(Sigh). I have always been interested in Tarot cards - their history, mystique, design. So when I read that Patricia Simpson had come out with a novel containing a mix of intrigue, romance, adventure, magic and an ancient deck of Tarot cards with a curse attached to their finder/owner, I thought, terrific - an assured good read!! I also saw many reviews lauding the book. OK. I was convinced. "The Dark Lord" would be a winner! So, without a second thought I went out and bought it. What a waste of time and money - and I am not usually this mean, really. The thing is, the concept of the storyline is so unusual and fantastic, (as in wonderful), how could the author go wrong? I expected her to spin a great tale, filled with myth and mysticism. And I am sorry to write this, but Ms. Simpson just threw it all away. In fact, this is an absolutely amateurish effort. I was not entertained.
The writing is poor. The narrative rambles. The characters are all one dimensional, like the figures on a deck of cards, but with little of the occult and absolutely nothing of the inscrutable. To make matters worse, I couldn't find one single personage I liked. There is almost no communication between characters. Enablers abound. Rather than follow through with the Tarot narrative and the dire events which occur, and are predicted to occur as a consequence of their discovery, we are taken off on various boring tangents which have little to do with the cards or their history.
Our heroine, Dr. Fay Rae Lambers, is a math professor at UC Berkeley. This lady has some serious problems, and they began when she was born. The Ob/Gyn dropped her on her head. No kidding! Things went downhill from that moment. She suffers from arthritis and various other ailments which cause her to be in almost constant physical pain. She is also extremely neurotic with low self esteem, so she lives a relatively restricted life. In other words she has Victimitis and no sense of humor. How did she get her Ph.D.? (In calculus, no less!). Dr. Lambers is a loner who believes she is a loser, and with the exception of her sister Angie - a self-centered flirt with a drinking problem - Fay has basically isolated herself from most social contact. She does have one friend, a longtime mentor with whom she has had a relationship since she was a girl, Dr. Thomas Gregory. Other than him, there are no girlfriends, no boyfriends (never), nada...and she is twenty-eight years-old!
Moving right along, Angie and Fay Rae travel to Luxor, Egypt for a much needed vacation. Fay wants her sister to disengage from her abusive boyfriend and stop drinking. The tour group they are with gets caught in a sandstorm while sightseeing. As the women wend their way back to the bus, Fay stumbles upon an ancient metal box, which she, of course, picks up and takes with her. She is told, later that evening, by an Egyptian shopkeeper and expert in antiquities, that the box and its contents present a grave danger and should be thrown in the Nile. The man reads some Aramaic words written on the container. He is able to makes out, "Soul. Dark Lord. Otherworld."..and "Typhon the Devil." These are the cursed "Forbidden Tarot." The box should never be opened. Guess what? Sounds like a wonderful plot so far, doesn't it? Well, there's not too much more in the story about these cards, or the lethal powers they unleash. Actually the lethal powers are more comedic, at times, than deadly! Instead we get a bizarre soap opera about the dysfunctional Lamber family, and the even more emotionally disabled Gregory family. These personal and emotional dramas supercede the paranormal.
Anyway, Dr. Gregory, who dies mysteriously before Fay gets home, is the father of Michael, a handsome guy with an attitude problem. He used to be Fay's school chum. Or at least they were friends until they had a "misunderstanding" when they were adolescents. Obviously, he will emerge as a love interest despite mutual bitter feelings. Meanwhile, on the plane trip back to the states Fay meets a fellow passenger, the fabulously wealthy, debonair Simeon Avare, who takes an immediate interest in her, a really serious immediate interest. She goes directly from famine to feast! Unfortunately, over a hundred pages must be dedicated to the bickering, misunderstandings and squabbles between Michael, Fay and Simeon. By the way, terrible dialogue. Things seem to pick up a bit when Dr. Fay Rae meets a psychic who knows about the Forbidden Tarot and predicts an unsettling future for mankind, to say the least, etc.. But then it's back to the love triangle between the white knight, the dark villain, and the chronic complainer...plus Angie's problems, of which there are a multitude.
There is little of the mythical or mystical here. Yes there is a plot which supposedly revolves around the paranormal, but it meanders so much it loses its way, and mine too. The ending has got to be one of the worst I have read in years. Everything is swept under the rug and left neat and tidy...supposedly. Too many threads dangling for my taste.
I know I will probably take flack for this review, but I have to vote my conscience. 1 Star!