I am unsure about how many people in the blogging world thrill as much as I do at the sight of a series with more than three books. This, of course, is limited to books that I really enjoyed one or two of first. I have seen debates which support either side of the argument. I find this a huge draw. I took tentative steps this time, however, because I have previously stumbled on to commitments I found hard to deliver on. I read one of them and then (and only then) did I go on a spree and downloaded the rest of the series. I intend to read/review the remaining three as well, but I decided to first review these.
This series is available to download on NetGalley till the 26th of Feb and I am linking the covers back to NetGalley
We are introduced to the interesting leading lady Xana Bard. She is relaxing in her house with two cats and two dogs when a car rams into her home. The man who emerges from the almost wreck is someone who will upend her currently serene life. The start was pleasant enough but only halfway into the narrative when you accept Xana’s ability to see more into the Tarot Cards she reads than what appears at the surface, things get interesting. The narrative style was sarcastic, humourous at the same time was not frivolous or superfluous. I say that because it is usually a thin line that divides the attributes when it comes to mysteries like these. The way she installs herself into this investigation was questionable, but she does question it multiple times, so that evened out the situation. The tale is short and action-packed, with something happening every few pages. We also get to meet Xana’s mother, who does add a whole other level to how the narrative is carried out. I immediately picked up the next book after setting this aside.
The man from the sort-of car accident: Thorne is now established in Xana’s house, and this gives credence to how Xana embroils herself in future cases. Although we do not meet her mother again in this one, she does break her foot. This in itself should not have been a big deal in the tale, but the author managed to make the whole sorry section into the funniest introspection. The case itself starts at the very beginning, and there is more seen in the cards this time than in the first instalment. The explanation of Card reading and the cards themselves are done in such a manner that you cannot resent the narrative tool used to progress the story.
Thorne is put to the case almost immediately, and Xana is a consultant. The case itself was not spectacular, but I loved the writing so much that I would read it all over again, I actually think this merits a full five stars for the entertainment it gave me. In alternating chapters, we see the making and unravelling of a very cold plot which begins because of emotions. The ending of that was a little abrupt, but later I felt like it suited the mood of the entire book. It did not have much to do with the main case except for minor cross-interactions but did not feel odd.
This third adventure had the most at stake for Xana and Thorne. They set out to help bring back a friend from a cult. A cult which no one usually leaves, alive. The ‘Goddess’ of the cult turns out to have connections to the crowd that Xana’s mother is part of. We are therefore given a return of the Mater with some unique, unexpected twists that actually added nuance to a previously caricatured villainous cold parent. It is the small bits like this in all the books of the series I have read so far that makes this entire thing feel enjoyable to read.
There is an outrageous undercover plot with Xana as the one going undercover. The preparations for going undercover were laid out in a lot of detail which kept me involved in it as well. Her role as ‘Sandy’ made me laugh despite the danger she was always in. I think it wrapped up a bit abruptly, but the heroes slunk away into the shadows without taking credit like in the previous cases. Once again, the cards helped Xana make up her mind, but she did not get carried away with it all.
In this series, you have to keep any scepticism at bay because otherwise, it will mar your experience with the storyline.
I read these as ARCs thanks to NetGalley and the publishers. Still, the review is entirely based on my own reading experience and my bias towards long series’ with a continuing personal storyline.