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The Dark Horse: Forbidden Tarot    by Patricia Simpson order for
Dark Horse
by Patricia Simpson
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2005 (2005)
* * *   Reviewed by Rashmi Srinivas

In the first book of this series, The Dark Lord, Rae Lambers found and opened a deck of forbidden tarot cards, thus awakening ancient Egyptian god Set (aka Satan), who wreaked havoc in her life.

Mistakenly sold, the cards then find their way into the unsuspecting hands of Claire Coulter, a cryptographer specializing in ancient hieroglyphics. When her boss, Tobias Benton, approaches Claire with a proposition to accompany him on a trip to discover the Fountain of Youth (he promises to help save her dying brother), Claire apprehensively accepts. Together with surly but mysterious guide Jack Hughes, elegant Professor Simeon Avare, and the rest of the warring Hughes clan, Claire and Tobias set off into eerie Medicine Valley. Evading Tobias's increasing sexual overtures, enthralled by Jack's charisma and with Rae's warnings ringing in her ears, Claire soon comes to realize this journey will change her life forever - or end it.

Patricia Simpson brings to this second adventure the same engrossing mix of history, mystery and fantasy that characterized the first episode. Like previous protagonist Rae Lambers, Claire Coulter has her own concerns - in the form of immigration problems, social prejudice, medical issues and sexual harassment. Jack Hughes, with his wild and surly ways, is an intriguing enigma who keeps readers guessing until the end. However the most intriguing characterization is that of Set. It's through his thoughts, fears and hopes that Simpson gives readers a glimpse into the history and psychology of the Egyptian gods. She even hints at things to come in the next episode.

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