Review: Queen’s Gambit by Karen Chance

Posted January 8, 2021 by Sophia Rose in Audio Delight, Reviews / 14 Comments

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I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Queen’s Gambit by Karen Chance
Queen's Gambit
Narrated by Joyce Bean

One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

Series: Dorina Basarab #5
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Published by Tantor Audio
Released on October 20, 2020
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
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The Delight

Were you as curious as I was about Dory’s ‘twin’ hidden inside her?  Well, we finally get the answers and it is a rush.  Oh, and things get a lotta crazy, chaos happens in earth and faerie, and in the end the reveals were high impact.  I need, need, need the next installment pronto.


Queen’s Gambit is the fifth of the Dory Basarab series and the fifteenth book in the Cassie Palmer world.  Early on, the two series might have been able to be read quite separately, but lately, the series are two sides of the same coin so much be read as one.  Queen’s Gambit came right off the events of Shatter the Earth.  So, if you haven’t started at all, you’re in a good place to read both series as one and get the best out of them.

Queen’s Gambit opens with Dory and Louis-Cesare on a smoozing diplomatic job for the Consul in Egypt meeting with the Egyptian Consul.  Dory is anathema to the vamps and could care less, but then the party is unexpectedly crashed hard making bodies fly and suddenly Louis-Cesare is off chasing a gang of the party-crashers who turn out to be fey.  Dory can’t let him go without back up and chases after him with her second Ray Lu on a magic carpet ride through Cairo.  Then the unthinkable happens and Dory loses Dorina into a vortex along with Ray.
Wanting to go find her internal twin and feeling lost and off-kelter, Dory is stymied by Louis-Cesare getting over protective and an Egyptian Consul who has a huge problem that becomes hers.  She must find her twin and stop the fey who sacrifice anything to get her.

Meanwhile, Dorina and Ray can’t catch a break with a multitude of fey after them who want Dorina for some nefarious purpose.  For the first time ever, she is on her own in her own body.  She recalls the past and how things came about for Ray and then learns stunning secrets about herself- secrets that shake both earth and faerie.

Queen’s Gambit has both the feeling of a typical, exciting Dory book, but also something more.  It’s two stories in one with Dory narrating earth-side while Dorina catches up on her past and narrates while in faerie.  It was brilliantly done because the two have two distinct voices, actions, and mannerisms.  So much about the two halves of Dory/Dorina are explained through the past and finally getting mysterious explanations from others.  I felt this was necessary because of the way the author took the current plot.

I loved that Dory visited Egypt and the author incorporated ancient Egyptian myth and history into the story along with eastern vampire characters.  It was a delight to have so much Dory and Louis-Cesare time.  They were sizzling, but some long overdue communication happened between death-defying action scenes.  But, I also thought the building of friendship between Dorina and Ray was magical, too.  They are misfits who find a connection in shared danger and understanding.  It was non-romantic, but still special.

There is a whole segment of excitement and reveals in the last quarter that I won’t even touch on to prevent spoilers, but it does end on a surprising cliffhanger for the first time in the Dory series.  It wasn’t a huge one because things are in a good place to stop, but yes, there is a feeling that I need the next segment pronto.

Joyce Bean continues to narrate the series.  She had a varied cast to voice from two separate Dorys to Louis-Cesare to an international cast.  She keeps all the dazzle of the magical world, the intense action, and the emotions in balance so that the story feels tighter and not confusing.

All in all, this was layered with good emotion, character development, series development, and action.  So good.  And, there are always the most imaginative worldbuilding going on.  Those who enjoy action-driven urban fantasy should definitely reach for the Cassie Palmer world.

My thanks to Tantor Audio for the opportunity to listen to this book in exchange for an honest review.

Challenges Met

Mt. TBR #2
Audio #1
Romance BINGO #2 non US/UK setting

About the Book
Queen's Gambit by Karen ChanceQUEEN’S GAMBIT BY KAREN CHANCE

Dorina Basarab is a dhampir – the feared and hated cross between a vampire and a human – or so she has always believed. She spent most of her life on the fringes of her two worlds, yearning to belong to one or the other, but despised and distrusted by both. Recently, a war in the supernatural community allowed her to get a foothold into her vampire father’s world, one of danger, intrigue, glitz, and glamour, where she found not only a home, but a lover, too. For the first time in centuries, life seemed to be going her way. But now, an incident with a dangerous magical device has left her two natures separated into duplicate bodies, both fighting to survive while they search for the truth about their past and the key to their future.

Contains mature themes.

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I was born and raised near Sacramento, CA. I have read since I was four years old and developed tastes that run the gamut of literature. I went away to college and have a degree in education, a certificate in family history research, and a certificate in social work. I worked for a non-profit agency with low income families for 20 years which included being responsible for the children’s library and promoting/teaching adult literacy. I have lived in Southeast Michigan for the last 18 years and I am currently a book addicted homemaker with a cat and husband who keep me grounded. Recently, I made it a challenge to review each book that I have read as a favor to author friends who said reviews are important. I have done reviews for Good Reads, Amazon, eBay, and Smashwords, but mostly at Goodreads and Amazon.

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1 year ago

I’m always looking for a new UF to love so I’ll have to check out this series. I do remember Joyce Bean narrated the first few books of the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning and I thought her voice sounded a little old for the character. Wonder if that’s the case here. I’ll have to listen to a sample. Wonderful review, Sophia Rose! 🙂

Sophia Rose
1 year ago
Reply to  Rachel

Yes, definitely check these out. The Dory series starts after the third Cassie Palmer. They read together like the Mercy Thompson/Alpha & Omega series.
I started listening only a few books ago so I had to adjust from the way I imagined the voices would sound, but I’m all right with her work now.

Mary Kirkland
1 year ago

Yeah, I think I could see myself liking this.

Sophia Rose
1 year ago
Reply to  Mary Kirkland

I think you would love these, Mary. 🙂

Lover of Romance
1 year ago

Sometimes for certain types, I can see the way that cliffhangers can set plot aspects up for the next upcoming book. And I do appreciate a well layered emotion with the stories we read.

Sophia Rose
1 year ago

You caught what I was saying exactly. This story needed more time to spin out so needed another book.

1 year ago

I thought this was going to be about the Netflix show – about chess! Oops. I didn’t realize that the Cassie Palmer series was still going strong. Glad you are enjoying!

Sophia Rose
1 year ago
Reply to  Jen

Every time I searched for this one to do my posts and get the links that other book kept popping up. LOL
Yes, the Cassie Palmer world is still going strong. 🙂

Anne - Books of My Heart

I started the first book in this series maybe 8 years ago and couldn’t get into it. But maybe someday. It’s great to see it is still doing well so many books into the series.

Sophia Rose
1 year ago

Sometimes the writing is just not the right match. Yeah, there are quite a few books now in both series especially counting the short stories and novellas. 🙂

1 year ago

I seriously need to reread the first half of both these series and then catch up. I used to always be current but somewhere I fell behind and now I don’t know much of what’s up. I still remember most the characters by name, though. I’m so glad you enjoyed this one!

Sophia Rose
1 year ago
Reply to  Berls

I second that plan. These could get confusing fast if it has been a few years since you were in the series world- so much goes on. Whose you favorite character? I get a kick out of Ray, Dory’s friend, and Marco in Cassie’s books.

Carole Rae
1 year ago

 Egyptian myth and history? How fun!

Sophia Rose
1 year ago
Reply to  Carole Rae

Yes! I love how this author brings in mythology from other cultures. She pulls in Asian now and then, European, but now Egyptian. 🙂