Monday, October 15, 2012

Review: The Place Vampire Tarot

Photo by J. Burgos from
What: The Vampire Tarot Book & Deck Boxed Set.
Who: Book and Deck by Robert M. Place.
Price: Retails between $5 (sale prices) and $30.
Size: Deck is roughly 3x5", square cornered and glossy.
Where: I purchased my deck at Hastings, here is an link.
Rating: ●●○○○

Upsides: The deck and book set are packaged attractively in a glossy, brocade-patterned, box. The book is reasonably thick, with a silky matte finish. The layout is clean and simple, easily readable with small borders and renderings of classical tarot illustrations inside.  While not being detailed, the book has a lightly treated history of the ideology and nature of the Tarot in general. It also covers in a similarly light fashion the history of the Vampire as a literary and spiritual archetype.  The cards are large and durable, which makes them suited for doing readings for others.

Downsides: The box is almost impossible to open the first few times (pictured above Left). Whether it's the glossiness, or sheer forces, I do not know, but it took me half an hour after purchasing it to get it open the first time and it required an assistant pulling on the lid while I held the bottom. It hasn't gotten much better in the ensuing months of wrenching it apart and kicking it around the room. As far as the book: other than some fluff reading the non-meaning portions of the book only serve to illustrate why the author created the deck, rather than being especially illuminating -about- it. Over half of the book, space that could be dedicated to layout or weighty interpretations of the cards, is spent on the aforementioned, which is a shortcoming to me. The high gloss finish on the card, paired with their size, makes them hard to shuffle and handle until they're "broken in".

Style: This is a standard "tarot deck" in the Waite/Smith Style. The back image (depicted above Right) is a mirroring depiction of a vampiric face and batwinged celtic-esque interlace. The faces are done with a simple woodblock line art style, and simple digital coloring. This is an asset, as it keeps the deck from being too busy.  The Majors, and really the entire deck, follow the story of "Dracula" and are highly pictoral. The Minors enter into the tools of Vampire-hunting with the suits being converted from "Cups" to flasks of Holy Water, Swords to "Knives", Wands to "Stakes" and Discs to "Garlic Flowers. There are no "Premium"/"Buck" cards - no title card nor "about this deck" type thing.

Tricks and Treats: Like all vampire-associated decks they are trickier to read. If one is reading for a person who identifies with that archetype, or if the deck identifies them so, pulling these hunter-weapons could be intensely negative. But along the same line pulling traditionally negative cards like "Death", "The Three of Swords", "The Moon", and "The Tower" becomes positive. Vampires are enriched by death, by the night...etc. A vampire's castle is his haven and safe-keep, it doesn't topple in these cards, it is his debauched palace of decadence. Swords may pierce his heart, but they won't do a bloody damned thing.

Verdict: The deck reads pleasantly, it doesn't fight but it doesn't offer much to the reader. It is not as highly spirited as the Thoth deck, nor as verbose as the Rider Waite. In other words, it's very middle-of-the-road. For me, the issue is how hard it is for me to mess with it physically.

Rating: ●●○○○

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