Created and illustrated by Alan Robert, colored by Jay Fotos; guidebook by Rachel Pollack
The Beauty of Horror Tarot
The Beauty of Horror Tarot is a very cool, very fun, and importantly, very usable tarot set. Author Alan Robert is the artist and creator behind the popular (and also very cool, very fun, and very usable) Beauty of Horror coloring books, as well as numerous graphic novels, and an awesome guided journal too. Not insignificantly, he is also the bassist and a songwriter for the alternative band Life of Agony, which has been performing since 1989.
The Beauty of Horror Tarot, which actually comes in two versions (more on that later), is a natural offshoot of the Beauty of Horror coloring books, especially the third volume. The Beauty of Horror 3: Haunted Playgrounds features a carnival setting that includes a fortune teller machine that warns, “fear your future.”
When I first saw the artwork for this tarot, I knew I would soon be adding it to my collection. I very much hoped the artwork would stay strong throughout the entire deck. Very glad to say, it does. The entire deck is brilliantly illustrated in Robert’s style, and for those of us who love horror, metal, dark art, and of course, tarot, it is a truly exciting deck.
The deck is structured as a traditional tarot, and includes the standard 78 cards, with Major and Minor Arcana. Clearly illustrated in the RWS tradition, each card holds quite true to imagery we all know, but human figures have been replaced by zombies, vampires, skeletons, ghouls, and other ghastly creatures. Though these characters are all presumably undead, they – as with all of Robert’s work – have come as much alive as any traditional figures. In fact, these cards are more expressive and have more artistic energy than the cards in many other decks. They are also fantastic illustrations for those of us who tend to bring humor and irreverence to our readings (likely we also don’t take ourselves or our lives overly seriously).
There are a few cards whose imagery immediately reminded me of some non-tarot things I love, and thus, endeared me right away to these cards that otherwise don’t always stand out to me… For example, in the Chariot, the mummy driving a coffin through a desert, eyes glowing, smoke billowing behind him among the pyramids, immediately made me think of Iron Maiden’s Eddie. As soon as I saw the Two of Swords, I was reminded of the weeping angels from Doctor Who. The figure in the card is not an angel or a statue (presumably it is a vampire) but clouds behind her almost form the shape of wings, at first glance. Her pose, the look on her face, and her sharp bared teeth, are all reminiscent of the sci-fi figure.
Recognizing or projecting familiar characters onto the cards could certainly enrich readings in interesting ways, and noticing similarities to characters from favorite music, horror movies, stories, legends, or literature, is part of what makes this deck so totally fun for me.
…the accompanying guidebook
Another concern I’d initially had when I first saw the set, was how well the accompanying guidebook would be written. Not a deal breaker for me, I’d have purchased the set no matter who the author was, but I was pleased to see Rachel Pollack had written the guidebook. As then expected, the guidebook is well-written, succinct, insightful, and enjoyable. Pollack provides a good, concise history of the tarot in her introduction. This will help newcomers to tarot start off with accurate, basic history of the cards. She has written about each card drawing upon her many years of experience and study – it ensures a good breadth of meaning for each card, while remaining brief. She has offered some tried-and-true spreads at the end, that will be very easy for new readers to begin with.
As always, I suggest allowing one’s own intuition and impressions to guide interpretations, but someone entirely new to tarot could easily pick up this deck and start reading effectively for themselves.
… and the packaging
The Beauty of Horror Tarot is packaged very nicely. It comes in a sturdy, well-constructed, matte black box. The well that holds the cards is solidly made – in some tarot sets, this kind of well often caves in upon itself, or peels or pops up (I have often simply removed such wells). This one seems like it will remain sturdy and intact. It is a pretty large well for the deck – it provides enough room if you want to put the cards in a velvet pouch, within the box. A red ribbon attached to the inside of the box makes removing the guidebook very easy, as the book rests at the top of the well perfectly, and the ribbon gets tucked beneath it.
The cards themselves are of a great, standard measurement, 67mm x 126mm – sized perfectly for my smaller hands. The cardstock is on the thin side. This does not bother me. The cards flex easily, don’t feel like they will too easily bend or crease accidentally, and they shuffle well.
Color Your Destiny
As I mentioned earlier, the Beauty of Horror Tarot is available in two versions. This one is Fear Your Future. If you can’t tell by now, I love it. I would absolutely highly recommend it. It’s a blast, really. Oh, and when I picked it up at my local bookstore, the young clerk saw it, looked closely at it, and exclaimed, “oh wow! how cool!” I think many others will feel exactly the same way when first encountering this set.
The other version is in a coloring book style, called Color Your Destiny. The uncoated cards are illustrated, but not colored in, and they are a larger size at 80mm x 150mm. I’m not a big coloring book person, first tried it some years ago when it was becoming a thing – but the Beauty of Horror coloring book series has great appeal to me. The Beauty of Horror: Color Your Destiny Tarot is an awesome idea, a perfect way to combine tarot, horror, and coloring. If coloring is art therapy for adults, then joining it to tarot reading is genius. There are other decks you can color yourself that came long before the Beauty of Horror: Color Your Destiny Tarot deck and have quite a different history, significance, and in some cases, purpose. This one of course, has all that horror goodness and graphic novel fun that I am pretty sure will engage users for a long a time.
Read user reviews or purchase online at Amazon: The Beauty of Horror: Fear Your Future Tarot Deck at Amazon
See more about the Beauty of Horror Tarot decks, and explore the Beauty of Horror Universe
See more at the publisher’s website: IDW Publishing
Interested in the artist who colored these cards? Visit the site of Jay Fotos.