There’s something so tantalizing about casinos. Maybe it’s the glitzy lights, the slight of hand card games, or the endless cocktails? Or maybe it’s the enigmatic characters that sit across and alongside you as you play your hand at luck with the hopes of striking it big?
In his new book, Queen of Spades, Michael Shou-Yung Shum reinvents a Pushkin classic of the same name, but instead of the Russian countryside, this story takes place on shores of the Emerald City. Michael mirrors the Russian poet’s array of characters with many similarities, but still makes the story uniquely his own.
Readers will find themselves immersed into the underbelly of Seattle’s casino culture, which is an homage to the author’s own experiences as a poker dealer at a casino in Lake Stevens, Washington.
Instead of choosing a more well-known place for gambling, like Las Vegas or Atlantic City, Michael sets his characters in a city that’s “off the beaten path,” a place that’s known for its inherent beauty and tranquility. This provides a striking juxtaposition to the ugliness and turbulence gambling can evolve into, like avarice and addiction.
This book delves head-first into the psychology behind gambling and why it’s something so many people can’t just walk away from after losing a hand or two. Queen of Spades is a delicate intersection between a fairytale and a cautionary tale. That is what gambling is anyway, right? It’s an escape from reality for the chance at changing our current trajectory.
I really enjoyed how this book reinvented a classic Russian story into something younger generations can read and appreciate. Queen of Spades has such a thoughtful plot and without a doubt, some of the most enthralling, multi-faceted characters I’ve encountered in a while…would it be too forward to say we might have a modern-day Pushkin on the rise?
Pick up a copy and judge for yourself. Queen of Spades is in stores and available online as of TODAY!
If you’re in the Seattle area tomorrow night (Wednesday October 11, 2017), Michael’s going to be speaking about Queen of Spades (and signing books!) at Powell’s bookstore at 7:30pm. Here’s the link with more information! If you’re interested in learning more about the author, this is his website.
I received this book complimentary on behalf of the publisher, but all thoughts and opinions in this post are my own. All photography featured in this post is my own; please seek permission before copying or reproducing the images.
Score Card: Cover Art 5/5 | Content 5/5 | Ease of Read 5/5
Book Stats: Title- Queen of Spades by Michael Shou-Yung Shum
Page Count- 256
Binding- Trade Paperback
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I'm a twenty-something year old recent law and business school grad living with a chronic health condition. Follow along on my shenanigans.