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Kingdom of Spades is a perfect example of how an alluring title and a well-researched cover design can makes sales. Unfortunately, the execution of the story did not live up to the expectations set by the title, cover art and book blurb. Ignoring the oddities in syntax and tense inconsistencies, Kingdom of Spades still falls unbearably short.
Violet Hart dishes out exposition like an amateur writer overlooks comma-splices. In the first chapter (a mere 3 pages), the reader is introduced to Alex Wade, Wade’s unsupportive father, and Wade’s poker mentor. Hart raises the conflict of Wade being kicked out of his parents’ house for not wanting to work in the family business, and immediately resolves this conflict by having a world-class poker champion Vinnie decide to mentor him.
On the next page, Alex is economically thriving and is searching for a partner to share his life with (we discover later that 2 years pass over the course of this 3-paged chapter). In the last paragraph, Alex laments about his hopeless romantic ventures.
Chapter 2, line one: enter Bianca.
This is just one of the innumerable instances where Hart brushes past a character’s development, a conflict, a conflict’s resolution and other plot points. As with the first chapter, most of the story’s action happens off the page and is told to the reader retrospectively. Instead of experiencing the narrative arc, we are simply informed of character transformations, of points of conflict, and of the characters’ thoughts.
This two-star execution was enhanced slightly by Hart’s treatment of her protagonist. Alex Wade is the epitome of an unlikable protagonist. He is selfish, he does not grow or evolve throughout the story, and he narrates with a misguided sense of whiny self-entitlement. However, Hart brings us through Alex’s romantic journey by making almost each chapter one of his sexual misadventures. This manner of storytelling elicits (perhaps inadvertently) sympathy for the Alex character which is a tall order for a story which does not bring the reader through any depth of character building.
This artistic choice is what prompted me to ultimately raise the rating of Kingdom of Spades to 3 out of 5 stars.
Purchase Kingdom of Spades Book I here.