Horror loving tarot readers are probably already familiar with some of the great Insight Editions decks that have come out catering to all corners of the genre and now they are releasing a deck featuring the most foundational monsters in movie history: The Universal Monsters Tarot Deck and Guidebook. I got my hands on a copy of this deck, illustrated by Joe Wilson with a guide book written by Casey Gilly, and it is absolutely beautiful! The minute you pick up the sturdy, embossed, box you know you have something special. With no detail spared the inside of the box is even designed as though you are opening Dracula’s crypt. With 78 uniquely designed cards, no monster is left behind. Occasionally in conceptual decks the minor arcana gets left behind with rather simple designs repeating over the suits, but that is not the case here.
If you are picking up this deck simply as a collection piece for your favorite creatures you will not be disappointed, but there is a lot to offer as a deck for readings as well. The traditional suits, Wands, Cups, Swords, and Pentacles, have been re-imagined as Candles, Crypts, Claws, and Castles–an alliteration lover’s dream! No doubt you will be able to find your favorite monster multiple times throughout the deck. I am particularly fond of the Creature From The Black Lagoon floating upside down on the Hanged Man card. Like the traditional Hanged Man art, the Creature floats serenely, unable to escape but unbothered by the inconvenience. My forever favorite card in the tarot, The Fool, is graced with Frankenstein’s Monster as the ultimate innocent embarking on a new journey filled with wonder, if completely empty of common sense. I am also delighted by the entire suit of Claws as a showcase of various monster hands, paws, bones, and wraps.
As a working tarot deck this is more than just a novelty. While the art on the cards is a unique re-imagining, the themes are carried through from the traditional art. The guidebook is comprehensive without being overly wordy and each entry lets you know who, what, or where is depicted on the card as well as how it can be read in both upright and reversed positions, or “in the light” vs “in the shadows” for the Minor Arcana cards. With just a couple of quick sentences for each card there is still plenty of room for readers to make their own interpretations of the cards if they choose to do so. The guide also lays out a few spread options including VanHelsing’s Cross and The Wolf’s Moon. The cards themselves are thick and smooth. Depending on your shuffling style (and hands size) they may take some breaking in, but are sure to hold up to frequent use.
Horror fans will find The Universal Monster Tarot Deck and Guidebook welcome in their homes as a coffee table conversation piece or a helpful addition to their divination practices.
The Universal Monster Tarot Deck and Guidebook will be available for purchase wherever books are sold starting July 11th, 2023, or you can pre-order your set here.