So now my Vampire Tarot set is complete, and I think I'd like to take a look at it this week.
First a word about the box. It is beautiful, a big chunky, solid box in vivid black and red. The lid fits snugly in place, so you have to shake and slide and grumble a bit to get the box to slide apart, then within, a substantial companion book nestles perfectly inside the box, on top of a plastic insert which fits perfectly, the cards snug in a recessed compartment that fits them perfectly. Now, you wouldn't think everything fitting together snugly and perfectly would be such a big deal -- unless you'd bought a few Llewellyn decks. Then you'd know what a treat it is to get something that is so tidy and well constructed. Yes, it's a shame there were cards missing, but still!
The cards themselves are relatively thick and actually quite plasticky, though not as thick and plasticky as, say, the Tarot of Sidhe. Nearly all 78 cards have a black background, and all cards are framed by a white border. LeFanu has trimmed his cards of borders, but I rather like the white border, so I'm leaving mine for now, though I did decide to trim the pointed corners because they made handling the deck painful. I can see why having sharp, fang-like corners is a fun idea for a vampire deck, but it isn't fun when you're trying to shuffle the thing! In typical Place style, the majors are fully illustrated, the pips are sort of 'semi' illustrated -- the pips are at the top of the card, and at the bottom is an illustration. Place does not integrate the pips into a scene, but has them floating above the scene. Finally, the courts are a curiosity, being made up mostly of friends of Bram Stoker, with a few characters thrown in. I hope I draw a couple of them for you to examine during the week.
The companion book is also typical Place. It starts, as usual, with Place's examination of the history of tarot. Then there is an interesting look at the vampire in legend and art, a short biography of Bram Stoker, and a 24-page plot summary of Bram Stoker's novel, Dracula. This deck is called the 'Vampire Tarot', but it could probably have been called the 'Dracula Tarot', because most of the deck makes reference to the novel Dracula and some of the classic Dracula films, such as Nosferatu. The book continues with the usual sections detailing meanings of each of the cards, with, as usual, much more page space devoted to the majors than to the minors, and ends with a couple of sample spreads.
So let's take a look at my three least favourite and my three favourite cards from the deck:
|Vampire Tarot, Robert Place 2009|
I adore the Fool card, which shows the unsuspecting Jonathan Harker, with his mundane coat and hat and his little brief case, climbing the stairs to the entrance of Dracula's castle, on his way to do some basic paperwork. Little does he know! In the face of warnings from the locals, he carries on. It's a wonderful substitute for the tarot Fool. The 6 of Swords is also fabulous, Dracula making his way over the dark and stormy sea to land in Whitby, where he'll meet his obsession, Mina. Finally, a beautiful Moon card. I like it just because it is fantastically lovely, evocative and also sinister at the same time. Strikes the perfect note for me for a vampire tarot.
I look forward to exploring this deck more this week, but have to admit, I'm alone in the flat right now typing this, and no music or anything in the background, and I'm a little creeped out already. What a wimp!