Cruel Thing Tarot

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If there was ever a deck that attests to the big "tarot melting pot" of the 21st century, the Cruel Thing tarot might just be that deck. An Argentine artist with an Italian name, whose tarot illustrations definitely reflect the Japanese anime/manga style and show a strong symbolic influence of the 19th century British occultists, gets published by a Spanish cardmaker. (And, for what it's worth, we actually acquire this product ourselves through a German distributor.) Based on the Cruel Thing graphic novels by Vecchio and Argentine author Lean (that's apparently her full name, or at least her complete pen name), the majors and courts are dramatic in that cool, comic-booky kind of way. The stark, flat, limited color palette of black, white, and red creates a truly visceral effect. The minor arcana cards are only minimally illustrated -- but anyone familiar with the Waite/Smith tarot will immediately recognize the arrangement of the pips and the sparse-but-clear symbols to have been pulled directly from that deck. If you don't like the illustration style, or care for decks that are rather unflinching in their inclusion of darker symbology, then it's doubtful that this deck will grow on you. Otherwise, this baby is definitely worth a closer look.