Rosa’s family have moved from her beloved Edinburgh flat because of her brother Nairn’s asthma and she’s trying to come to terms with her new life on the very outskirts of the city. This is unexpectedly enlivened by glimpses of a mysterious boy – Andy Byron – who lives with his fragile mother in a dilapidated but impressive house in the woods nearby. When Rosa discovers a pack of tarot cards in a box of her mother’s things, she discovers not only an affinity with them but a connection between her family and Andy’s and some astonishing secrets from her mother’s past.
The story is refreshingly free of unnecessary convolutions, yet still intrigues convincingly. Rosa’s clear talent for reading the tarot leads her into an understanding that it is unwise to interfere in others’ lives, a conviction that is strengthened by the tragic results of her mother’s youthful foray into the cards.
Rosa is aided in her quest to discover the secrets of her mother’s past by Andy, who seeks to free his mother of her guilt and subsequent illness and to consolidate his friendship with Rosa. The nature of love forms one of the narrative themes, together with taking responsibility for the consequences of one’s actions.