Wow, just wow!
I was given a free copy by the author in exchange for an honest review.
When I started this book, I wasn’t fully sure what to expect. I knew to expect a lot of adventure and a bit of mystery, but that was about it. That doesn’t even come close to describing this book.
First off, I absolutely love the cover. I have this love of playing cards, so I was immediately drawn in. When I found out that the plot was centered around said cards, I was intrigued and a bit excited.
In Aryk, Russia (c. 1830/40s), playing cards are illegal. Having one is punishable by death. But none of the children know why, and no adult will speak about it. Viktor Vassinov needs to know the reason. The question haunts him in his sleep. Literally. Teaming up with his blood brother, Romulus, they set our to find something called ‘The Silent Deal’, which will explain everything to them. And so begins a dangerous quest to learn the secrets of their town and its past. At the same time, the boys are being hunted.
The plot is delightfully complex, full of little mysteries until the very end. Some are answered, and some leave you needing to know the answer. There are twists and turns all throughout, and you can never predict what is going to happen. Personally, I am able to guess plot lines in books fairly often, but this time I was taken by complete surprise. At first you think you know the answer, and then you realize you were wrong. I found that I learned everything along with the characters, I wasn’t ahead of the story. It was a perfectly refreshing change. I know that I said that the plot was complex, but that really can’t describe it. It’s like a maze you could say, and its terribly exciting. As for the ending, I never saw it coming. Its completely unpredictable. Now it may sound as if the plot is confusing. It isn’t. In fact, the story line was very easy to follow.
At the beginning you are introduced to some very strange things about Aryk. For one, there is graffiti painted on walls, in a strange code, telling something about the cards. You also learn that the city is terrorized by the Masqueraiders, (I get it now! The usual spelling would be Masquerader, but these are the masked raiders! That’s neat.) cloaked people with faces obscured by masks, searching serfs for cards.
The characters were interesting. Viktor and Romulus are our two main characters. They are both very different people. Viktor grew up in the serf village, his family hardly having enough food. Romulus is very nearly a legend, the people saying he was raised by a Leshy in the forest surrounding Aryk.
Later we are introduced to a band of Gypsies, one of the few bands currently residing in Kasta Way. People don’t go to Kasta Way because it is dangerous (A.K.A. Full of Gypsies). But Viktor and Romulus go there for their quest. This band, composed of twin acrobats, a dancer, a musician, a fire juggler, and a boxer, play some key roles in the book. Oh, and I forgot the ‘actor’ who tags along with them. I quite like the Gypsies.
The Leopard. What can I say about him? An intriguing character to say the least. The Leopard, who no one ever sees, but who people fear.
We do get to see what some of the experiments in the castle are, but why they are there and what prupose they serve, are yet to be discovered.
A perfect blend of fast-paced action, adventure, and mystery, I can say that I am most definitely looking forward to the rest of the series.
Playing cards, dangerous men in Masquerade masks, a town full of mystery, a castle full of frightening experiments.
I would recommend this to most anybody looking for an exciting read.
The next book includes a suspicious circus. That just sounds exciting, doesn’t it?
I read and Reviewed the sequel.