2 out of 4 stars
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Black Cards is a fantasy novel written by D. Hurd. We follow the adventures of four young friends in their twenties – a modest but attractive schoolteacher named Tasha, a playful Asian thief called Allie, a dramatic blonde bombshell named Lesley, and an ex-Marine called Clive, who served in Afghanistan and Iraq. They find themselves transported to a mystical world full of fairies, elves, werewolves, dwarves, trolls, shapeshifters, and doppelgangers, among other out-of-this-world things.
Everything began with a myth one of Tasha’s students told her – the Myth of the Black Cards. According to it, if you paint the four queens of an ordinary deck of playing cards black, make a square with them on the floor, and sit in the middle of it while chanting, a portal to another world appears. The four friends tried it one night, and it (shockingly) worked! They soon found themselves in a dark forest, fighting to survive. The friends must find their way back to Earth, but they learn that they are meant to fulfill a prophecy and help save this magical world.
Starting with the positives, I thought that the book’s characters were relatable and likable. Their personalities and predicaments are nicely weaved and developed throughout the book. The plot is also solid. There’s a slight cliffhanger in the ending, paving the way to a possible sequel. Despite this, though, the plot gets well resolved, leaving no open-ended questions.
Above all, the magical elements were what I liked the most about the novel. As the story progresses, the four main characters have to merge with the magical world. I liked how Lesley, for instance, merges with Cora, a powerful witch whom Kaskar, an evil mage, tried to kill. Lesley learns how to access Cora’s thoughts, which were entwined with her own. I also appreciated how Allie bonded with a fairy named Holly.
What I disliked the most about the book was its slight normalization of sexual violence. There are several strong passages involving sexual harassment and abuse, and I felt that these instances were somewhat romanticized by the author. Prospective readers should also consider that there’s a fair share of profanity in the book.
In closing, I rate Black Cards 2 out of 4 stars. Unfortunately, I found more than ten editing mishaps in the book. Although they were not egregious, they were enough to warrant the removal of one star from the rating. The second star gets subtracted due to the negative aspect previously mentioned. Still, I would recommend it to fans of fantasy novels. Readers who are put off by sexual violence and profanity might not like it, though.
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