Review by Jessica Forth
It is not often that a book opens is narrative with the call to action on it’s first page. It is also unusual that when the stakes a raised so quickly the are undercut so soundly in the following paragraphs. But so begins Jack of Spades.
Jack of Spades is a young adult conspiracy thriller set in 1910’s Paris.
It follows Linda after she receives a Jack of Spades in the mail signaling her father is in trouble. But what following this inciting incident is not a rush to answer the call but a very detailed explanation of what the card means and the main character’s history. It was like someone blew up the balloon but instead of having it pop they just let it go to dither about the room. But thankfully this is not how Jack of Spades will continue its narrative.
Written in twee language that smacks of Watson’s voice from the Sherlock novels with all the moxey of Jane Austen’s Emma, its hard to begin the novel. But once Linda is in Paris and the plot kicks off, it starts to even out and the exposition is fed to the reader at a more reasonable rate and tends to leave action alone.
It is a beautiful look at 1910 Paris and is obviously coming from someone who loves the city and has done their research. Both sides of Paris are shown, the wonders of all the Paris art and high life as well as the seedy criminal underbelly, well as seedy as a children’s book can get anyway. Both a given as much care as the other and the characters who inhabit them serve not just as scenery but to make the world feel lived in. The central plot and world conspiracy has the wonderful feature of “I can’t tell you to much about this otherwise I will spoil it,” which means that recommending this book is easy. It creates its own mystery instantly.
It was a well worth the whiplash the beginning of the book gave me and I am already making a list of all the people I will recommend this book to. Jack of Spades by Sophie Masson is exciting and I hope to visit the world again.
Image courtesy of Booktopia.