The Game of Triumphs (Black Apple) by Laura Powell

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The Game of Triumphs (Black Apple) by Laura Powell

Category: Teens
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: In a card game of global significance, a young teenage girl finds her own reasons for unwillingly joining in. The book soon becomes more of a generic fantasy, and suffers from too many awkward patches to be the rollicking adventure it wishes.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 320 Date: March 2009
Publisher: Orchard
ISBN: 978-1408302361

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Cat, a young teenager-about-London, has stumbled upon a Masonic group that seem to be beholden to the rules of an all-encompassing game based on the actions, combinations and effects of cards in the Tarot deck, and their own ability to move from this world to a parallel one as near to ours as one side of a card is to the other. Very reluctantly, Cat explores and finds this is a lot more than just some dungeons and dragons concept. She soon gets further involved, and has no idea of how far this game will take her – or indeed where her story's connection with the game actually began…

The opening chapters of the exploration are very strong, as the main players get discovered, the intrigue with which they play out in the real world is revealed, and we are teased with what it might mean for Cat to become a player. Unfortunately there is a slackening of this, and things get diluted with a boy at a similar stage in the game as Cat – Toby, and she doesn't seem to be as under the control of the game or the other players as might at first appear.

Still, with one effect of the game having such an important bearing on her life, she is compelled to carry on. As are we, for there remains a mystery strong enough behind this book to make it worth investigation throughout. Towards the end the cards and their meanings have less to do with the story than the world-shifting side of things, and a lesser writer would have made this transition from spookiness to much more standard fantasy a lot less engaging.

At the same time the book remained flawed. Some sections of exposition about the game needed to be read more than once, and at times some of the descriptions needed much more clarity. To take one minor instance to illustrate – a secret staircase was revealed, but it took half a page to be told whether it led up or down. Too much of the book carried an awkward edge to it.

There are still plenty of reasons to buy or borrow this book. The whole idea of the game certainly has legs, and is a very nice concept finely put across at times. The characters, that do not remain solely with Cat, Toby and the current game controllers, are very nice, and the balance of general life, game-playing life, and other-world life has a lot of good touches. I'll take the fact that one just could not predict the plot or the ending from the pacing of the book and what had gone before as a merit, this time.

I would have preferred the game to take over Cat, rather than have her what at first appears a harmless subsidiary within it, however. That way I would have been taken over a lot more successfully too.

We at the Bookbag must thank Orchard Books for our review copy.

Other teens becoming wrapped in otherworldly hobbies can be found in Malice by Chris Wooding.

Buy The Game of Triumphs (Black Apple) by Laura Powell at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Game of Triumphs (Black Apple) by Laura Powell at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy The Game of Triumphs (Black Apple) by Laura Powell at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Game of Triumphs (Black Apple) by Laura Powell at Amazon.com.


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