The Master of Misrule by Laura Powell

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The Master of Misrule by Laura Powell

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: A great way to close the set of two books - if that is what it is - with strong fantasy, helped by brilliant ways with characters, place and plotting.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 384 Date: February 2010
Publisher: Orchard
ISBN: 978-1408302378

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In the Arcanum, fortunes could be won and lost. The bizarre otherworld, just the slightest shift away from our own, had been home to a life-altering game of chance, power and intelligence, based on the tarot. Four teenaged Londoners had been witness to this, then players. But they'd found it wanting, and to level the playing field, had thrown out the rulebook. With that, however, the referee is no more, and the Lord of Misrule is in charge. Free, too, to smother all of Britain with his unique brand of scratch-card lottery. Soon all humanity might be out of luck.

I suspected from the first book in this series - The Game of Triumphs - we could soon have a new star of teen fantasy on our hands. I couldn't have guessed how soon, and that Laura Powell would hit these heights at the second time of asking. The reasons are manifold. Take the writing - we get a most vivid sight into both worlds, our London and the Arcanum. In particular the action scenes, and the foretelling of just what the heroes have got to redress, are realised superlatively.

Married to this is the pace. It's not at all possible to read this at one pace, for I found myself hurtling through the action, but also taken in hand to enjoy the character-based, thoughtful scenes - many of them, in flashback.

Those four characters are all flawed, but still in need of what they sought to win. They make a very dark quartet at the core of this series, even before the baddy they have to go against, seemingly without hope. But also what I found to cherish was the style of fantasy they entered. There are mythical labyrinths, women in threes spinning thread, but around them are dreamscapes, or perfectly recognisable scenes the reader will recognise - the Christmas soiree, the multistorey carpark at night.

All this is supposed to be a hairsbreadth, a coin-toss, from our London, and it feels like it at all times. I don't think Powell puts a foot wrong in this.

If she ever struggles, it is with the more typical quest side of things, where she splits her group up to face their own paths, which cues alternative chapters and something of a loss in the magic we'd been experiencing before then. However that also allows her to break from the one character's conflict/resolution, the next character's conflict/resolution etc... pattern so brilliantly in gearing us all up to the conclusion.

Fans of the first book will simply need to carry the series on here - to the original's benefit it never read like a book that was gunning towards a sequel, but here backstory for Cat's friends is filled in in a big way. It's also a marked improvement from something well worth investigating in the first place, and points this out as well worth the investment. As a strong example of teen fantasy, never trying to be gory, unrealistic, or too Hollywood, this comes with a strong recommendation.

I must thank the kind Orchard Books people for my review copy.

A smaller town full of the odd, as opposed to the Arcanum's London, can be met in Nearly Departed by Rook Hastings.

Buy The Master of Misrule by Laura Powell at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Master of Misrule by Laura Powell at

Buy The Master of Misrule by Laura Powell at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Master of Misrule by Laura Powell at


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