Dark Forces Book #9 – Eyes of the Tarot by Bruce Coville

While visiting her grandmother for the summer Bonnie McBurnie discovers a trunk in the attic filled with memories from her youth and of the grandfather who shared it with her. Among these treasures, buried under nesting dolls and kimonos, is a small wrapped package secluded in a hidden compartment.

Here she finds a pack of ancient tarot cards which immediately capture her imagination. Without her grandmothers knowledge she takes these with her when she returns home and the cards begin to cast a spell over the sixteen year old girl, spreading misfortune and awakening something in Bonnie that has long since been forgotten.
Memories of an old tragedy mingle with vivid dreams of mystical characters as Bonnie’s world falls apart around her; and she realizes that her actions have triggered the return of an ancient evil that could destroy everything she holds dear.

Bruce Colville’s Eyes of the Tarot, book number nine in the Dark Forces series has to be one of the better books in the range. Though its story is no more complex and presents little more depth than its companion books Colville writes a great deal better than his fellow authors in the series.

Atmosphere and dialogue are Colville’s strengths and the characters and world he builds with deceptive ease in Eyes of the Tarot easily bury any shortcomings in story or plot. The opening scene in the dusty attic where the tarot cards are found to the raging sea on which the book ends are all equally well rendered while never over stepping description and usurping the readers own imagination in the process.

I find that some authors overdo the description of a scene or character, and I can find this even more off putting than a lack of information in this area. Once the world is drawn the reader should be allowed to take it and run with it, the written word acting as a guide rather than a series of rules, so the reader can adjust the world in accordance to their own experience.

As a slight aside here I’ve had people comment about my own writing concerning this, in that I sometimes do the same. People sometimes refer to my “flowery description” and how off putting they find it at times; so I am no less guity here, though I try not to be.

Colville on the other hand manages to walk this line rather well, allowing the reader to fine tune his story and imprint more of themselves into it. At their best this is what separates young adult novels from those we “progress” to as we grow older, though I’m not sure that in many cases “progress” is quite the right word, and perhaps this is one of the reasons why many older readers still have a soft spot for such books.

Young adult novels strengths lie in the author’s ability to mirror that character to the reader in some significant way. This is done in adult novels too, this is true, but in the young adult book this addition carries a great deal of weight, and perhaps is the main draw to such books.

Generally speaking story and plot in such books cover a relatively narrow range, which is further restricted by the available range of acceptable content for a younger reader, so a great deal has to be done with far less as a necessity.

Bruce Colville is surprisingly adept at this.

Eyes of the Tarot was a book I originally read back in the mid 1980’s and I was probably no more than thirteen or so when I read it. I didn’t remember this until I started rereading the book recently and I wonder how I managed to forget a book I should have enjoyed a great deal at the time. Perhaps this is because of the female protagonist (though her boyfriend is called Alan, so I would have thought I’d remember that) but this didn’t make a difference with many others I read at the time so maybe I was just too young to appreciate the effort that went into this particular work.

Checking the history of the book I have noted that the e-book I recently read is a revised edition that includes a further twenty or so pages to the books original hundred and fifty or so and I noted many additions in the book that must have been a apart of this rewrite. At one point a character mentions the X Files for instance, which appeared on TV over ten years after this book was originally released and so I wonder how this edition compares to the original printing of the book.

Obviously this is something I should look into and if the opportunity arises to get a cheap copy of the original printing of Eyes of the Tarot I intend to do just that.

Quite a few Bruce Colville books have been released in the e-book format, among them another book from the Dark Forces range. This book, Waiting Spirits, will probably be the next on the list on my rereading of these fondly remembered books from my youth.
In the meantime I intend to take a look at some of the series I didn’t read at the time that are now available in the e-book format, a little research has shown a surprising range of them now easily available for those of us who want to revisit those chilling tales from our youth.


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