The Tarot of Vampyres by Ian Daniels

The Tarot of Vampyres
Ian Daniels
Llewellyn Publications, 2010
312 Pages, 78 Cards

Reviewed by Jasmine Simone

The Tarot of Vampyres, by Ian Daniels, has a lofty goal of helping the user to face their fears
and integrate their shadow self into one balanced whole. It misses the mark in a few places, but
the deck has beautiful art and a surprising depth — even the backs of the cards have meaning.

While tarot decks read differently for different people, I’ve found it to be fairly straightforward,
but time and contemplation reveal a lot of nuance in its responses. The cardstock is typical of
Llewellyn’s releases these past few years. It’s got a rather flimsy feel, but the cards have been
standing up to a lot of use and have a nice, smooth texture and shuffle. As is sadly the norm
lately, there is no bag included with the kit, and the oversized plain white box they expect you to
use falls apart after one or two openings.

The book that accompanies the deck is mostly dedicated to the descriptions and meanings of
the cards. Unlike many companion guides, the book includes no images of the cards, but it does
go into much greater detail on the Minor Arcana than what is usually found in these books. If it’s
a choice between the small black and white pictures normally given and the increased input on
the cards from the artist, I believe the right choice was made.

It sheds a lot of insight into the symbolism chosen, and since this is in no way a clone of the
Waite Colman Smith deck, the look into the artist’s intentions should be helpful for those more
used to “standard” imagery.

Daniels presents the cards as part of a system, and I found the various bits of kabbalah,
alchemy, elements, and Western astrology to be distracting, confusing, and unnecessary. They
aren’t necessary for successful tarot reading, and the information given isn’t enough to equip
a beginner to really use these methods. On the other hand, I thought that creating a “Vampyre
Name” was rather silly, but it was actually kind of fun, and the construction of a vampyre
persona may help lend a helpful distance in facing one’s fears.

The book also features many great exercises to work with the cards, and several interesting
spreads. This is a gorgeous deck that had a lot of thought put into it, although that wasn’t
immediately obvious to me. If you view this deck as being pretty, but shallow, as I did, flip
through the book and give the deck another chance.

Four pawprints out of five.

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Madame Xanadu by Wagner, Hadley, Friend, Fletcher and Major

Madame Xanadu: Disenchanted
Matt Wagner (Writer), Amy Reeder Hadley (Pencils, Inks), Richard Friend (Inks), Guy Major (Colors),
Jared Fletcher (Letters)
Vertigo, 2009
240 Pages

Reviewed by Covert

This is the first trade paperback of a series following the life of Madame Xanadu, a seer and magical
consultant in the DC/Vertigo Universe. The series starts out in medieval Britain as the DC version of
Camelot falls and Nimue (as she is known then) tries in vain to stop the fall. In the process, she loses
most of her powers and spends the rest of the book (and the next thousand or so years) regaining them.

I cannot sing the praises of this book loudly or often enough. This is one of the most accurate and
sympathetic treatments of a Pagan character in a comic that I’ve ever read, frankly. Nimue has a distinct
love of life and her home (whether that be Britain, China, France, or the States), and does what she can
to protect that. Unfortunately, when history and her efforts to protect her friends and home collide,
history always wins. Madame Xanadu is flawed, she’s impulsive and naïve and lets her anger get the
better of her. But we see her grow. We see her learn where her place is in a fast-moving world, and how
she can help those she loves. That really endears the series to me.

Plus, Disenchanted is littered with Pagan/occult elements and themes. Most obviously, in the beginning
of the book she prays to Brigid and Arianrhod, uses everything from the elder futhark to tarot (which
she invented in this universe) to divine her and others’ future, and deals with fellow Fae, demons, and
even Death herself. The theme of fate versus free will, tempered with divination, is something that is at
least touched upon in the life of every Pagan or magician who tries to predict the future. The treatment
of this theme in Disenchanted is interesting to say the least, and occasionally calls to mind the Greek
tragedies where knowing of and trying to avoid destiny creates it. The theme of the isolation created by
practicing magic (and being a centuries old member of a magical race) is sadly more resonant with me
than it really should be.

Overall, this is an amazing start to a good series. The other trade paperbacks are Exodus Noir, Broken
House of Cards, and Extra-Sensory. I recommend Broken House of Cards, and Extra-Sensory if you
particularly liked the first and third volumes. Do not read Exodus Noir unless you really feel the need
to finish the series. The art is atrocious and the plot is so mediocre that even the presence of Madame
Xanadu in a relationship with a woman is not enough to make me like the book.

Note: This book is for mature readers, and contains a rape scene and the word g**sy. The treatment of
the rape is period appropriate, and Madame Xanadu is appropriately appalled. The use of the slur is not
to harm or dehumanize a character, but instead to excoticize Madame Xanadu.

Five pawprints out of five for this book, four for the overall series.

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