I will finish up my elements ramble later this week, but before I do, I want to review the second of my recently arrived decks: the Anna K Tarot. I feel a bit guilty about posting two deck reviews in a row like this,* because I really want to bring some diversity to the content of ye olde blog. But the thing is, my deck reviews are also unboxing posts. They’re my first impressions of each deck (which is why I haven’t posted any reviews of decks I owned before I started the blog), and I sort through, write the reviews, and take pictures before I allow myself to work with a new deck. I don’t even shuffle the cards until after the review is done.
And, well, I really wanted to start working with this beautiful, beautiful deck. So review time it is.
In order to avoid the blurriness and glare that have plagued my deck reviews of late (or, rather, always), I took the pictures for this review on a windowsill on a sunny morning. I think it worked, and everything looks a bit clearer. So hopefully, this review will be more visually helpful to you than, say, my previous one.
The deck comes in a large, sturdy box. The cards themselves are of good quality, and are on the small side; readers with dainty hands should have no problems whatsoever with shuffling this deck. The LWB was clearly written with a lot of care; it comes with a description of the deck’s making, a full-page black-and-white photocopy of each card, divinatory meanings and interpretive tips. There are also blank pages for journaling, as well as a handful of excellent spreads printed at the back of the book.
The artwork on this deck is beautiful. It has a lovely, realist quality about it, and the characters (pinched faces and all) feel like, well, people. They feel real and relatable.** The card images are sharply drawn (so much so as to be almost harsh) and richly colored. In short, they’re a delight to look at, and I could while away my hours simply sitting and sorting through this deck.
I don’t know if you can see it in the picture above, but the Wheel of Fortune is being turned by the hand of an ephemeral old woman. What a beautiful touch.
The Minors are named Rods, Cups, Pentacles, and Swords. All in all, they’re very close to RWS imagery, but a few noticeable changes really set the tone of the deck. I love the road signs in the Two of Rods. And in the Ten of Swords, the fact that the figure in the card has stood back up and started on her journey again (somehow, with this deck, I get the impression it’s a woman) really speaks to me. What a lovely reinterpretation of the card.
We see innovations like this throughout the deck, and for me, those changes are what make the deck shine. I love that the Lovers depicts an old couple, rather than a young one. All of the Knights in the deck are unmounted, galloping about on their own two feet to accomplish their adventures. And several cards in the deck (such as the Star, Moon, Sun, and World) are entirely unpopulated, showing pure landscapes. Really, it’s breathtaking.
And here are a few more cards where I really appreciate the twist that the author gave to traditional RWS imagery:
Isn’t that Eight of Swords a knockout? Frankly, I think the entire suit of Swords is really well done in this deck. Of course, I’m rather partial to the Swords to begin with, but still.
One thing I find striking about this deck is that every now and then, a character is facing a different direction than I would have expected. The driver of the Chariot is racing away from us, deeper into the card. The same goes for Temperance. And this play with the directionality of the cards adds an interesting dimension to the deck.
And finally, I’ll leave off with the four Aces, which I think are some of the most skillfully wrought cards in this deck. It’s hard to get an Ace right, because there’s so little to work with, but the Anna K Tarot does a beautiful job with each of them. All of the Aces depict young women acting in the spirit of their respective suits. For beginner readers, this may prove helpful, as it humanizes these cards in a way that you don’t see in many other decks. (I love the Ace of Cups in particular.)
I love this deck so much. I have nothing but good things to say about it–no critique, no mention of cards I dislike or themes I think could have been better expressed. Frankly, this deck is a joy and a perfect addition to my collection. It reminds me a lot of the Morgan-Greer Tarot in its reworking of traditional RWS images with simple, clear artwork; and like the Morgan-Greer, I think it will provide excellent readings for strangers and querents unfamiliar with Tarot imagery. This would also be a magnificent deck for anyone just starting out with Tarot.
*Especially because there are more reviews to come. I have three decks on the way as gifts from friends: the Hermetic Tarot by Godfrey Dawson, the Golden Tarot (Visconti-Sforza), and the breathtaking Prisma Visions Tarot. Needless to say, I’m in love with all of them.
**My internet browser is telling me this isn’t a word, but surely it is. Am I spelling it wrong? Is it “relateable”? “Relatible?” “Reaolaatieaeable?” Ah, whatever. “They feel real, and I am able to relate to them.” There. That fixes it.