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Allegories of the Tarot Kindle Edition
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Allegories of the Tarot is exactly what it sounds like: a series of short stories based around the meanings of various tarot cards. For simplicity and the most obvious symbolism the book only focuses on the Major Arcana. Some of the stories feature a physical representation of their card while others focus on embodying the meaning behind their tarot inspiration. I am not an expert on the tarot, but I still could appreciate the theme that tied the stories together.
Reviewing an anthology is slightly more difficult than discussing a book or comic because the tone varies from author to author. However, Allegories somehow flowed together as a well-matched whole. The project ended up feeling like several beads strung together to form a beautiful necklace that were more amazing for being paired together. The genres represented vary from speculative fiction to horror to fantasy to light sci-fi to simple human interest/true life, but somehow none of them hit a sour note that jerked me out of my immersion into the work.
My favourite stories in Allegories of the Tarot were probably "On The Shoulders of Muses" by Jessica McHugh, "The Moon" by J.H. Sked, and "Transformation" by Timothy Smith, which are vastly different types of stories. However, all three touched a part of me affected by loss and opened me up to feelings I had suppressed. I also loved McHugh's SF feeling interpretation of inspiration and creative muses. I never considered that interpretation of the muses and was intrigued by her world.
Allegories of the Tarot is not an anthology for everyone as it explores a number of alternate universes and mystical ideas. However, if the concept of mysteries beyond the veil protecting this world from the next or realities we cannot fully explain intrigues you give these stories a read. You will come away refreshed and somehow better from the experience.
5 Unique Tarot Spreads out of Five
I enjoy anthologies, but one of my biggest complaints is the unevenness they often display. A collection may have several great stories, sprinkled among others that are less than great. Allegories of the Tarot is not one of that number. As I read, I bookmarked stories that struck me as especially stellar; then about halfway through, I realized I was marking nearly every one!
Before I started the book, my concern was that, with a relatively narrow theme (the Major Arcana of the Tarot) the stories might be too similar to keep my interest. The truth was anything but! The references to Tarot appear in many forms; some stories do involve fortune-tellers, or literal cards, but others work in more subtle allusions (like the little dog in Peter Giglio’s ‘On the Road to Devil’s Gulch’, and the Hanged Man story ‘Path of Sacrifice’ by Matthew Bryan, which illustrates its subject in a whole new way).
While most of the stories are supernatural, some have barely a whiff, like Timothy Smith’s moving ‘Transformation’ . There are fantasies both realistic (Catie Rhodes’ gritty ‘Justice’) and dreamlike (Samantha Henderson’s ‘L’Etoile Flamboyant’). Moods vary from eerie (the tremendously creepy ‘Hoarder’ by Patti Larsen) to romantic (Jordan L. Hawk’s ‘After the Fall’). Several pieces have unexpected twists, some bright (Eden Baylee’s ‘A Modern Affair’) and some darker (Laura Eno’s ‘Phoenix’). I suggest you not sit on the good furniture while reading Anne Chaconas’ ‘Reply All’, lest you laugh yourself into incontinence! And have tissues handy for J.H. Sked’s ‘The Moon’, heartbreakingly beautiful, a standout among standouts.
All twenty-two stories in this volume are, in a word, superb. I found myself scouring the Internet as I read it; every story made me want to go find more work by its author. The ultimate compliment I can give Allegories is to say that when I finished it, I thought how I envy those who haven’t read it yet. I recommend this book to lovers of Tarot, lovers of the paranormal, and heck, just lovers of a good story.
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