WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS. DO NOT READ UNLESS YOU DON’T MIND SPOILERS OR YOU HAVE ALREADY READ THE BOOK.
I’m back with another book review, and this time it’s The Game of Triumphs by Laura Powell, an urban fantasy genre sort of fiction. Here’s the summary of the book to let you know what it’s about:
“At an exclusive Soho party one rainy night, Cat stumbles into an ancient and dangerous game of fortune. A mysterious quartet of game masters deal out challenges—moves that unfold in the Arcanum, a dream-scape version of our world. Success can earn players fame, fortune, inspiration. Failure can be deadly.
At first Cat is skeptical, but undeniably curious. And when a journey into the Arcanum reveals a shocking glimpse of her family’s past, Cat begins to understand what drives people to play. Sometimes it’s greed or longing—other times desperation. She must know more.
Right now, the game masters hold all the cards. But Cat finds others like herself on the fringes of the game. And together an unlikely group of chancers hope to change the rules in their favor.
In the Game of Triumphs, the risks are high, but the rewards may just be worth dying for. . . .”
Good news: I liked the concept of the book. Using Tarot Cards of all things in fiction is not something I really hear of often, so I picked it up mainly for that reason. I have to warn all of you readers, however—not having a good knowledge of Tarot Cards before reading this book spells out immediate confusion for you. I recommend that you do some quick research about the tarot cards and their meanings before you read the book as it will be useful when it comes to understanding the cards and their meanings and such.
Okay. Bad news starts now. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED>
For the plotline…well, I feel like it was lacking some kind of ‘wow’ factor despite the concept it was going with with the tarot cards and the Game involved with them. The beginning of the plot was really slow, and continued to crawl ever so slowly throughout the book until BOOM! There was a super-abrupt cliffhanger ending. Even worse was that the plotline felt really disjointed and the sequences of events that happened in the book felt very random at times and all in all out of place. Ouch. To be honest, I also found it difficult to clearly understand all the concepts presented in the book such as the Game, etc, which sucked and I know it’s something that I’ve harped on about again and again (coughTicker but this time this is even worse than Tickercough). But when the explanation of concepts is this confusing, it’s really hard for me not to harp on about it unfortunately.
As for the characters, the main heroine Cat has her street smarts and bluntness as her tools to guide her at times, only able to be overpowered by her seemingly neverending curiosity. However, it’s cut short by the fact that she continually dismisses the tarot cards and the Game for quite a while despite evidence that this is not your average game played by fangirls and fanboys, however, so that’s definitely one annoying thing to me. Even when she finally started realizing that ‘hey, this stuff is actually real and not a joke‘ her realization did not feel believable. Whatever character development that was trying to be injected into her just didn’t feel convincing enough.
Toby was incredibly annoying and mostly used as an info-dumper for a good chunk of the book, which I was annoyed at. I know that he was trying to help Cat understand things, but he still could have been less annoying towards Cat, at least. Also, it was far more than obvious that he was a fanboy over the Game and in one particular scenario, when Cat is telling Toby about some horrific attack that she saw, his reaction went along the lines of this:
Toby: OH MY GOSH A FREAKING FIERY DUEL HAPPENED! THAT’S SO AWESOME!
And in turn, Cat has the far more normal reaction to this when one sees something terrifying:
Cat: SOMEBODY NEARLY DIED! I NEARLY DIED IN THE PROCESS OF ESCAPING! WHY ARE YOU FANBOY SCREAMING OVER IT!?
Flora seemed like one of those stereotypically posh, snobby rich girls that would put their noses up in the air whenever they passed by someone who didn’t dress as nice as them, which I didn’t like. Even with her tragic backstory of wanting to help her sister, she still didn’t feel so redeeming in any way, because it didn’t feel believable.
Blaine, not introduced until about halfway through the book or so, was lackluster for me. Maybe it was because he acted like a mean idiot most of the time and had little to no redeeming qualities to him, like Flora. If anything, I honestly thought he wasn’t really needed in this story. The way he was written makes me think that he didn’t really have any good use for the story other than an attempt to make it interesting but it still didn’t work for me even then.
I found that there were two flaws that Blaine, Cat, Toby and Flora had in common overall:
1.Their character backstories just didn’t feel realistic. I don’t know if it was because the Game played a part in screwing up their lives in the past and therefore made it feel out of place, but something about all of their backstories just seemed off. Something about them just didn’t feel real and believable enough for me to really feel anything for the characters.
2.They lacked development. None of them really had any development during the entire book. Flora stayed all posh, pretty and snobby, Toby was still fanboy-screaming over the Game and everything, Blaine was being rude repeatedly, and Cat just didn’t make any impact on me as a main character or as a character at all due to her obvious lack of development.
Overall, I have to give this book a solid 0 out of 5 stars, due to how slow and disjointed the plotline was, lack of character development, and really bad/lack of explanation of any concepts in the book. I would not recommend this to anyone, and I’m pretty sure this is my first time writing that in a book review too. Hopefully next book will be better, so I’m crossing my fingers for that!