by Rose Wright and Illustrated by Eugene Smith

Publisher: Llewellyn Publications, 2020
ISBN: 978-0-7387-6033-9

Welcome to the mysterious and macabre world of Edgar Allan Poe, where ‘All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream’.

What a dream it is, though! The Edgar Allan Poe Tarot takes us deep into our psyche by way of stories, essays, and poems by America’s most famous gothic and Romantic writer. All your favourites are here: poems ‘Annabelle Lee’ and ‘Lenore’, and short stories ‘The Raven’, ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’, ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’, and ‘The Murders in the Rue Morgue’. And lots that may well be new. I had never heard of Poe’s only complete novel, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, and I really enjoyed finding out more about it. But don’t worry! No research required. All is cleverly revealed as you explore the hidden nooks and crannies of this deck.

As you might expect, the cards in the Edgar Allan Poe deck are each illustrated with a scene from one of his works. For example, the Hanged Man shows a scene from ‘The Pit and the Pendulum’ where the narrator is bound to a table with a swinging pendulum above him which, just like in James Bond, lowers with every swing. From our perspective, he is upside-down. Does he escape? Well, that would be telling.

The Fool has a scene from ‘The Cask of Amontillado’, where the guileless Fortunato is being tricked into the wine cellar where our villain Montresor plans to seal him in … permanently. In the card, Fortunato wears a Fool’s outfit (as he does in the story) and trips along merrily, as Montresor stalks behind him with a bricklaying trowel. Does he get away? Well. He’s a Fool anyway, that much is clear.

The handbook is luxurious – it’s glossy and colourful, a real pleasure to handle, and is full of details on the Poe stories, poems, and essays used in the deck as well as handy interpretation cues for Tarot. Every card gets its own full page of explanation – front and back – plus a full-page image of the card. All in glorious colour. In ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’ section, author Rose Wright explains what’s happening in the story she has chosen, and ‘Into the Maelstrom’ gives the Tarot card meaning, along with Upright and Reversed interpretations.

There are nine spreads at the back of the book: four Basic Spreads e.g. Past, Present, and Future but also a new one called ‘The Fan’; and five specifically designed Edgar Allan Poe Spreads including ‘The Raven Spread’ and the ‘Dream within a dream’ spread. At the end of the book is a listing of all the works by Poe that Rose Wright references in the deck.

The cards are standard size and weight, and are easy to riffle-shuffle. There is a slight sheen, but I wouldn’t call them glossy – they’re definitely not slippery. They come in a sturdy box with a fold-over top and magnetic clasp. Quality, all around.

This deck would be absolutely perfect for readings around Halloween/Samhain – there aren’t many decks themed for that time of year, so this is quite a find. That’s not to say it’s 100% Gothic goodness, though. It also has a 19th-century feel to it in the style of the illustrations that are perfect bookish fun.

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