, March 16, 2022
(view all comments by EllenSka)
Most witchy novels with a Tarot theme refer to the cards in passing, only enough to justify a Tarot card or two in the cover art. But in this fine YA novel, Irish writer Caroline O’Donoghue has made a Tarot deck a central character. Both O’Donoghue and illustrator Stefani Caponi are long-time Tarot practitioners, and it shows in the naturalness with which they incorporate modern witchcraft into this fantastical novel. It’s by far the best Tarot-themed novel I’ve read.
Other than the blatantly Hermione Granger-influenced artwork on the cover (by a different illustrator; too bad about that), I knew very little about it when I started it. The novel could have resolved as a standard mystery, with the weird happenings explained rationally by the end. Instead, it’s the launch of a new YA fantasy series.
The story is inventive and unpredictable, with distinct, well-defined central characters, and a few threads left untied to seed future books. Unlike the Harry Potter books, Christianity is acknowledged; one of the subplots concerns a fundamentalist Christian group that is a foil to our group of pagan friends, so expect this inclusive book to be banned by religiously defensive librarians and school districts.
Oh, and it’s all set in Ireland! I enjoyed looking up the pronunciations for the Irish names, such as Niamh (which is pronounced “neev”).
Anyway, it was a compelling, thoughtful, and unapologetic read, and I’m looking forward to revisiting these characters in book 2.