By: Laura Powell
Publisher: Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: August 2011
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: August 2011
Fifteen-year-old Cat is a slightly-happy girl, who is sick to death of being caught on London’s Tube. All she wants to do is make it out of the crowd and back to the flat she shares with her eccentric Aunt Bel.
Cat lost her parents, and Bel has raised her since she was just a young child. Bel is a croupier at the local casino and is one of the most fun, entertaining people Cat has ever met. Bel followed a man to London in order to make her career get even better, which it does, as soon as they announce that Bel will become a pit boss.
Cat is more the quiet-type. She tends to shy away from people, choosing to get on the Tube and ride the rails around and around, using the time to think about life and not have to become a part of the other niches happening all around her. One evening, Cat is trying desperately to get out of the mad rush toward the escalators. She wants to get home and can’t stand the sweaty bodies that seem to be closing in on her from every side. The worst one? A heavily panting man right behind her who says some very odd words as he passes her by. This one man, this one odd meeting, will happen once again for Cat, and the location she ends up in is something she never expected.
When she sees a trio of angry looking people following the panting man, Cat heads off after them, suddenly thinking that they’re after the man and not in a good way. As Cat tries her best to discover where the man went, she stumbles into a room that is filled with four people. They call themselves, the King of Wands, the King of Swords, the Queen of Pentacles, and the Queen of Cups. Each one is a member of the Higher Arcana of the Tarot. Cat is speechless, she doesn’t quite understand what they’re talking about, and describes the man she’d seen running from a trio of angry pursuers.
The Arcana laugh and try to explain to Cat that she shouldn’t worry. All she did was get caught up in a silly, fun game. With that, they let Cat in on the secret, offering her an invitation from The Arcanum to join them at Temple House, Mercury Square, to become a member of the team.
Cat arrives and sees the most amazing gifts being given to the people who have succeeded in their particular missions. Some things seem supernatural, such as winning the power of the Devil, but Cat is beyond intrigued as to what she’s gotten herself into. As the four game masters explain the rules to Cat, she finds herself joining up and playing for her own gift. Whether people play for fame, fortune, romance, or inspiration, Cat plays for her own desires. But when she stumbles into a family secret within the Arcanum, Cat suddenly knows that this is not just a game. The risks are high, the rewards are great, and the rules are not in her favor.
By taking the tarot world and building a story around it, this author has put a fascinating adventure inside a still, little known "science" that many people believe in.
Quill Says: A truly fascinating book offering a look at the lengths people will go to get what they want…all wrapped up in a very 'cool' game.