Review: The Card Sharp by Laura Lam

The Card Sharp


Series: Vestigial Tales #4 | Genre: YA, fantasy | This edition: Kindle | Publisher: Penglass Publishing (Laura Lam) | Publication date: September 15th 2014 | My rating: 4/5

“He always mourned that moment, when the high began to fade. It was like he moved from who he wanted to be to having to face the reality of who he was. He’d rather feel supernatural. More than Drystan Hornbeam, a seventeen-year-old-boy who had made a lot of foolish mistakes and didn’t seem to be changing his habits anytime soon.”

Before Drystan became the White Clown of R.H. Ragona’s Circus of Magic, he was a Lerium addict struggling on the streets of Imachara. When a mysterious woman gives him a chance at a new life, he takes it, even if it means falling even deeper into the dark underbelly of the capital of Ellada. Drystan knows that selling Lerium to the powerful men and women who bet at the high stakes card tables is perilous, especially when he still battles his own addictions. Yet when he meets a man who can help him learn to cheat at cards and swindle them out of enough money to start a new life, he dives headfirst into more danger.

This last story in Laura Lam’s ‘Vestigial Tales’ collection was one I’d especially been looking forward to, and it didn’t disappoint me. Ever since picking up her first novel, Pantomime, I’ve been fascinated by the character of Drystan. With this story, along with ‘The Snake Charm’, I get what I’ve wanted from the get-go – more of his background. That said, now I want even more!

Taken on its own, this is a sharply paced novella, as lean and immediately intriguing as the rest. Set before the events of Pantomime, it shows us how Drystan met the magician Jasper Maske, and gives us another look into who he was and what his life was like before Micah Grey came into it. Aside from cranking my sympathy for him up another few notches, it left me with the distinct impression that Drystan isn’t someone to cross lightly – not because he’s especially volatile; he isn’t, but he is sharp, and as the events in this story prove, also more than a little devious when he feels the need to be. Without getting into book spoilers… let’s just say I really want to see what that sharp mind can achieve when (if?) we get book three in this series.

Prayerful pause: please gods, let there be a book three. *Sacrifices cake*

So, yes. This is another tasty little bite (damn, shouldn’t have mentioned cake) of story goodness from a world I love, with a character I can’t get enough of. It isn’t perfect, for me – there was a time or two where I thought a little more detail wouldn’t have gone amiss, generally speaking – but all in all, it’s another hit. Laura Lam is stupidly good at this sort of thing, you should be reading her stuff, and now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to find cake…


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