Virginia Weiss’ novel, The 53rd Card, is an utterly readable fusion of fantasy, spiritual speculation, and mystery that chronicles a young woman’s harrowing journey to enlightenment.
On midnight of Christmas Eve, Emma Addison inadvertently summons the Prince of Darkness: “clean shaved and olive complexioned… a quintessential portrait of Hellenistic beauty.” Dealing with myriad issues—the tragic death of her brother, abuse at the hands of her uncle years earlier, a recent break-up with her boyfriend, and the loss of her job—Emma is lonely and vulnerable. After giving the seductive Lucifer a cherished pendant that she received from her mother—a stone carving of the Chinese goddess Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy—Emma unknowingly opens a doorway to his domain.
While struggling to understand her significance in the world, Emma helps a young pregnant woman and becomes entangled in a deadly situation after her abusive boyfriend murders the woman in Emma’s apartment. Complicating matters is a neighborhood pimp who is seemingly obsessed with her beauty. As she slowly spirals down into madness, Lucifer visits her and attempts to beguile her with various gifts and abilities.
This isn’t a just a superficial examination into the nature of evil—or a clichéd Good versus Evil tale. Weiss goes deep thematically and investigates the speculative answers to questions like “Is God dreaming the world or the world dreaming God?” The author explores Biblical and Chinese mythologies, as well as symbolism and theory revolving around paganism, the Tarot, Anton LaVey, and even Aleister Crowley.
While the narrative becomes unwieldy and sluggish in places, which negatively impacts momentum and overall tension, readers who enjoy profoundly philosophical novels will find this Faustian novel highly entertaining and deeply thought-provoking.
Also available as an ebook.