critters. But I think it’s also because these are rare glimpses into a Kate who really is an interesting character underneath all the urban-fantasy stereotypes. I want to see more of that Kate.)

There are numerous editing issues: random superfluous words, wrong homonyms, the number of years since Kate’s breakup suddenly changing from six to two. There’s an awkward “dream sequence” toward the beginning of the novel that gives the reader Kate’s whole life history in one big expository lump.

Touch of Evil is interesting, but uneven. Kudos to C.T. Adams and Cathy Clamp for the incredible suspense of the climax, though.

Published in 2006. Kate Reilly has a hard time trusting people. Six years ago, the love of her life turned her over to the vampire parasites who call themselves the Thrall. Katie survives the powerful bite of the master parasite only to discover that the Thrall’s venom, coupled with her own natural psychic ability, has transformed her. Now she is next in line to be the Thrall Queen–and each day might be her last as a human. Tom, a handsome firefighter, arouses all of Katie’s dormant senses, but her heart shies away. After Dylan’s betrayal, how can she trust any man—even a seemingly perfect and terribly sexy werewolf? Tom’s sincerity–and sex appeal–begins to wear down Katie’s defenses. But his increasingly insistent charm hides a potentially deadly secret: his werewolf pack is hiding the one person who can stop the Thrall from completing Katie’s transformation into Queen–and they won’t give her up.


  • Kelly Lasiter

    KELLY LASITER, with us since July 2008, is a mild-mannered academic administrative assistant by day, but at night she rules over a private empire of tottering bookshelves. Kelly is most fond of fantasy set in a historical setting (a la Jo Graham) or in a setting that echoes a real historical period (a la George RR Martin and Jacqueline Carey). She also enjoys urban fantasy and its close cousin, paranormal romance, though she believes these subgenres’ recent burst in popularity has resulted in an excess of dreck. She is a sucker for pretty prose (she majored in English, after all) and mythological themes.