Book Reviews,  Reviews

Book Review: Kitchen Table Tarot

Review by Treewitch / Margo Benson

Melissa Cynova runs the successful blog,, where the ideas for this book first took shape. What a great cover this is! I like the Amy-Winehouse-meets-The Housewives-Tarot look, where you can imagine the no-nonsense lessons and advice from the author. Inside the reader gets exactly what is described, an intimate and friendly chat about tarot with a friend. With no frills.

The book is about the size of a contemporary novel with 271 pages. It isn’t going to be “The only guide you’ll ever need”, but it is aimed towards the beginner’s market in a down-to-earth manner, and covers a significant amount of material very efficiently. The author quickly dispels old myths and tales of needing someone to gift you your first deck; the need to sleep with your cards under your pillow, and so forth. The reader is very much encouraged to pick up the cards and start reading.

The deck used to demonstrate the meanings and interpretations is Llewellyn’s Classic Tarot, and each image is reproduced pretty much full size in black and white with text that includes upright and inverted meanings. Each major arcana card is accompanied by an affirmation e.g. The Emperor, I am directing: Temperance, I am balancing (which is repeated for Justice). The author advises the reader to use a Rider Waite Smith deck, or style thereof. She refers to this throughout the book as the ‘Basic Deck’.

Cynova also adds her own anecdotes and experiences, which brings the interpretations into a reality not always found in other guides. The writing is refreshing and the author’s voice is sassy, direct and humorous. Naturally such a voice will make sweeping statements about meanings at times but, as with any tarot lesson, the reader is free to take or leave as much or as little as they choose. Alongside the humour and straight talking though, is support and kindness. I can imagine Cynova clutching your hand and saying, “You’ve got this. You’re OK”.

I do have two little quibbles – when the author suggests a bunch of suitable RWS style decks, the 1JJ Swiss Tarot appears on the list, and I would imagine this non-illustrated pip, Marseilles type deck somehow popped in there by mistake. The other quibble is a little more serious. Cynova is obviously a huge fan of Pamela Colman Smith (‘Mother of Tarot’) … but to say, “This is arguably the beginning of the tarot deck as we know it” dismisses several hundred years of important tarot history and may mislead a beginner into thinking tarot only existed from the 1900s. I think the intention is to focus on RWS for the purposes of the book, but some judicious editing there would be welcome in future editions.

Overall though, I really enjoyed this book. The reader is encouraged to find their own slant and fit the images and meanings into their own lives. Deeper esoteric associations are pared down in order to simply read the cards. Kitchen Table Tarot is an exciting and enthusiastic read and I would recommend it for sure.

Kitchen Table Tarot
By Melissa Cynova
Published by Llewellyn (2017)
Review by Treewitch

Want to read more? View Margo’s blog: Realm of the Treewitch
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