The Vampire Tarot by Robert Place
Review by Thalassa Therese

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Robert Place has created yet another splendid contribution to tarot in The Vampire Tarot, his most recent opus. Place's artistic style lends itself beautifully to a darkly elegant interpretation of the tarot images filtered through the scrim of vampire mythology, and his scholarship makes for some unique takes on the tarot.

Thematically, the deck is primarily focused on Bram Stoker's Dracula, the quintessential vampire novel, although he draws on the lore and traditions of vampires dating back to the Greeks. The glossy, sharp-edged (a nice touch!) cards are drawn from a variety of other Gothic, Romantic (the movement, not the sentiment, which is why Lord Byron, Franz Liszt and other, possibly unexpected, people appear in the court cards) and vampire imagery. The images are arrestingly beautiful and frequently disturbing, dancing along the themes of death and resurrection, blood and salvation, madness and creativity. Place uses the alchemical quest for enlightenment, the desire for immortality that informs the vampire mythos and the tarot facility for mapping the progress of the soul to craft a timely and satisfyingly coherent themed deck.

The book is a fascinating exploration of the history of tarot and the evolution of the accoutrements of the vampire legend, pulling from a wide research base, and a valuable contribution in itself to tarot literature. Place brings the earlier versions of tarot from the early Renaissance to the development of the Marseilles-style decks, which enriches the descriptions of the cards and their meanings. Between the information on vampires and the elaboration of tarot imagery and history, the book gives one a lot to chew on.

The production values are very high - good quality card stock, a densely packed booked and a handsome storage box.

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  Yes No
78 cards X  
Reversible Backs X  
Strength VIII, Justice XI   X
Color Images X  
Standard (RWS) Titles of the Major Arcana   X
Traditional (RWS) Suits (Wands, Cups, Swords, Coins)   X
Traditional (RWS) Golden Dawn Suit-Element Attributions Rods--Air; Swords--Fire X  
Standard dimensions (approx. 4 3/4" X 2 3/4")                     X
Smaller than standard     X
Larger than standard   (approx. 5 1/4" x 3 1/2")                                         X  

Review 2009 Thalassa Therese

Images 2009 St. Martin's Press