cover image The Game of Triumphs

The Game of Triumphs

Laura Powell. Knopf, $16.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-375-86587-9

In this stylish, tarot-based tale, 15-year-old Cat lives with her loving but blunt aunt Bel, a croupier, who has cared for her since her parents' deaths and who frequently reminds her, "you'll always be an orphan... and don't you forget it. People like a bit of tragedy. Adds color." One day while wandering London's Soho, Cat witnesses a possible murder and, when she investigates further, discovers she has entered the complicated and ancient contest of the Arcanum, the Game of Triumphs, as a "chancer," an accidental player represented by the Fool of the tarot deck. Upon visiting the game's alternate universe, Cat learns that her parents were murdered as part of the contest and, with three other chancers who share personal vendettas against the game, she sets out to overthrow it. Debut author Powell's use of the tarot is fascinating, although perhaps unnecessarily complex. Cat, a skeptic and survivor, is nicely differentiated from her fellow questers%E2%80%94starry-eyed Toby, snooty Flora, and mysterious street rat Blaine%E2%80%94though the novel's villainous Kings and Queens don't achieve much depth. Ages 12%E2%80%93up. (Aug.)