December 11, 2012

VBT Review: The Hands of Tarot, by SM Blooding

Author: S.M. Blooding
Title: The Hands of Tarot
Series: The Hands of Tarot
ISBN: 9781477600290
Publisher: Blooding Books (July 3rd 2012)
Disclaimer: Copy received for review

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    “She killed his father.

    She imprisoned and beat him.

    And now she thinks he’s her trophy.

    Synn El’Asim will do almost anything to prove her wrong. But he’s only proving her right.

    Queen Nix awakened his Mark of power and inducted him into the House of Wands. She knew what she was doing. The son of the two most powerful Families standing against her is the ultimate prize.

    What she didn’t take into consideration was that maybe he was too strong for her.


    But the Families aren’t. They’ve been weakened and it’ll take a lot more than one young man with a powerful Mark to take on the Hands of Tarot.”GoodReads’ blurb
I had two chances to pick up this title for review and so I thought some higher being might be trying to tell me something (I don’t usually get repeat request from several fronts!). So, I dug in for a little more information, because the blurb felt slightly confusing to me, and then I thought: “Well, if this doesn’t look like the kind of stuff I could love!”

So I gave in and became part of the review tour. I’m really, really glad I did, though I have to say one thing before going any further: The Hands of Tarot is one of those books that get a rating because of gut feeling (more on this later) and a different person, or even myself at a different moment, might not have enjoyed it as much.

Okay, on to the details.

The worldbuilding was really intriguing. It was perhaps the most confusing part, or at least the part that took me the longest to fully grasp, but it wasn’t because it was vague or anything: it was just that complex. Plus, I kept trying to see the Tarot relationship and coming up short, but... The thing is that this dark, rotten, twisted steampunk-ish world is very well thought out and very original. I enjoyed that aspect, if only because it stepped away from most of what I’ve read to date.

The characters, I think, were introduced. Laid out for the reader to meet, so to speak. I think there were a lot of aspects to pay attention to—the world, the magic system, the action...—and the characterization suffered a little because of that. Still, we do have the grounds for good development and potential, we’ll just have to wait and see where it goes.

The relationships between the cast is perhaps the aspect where the potential of the characters is more pronounced, and the fact that they need more work more obvious. I’m not talking about the (barest) hints of romance, or about the friendship between the survivors, but about the very violent, very abusive relationship between our hero and our villainess. The stuff that happens there is harsh, and it’ll make many people frown upon teens reading this story because it’s the kind of material nightmares are made of. I enjoyed it because I was in the right mood to read about the depravity humans can fall to and because sometimes I’m a bit of a sadist and enjoy the characters truly suffering, not just sugar-coating it (this is the gut-feeling part) but it’s true that the level of torture you can find in these pages probably should have deeper consequences in the character’s psyche. That said, I was willing to suspend disbelief and go along, and still enjoy the story so there.

This is a planned series, I understand, so the full-out action happening here will surely have repercussions that I’m quite curious to see. The ending was quite open, too... But beyond a warning to avid back-to-back readers, what I mean to say is that there’s still a lot of potential for this series: it can go great, or it can fall into something less that spectacular along the following volumes. The beginning sure is promising, but there’s much to see about the characters, about the way the violence is handled, about the solutions to the conflict. That’s why I said this is a gut-rating: I enjoyed it, personal preference.

Also, a fair warning to you, grammar lovers: there were a few issues here and there. Didn’t keep me from reading, but I did note them.

This review is part of a book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions and, as part of the tour, there's a prize: SM will be awarding a Tarot Doll of their choice to a randomly drawn commenter (US/Canada Only) during the tour. For more information, visit this link


  1. Thank you very much for the review! I'm doing another pass through of the book. It seems like constant editing. LOL! But while I'm at it, I'll see if there's an emotional transition I missed somewhere. From what you're saying, I must have missed telling the reader, you, something about how deeply this affects Synn. I'll see if I can't fix that in the Second Edition. Thank you very much.

  2. This sounds good, Ron. I usually go with gut feelings on my ratings unless there are certain thing that bug me way too much. Sometimes I trust someone's gut feelings about a book more than if they pick it apart.

  3. wow very useful and interesting post! Great review Ron, I might add this one up. x

  4. Yes, if there are more than review request, it is always a good idea to hang on to them. I wouldn't have picked up this book myself but I have opened up a lot and I think I will like this book if I gave it a try. I'm just hesitant because of the complexity due to the whole world-building aspect.

    Great review as always, Ron!

    Sana @ artsy musings of a bibliophile

  5. If you're a fan of unusual steampunk novels, I'd recommend you pick this one up. Just give yourself some time to get into the story. You won't regret it. I didn't.
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