Saturday, July 21, 2018

#Review - The Serpent (The Immortal Dealers #1) by Sarah Fine (Urban Fantasy)

Series: The Immortal Dealers # 1
Format: E-Galley, 316 pages
Release Date: July 24, 2018
Publisher: 47North
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: Urban Fantasy

One woman is in a world of otherworldly trouble—and she’s going to have to bet her life to save humankind.

Ernestine “Ernie” Terwilliger has put her dreams aside to look after her eccentric mother. Case in point: saving her from a mysterious stranger who’s just stormed the terrified woman’s antique store wearing a rattlesnake tattoo, leveling threats, and brandishing the weirdest deck of cards Ernie’s ever seen.

When Ernie grabs some of the cards and runs, she’s launched into a world she never knew existed—one her mother may know more about than she’s revealing. With a handful of stolen cards, Ernie has just been made an unwilling player in a game of good versus evil. But she’s not even playing with a full deck, and its original owner is more than happy to kill to get his cards back.

Suddenly Ernie’s matching wits and plays with the supernatural Immortal Dealers, who can raise empires, damn souls, and shape the world’s destiny. It’s up to Ernie to defeat the most brutal member of their order. And if her roguish new ally isn’t bluffing, he can help. The mystery is all in the cards, and to save her life—and humanity—Ernie had better learn how to deal.

The Serpent is the first installment in a brand new series by author Sarah Fine called The Immortal Dealers. The series is set in a contemporary world where protagonist Ernestine "Ernie" Terwilliger is just a woman trying to get by while working as a Hospital Clerk for a local hospital in Asheville, North Carolina. She also takes care of her eccentric, harebrained, pagan, hippie mother who operates Terwilliger Antiquities. Ernie has been taking care of her mother since her father disappeared 20 years ago.

During a night out with her best friends, Dia and Jules, Ernie meets a strange man who gives Jules a dire warning with what appears to be tarot cards. The next day, a man named Gabe Carrig, who she met at the same bar, shows up at her mother's shop asking about anything unusual that Mara Terwilliger may have received recently. It appears that Mara knows more than she is saying, but remains steadfast in her determination to protect her daughter, even going as far as telling her to travel and get away from town for awhile.

Trouble reappears its ugly head once again in the form of Duncan, the guy with the cards who gave Jules a dire warning, who threatens Ernie's mother demanding a certain object he desperately wants. Duncan is the worst kind of trouble, and has brought along what appears to be a diamondback snake with him! In order to help her mother, Ernie decides to steal part of his deck of tarot cards and run for it. She doesn't get very far before she is transported to Ireland where she once again meets Gabe. 

Gabe, like Duncan, also appears to be holding Tarot Cards that are able to do the most wondrous things imaginable. Without meaning to, Ernie has found herself in a world where she is now and forever part of a group known as Immortal Dealers. In this world, you become a Dealer by taking a full deck of 54 cards from someone else, or being made one by an immortal called the Forger. Ernie's issue is that unless she gets the whole deck soon, there will be dire consequences. Ernie has to work with Gabe and other Dealers in order to take away Duncan's deck of cards, and the diamondback snake that appears to be connected to the deck. 

Alright, so I was impressed by this story. I am always looking for something new and different and I found it! I loved the idea of Tarot Cards that have different uses like transport, escape, translate, capture, shield, deceive and others. While other authors have used Tarot Cards before, this is a new and very cool way to make them even better than ordinary cards. Dealers have the ability to change the course of human history, and there are many examples given by the author and secondary characters who ally with Gabe and Ernie to defeat their nemesis.

Gabe is the brooding, handsome Irishmen who seems to be carrying the world on his shoulders, but manages to keep his cool when it comes to helping a rookie Dealer learn about her new calling. There is a hint of romance between Gabe and Ernie, but nothing so overt that it takes over the story or the action, or the suspense, or the mystery, or the betrayal that happens in this story. I have been hearing how Urban Fantasy is a dying breed. Well, I disagree. With authors like Sarah Fine around and creating well thought out stories like The Serpent, the future still looks pretty good to me.

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