In this sequel to The Game of Triumphs, we see again the four main characters. Blaine hopes that his prize in the game will help him find his violent step father and make him pay. Cat wants to find her parents' killer and bring him to justice. Flora wants to find her sister Grace and convince her to leave the game. Toby doesn't have anything to win-- he just likes wielding the power within the game. The only problem is that when these young people let the Fool rise to the position of the Master of Misrule, they unleashed the evil power of the game, and it's seeping from Arcanum into the real world. Scratch cards for the "Triumph Lottery" with either heads or tails are being found all over London, and those who reveal "Heads, you win" have good luck, while those who reveal the devil's tale have woe befall them. All four want to retrieve their prize from Arcanum, but when they go to Temple House, they find it trashed. They meet the High Priest, who tells them the current state of the game-- they have ruined it with their meddling, and the only way to save both worlds is for the four to take the place of the disabled kings and queens who are the game masters. Fighting both against the game, as well as to attain their original goals, the four struggle against all of the traps and deceits that Arcanum has to offer.
This is a brilliant, evocative two book series, perfect for students who like role playing games, or any kind of game. There is a lush, Victorian air to much of the book, and the palpable struggle against evil has the personal aspect to it to make it almost painful. The inclusion of tarot elements makes this an innovative and original fantasy. Very nice.