A stranger’s plea for help draws an orphaned teen into a most unusual game, in which life and death are the least of the prizes.
Cat has always been a loner, which plays nicely off her young and outgoing croupier aunt/guardian. But when she stumbles onto The Game, played with the major arcana of the Tarot in both the real world and a parallel plane, she finds secrets from her past waiting to draw her in. After a slow start with a bit too much exposition, however well integrated, adventure takes over. Cat reluctantly allies with three other “chancers” (bystanders drawn into the game but forbidden from making moves): geeky, eager Toby; classy, rich Flora; and tough guy Blaine—all of whom have something or someone they want from the game. Together they decide to take the whole thing down by releasing the Fool, an otherworldly power at the heart of the game. As they tread the narrow path between trust and secrets, friendship grows. By the end of the first of this duology, page-turning action and a showdown with the rulers of the four suits will leave readers breathless, if disappointed that the conclusion doesn’t resolve the mystery of Cat’s past.Original and engrossing; readers will definitely want to play. (Urban fantasy. 12 & up)