When most of us envision tarot cards, the first thing that comes to mind is a collection of colorfully-adorned rectangles displaying symbols, animals and people that, among other things, help predict key components of our futures. Trusting in a perfect stranger to guide you on your life’s journey based solely on which cards are chosen for you can seem like a simple way to find yourself with high hopes and even greater disappointments. Perhaps the most intense of these highs and lows relate to the reading recipient’s love life. Those who trust in the tarot may live their entire lives searching for the kind of deep, passionate connection that the cards may suggest is on their life’s horizon.

Whether or not you believe in the power of these readings to accurately tell the future, there is certainly some merit in the role they play in Anna Durbin’s King of Wands (Bowker). This Regency romance gives us hope that just a little bit of trust in the power of destiny can lead us to find true love. Besides, when the tarot reader happens to be your grandmother, it’s a little bit easier to put all of your faith in a deck of artistically decorated pieces of paper.

A STEP BACK IN TIME

Durbin’s second novel in the Kings of the Tarot series transports the reader back to 1807 London. The opening scene greets us with a tarot reading by main character Julia’s grandmother, whom she affectionately calls “grandmamma.” Julia’s love life hasn’t been very happy so far — she’s a widow whose deceased husband was abusive. A flickering candle reveals possible turmoil in Julia’s future, causing her instant anxiety. Grandmamma’s hesitation to speak on what the cards are revealing leaves both Julia and the reader anxious to learn what happens next. Julia spots the ninth card in the deck, which sends her into further emotional turmoil. 

We quickly come to realize that this card represents Charles Rodman, a tortured man who was deeply hurt by his former wife. After the two meet on an off chance, their characters embark on a whirlwind journey to conquer their past traumas and current issues within their relationship. 

CHARLES AND JULIA ARE PARTNERS IN GROWTH

Perhaps some of the most interesting elements of this novel, though, pertain to Julia and Charles’ development as characters as they try to find happiness together. I fully enjoyed how Durbin allowed Charles and Julia to follow their own convictions in subplots that complement the main plot line. Julia pursues a personal mission to create a safe space for women struggling from abuse, like she did.

Charles, on his part, seeks to become more forgiving. This stands in direct contrast to his life as a minister, which helps to humanize him and show that he is capable of receiving love despite his flaws. Julia helps him along this journey with her compassion and deep concern for others. The intermingling of their separate work, combined with a common care for each other, serves as a testament to the age-old adage that two people can truly bring out the best in each other.

This novel brings the reader on an adventure that spans decades and continents, revealing that the best things in life are sometimes worth stepping outside of your comfort zone to find. Durbin seamlessly connects characters and events to create a full-circle story that leaves readers with a little bit of extra faith in the power of their own convictions. Even the greatest skeptics may want to see what the tarot has to say about their future after seeing the power of the cards at work in the lives of Julia and Charles.


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Award-winning author Anna Durbin blends romance with the esoteric in her Kings of the Tarot series set in Regency England. Having grown up reading sagas of chivalry and romance, she began crafting her own elaborate stories in her imagination at a young age. It was only natural that she would one day write them down. Enchanted with the Tarot deck since her teens, she enjoys weaving the symbolism of the cards into her storylines.

Anna has lived in ten different states throughout her lifetime, from California to New Jersey. A Midwesterner at heart, she was born in Kansas and raised in Iowa. Currently, she lives in Wisconsin with her husband and a crazy calico cat named Maizy. She works a day job as a technician for local government.