The Cards of Chaos by AD Jansen

A girl plays a magical card game against the mysterious Jackal to win her life and freedom.

It’s clear from the start that this isn’t your usual fantasy. The setting appears to be Victorian-esque small town America, yet the unfortunate Cebina is being sent away as a sacrifice to the mysterious and powerful Jackal. As it develops, the basic story turns out rather like Beauty and the Beast or Bluebeard, but the fairy-tale atmosphere is underlaid with surprising depth.

This isn’t the sort of book you can read with your brain switched off. It’s intriguing, sometimes puzzling, but always interesting. On top of that, it’s beautifully written. I’d like to read it again before too long, which I don’t often do.

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