R E V I E W
by Maria Kuara
Lo Scarabeo / Llewellyn Publications
ISBN-10: 0738738786 / ISBN-13: 978-0738738789
Dimensions: 4.9 x 2.7 x 1.2 inches
TOP LINE (formerly Bottom Line)
One thing that I am not fond of in this deck is the way many of the cards depict black cats against a very dark background. I understand that the cats need to be black, and that a deck called "Black Cats Tarot" should have a mysterious look to it (which calls for dark colors). However, many of the cards are so dark that my eyes struggle to see the details. I don't know if this is due to the original art or the printing process -- or even if it varies from copy to copy of the deck. Examples include Strength, Death, The Devil, The Tower, the 8 of Cups, 5 of Pentacles, 2 of Wands, and 8 of Swords. On the 5 of Pentacles, I actually have to hold the card up to the light and put my nose up to the picture to see what is there.
I like the whimsical style of this deck and I look forward to doing some trial readings with it.
THE PUBLISHER'S PRODUCT SUMMARY
"This Rider-Waite-based tarot celebrates and honors the beautiful and magical black cats. Cleverly incorporating feline characteristics and legend into traditional tarot archetypes, this fanciful deck captures these creatures moving between worlds of reality and fantasy, the mundane and mystical. Disarmingly cute yet unmistakably wise, the black cats encourage you to explore your own animal nature."
According to the publisher, The Black Cats Tarot "is based on" the Rider-Waite-Smith tradition -- yet the cards are not what I would call "clones" of that model in any strict sense. For example, the 3 of Swords depicts not a heart pierced by swords but two cats sitting in the rain with their backs to each other, a sword stuck in the ground next to each cat, and a third sword lying nearby. The 4 of Swords does not picture a knight's tomb but a cat sitting on a bench with its leg bandaged.
Some of the cards bear little if any resemblance to the RWS model. For example, On the 10 of Wands, instead of a figure carrying a bundle of wands we have a cat in a cave holding one cat-headed wand while looking at 8 others. A 9th wand leans against a wall in the background. The LWB description gives the keyword "Accomplishment" and the description, "When we are about the [sic] attain what we have always desired, we are often overwhelmed by fear. This is the dark side of desire. Will we cross the threshold or remain outside?"
Interestingly, two of the cats in this deck are white. For The Fool, the LWB tells us "The White Cat represents freedom and purity. . ." On The World, a white cat appears to step out of a black "shell", symbolizing a new cycle and being "purged of our own psychic baggage."
APPEARANCE, SIZE, QUALITY
Card backs are reversible and feature the head of a golden-eyed black cat wearing a gold tiara. Design elements on the backs are repeated at the top and bottom of the card faces.
I would describe the finish as "semi-glossy" rather than glossy or matte. The cards faces have black borders. Majors have the number at the top and the bottom. Pips have the number at the top and the suit symbol at the bottom. Courts have the suit symbol at the bottom and a helmet-like shape at the top for the Knave, a horse head at the top for the Knight, a crown for the Queen, and a patriarchal cross on globe for the King.
Maria Kuara's cats have humanoid bodies with cat heads. Because of that, they have a somewhat "cartoon" feeling. They are, for the most part, not clothed. It is sometimes possible to tell from the pose or posture that a cat is intended to be male or female, but there are no obvious sexual distinctions.
In accordance with the FTC Guidelines for blogging and endorsements, I hereby disclose that this product was provided by the publisher for free. Other than the occasional review copy, I receive no monetary or in-kind compensation for my reviews. The substance of my reviews is not influenced by whether I do or do not receive a review copy.