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Review: Llewellyn’s Complete Guide to Tarot

Disclaimer: I received an eARC from netgalley in exchange for a review. I also purchased a copy for my library.

If it’s one thing I know in reviewing books it’s “don’t judge a book by it’s cover.” I’ve said this before and I’m saying it now. Llewellyn’s Complete Book of Tarot by Anthony Louis is a great book, filled with wonderful tarot tidbits for all tarot enthusiasts. However, this is NOT a complete guide. Louis even states this very clearly in his preface. Instead, this book takes the approach of guiding readers of all types into the broad spectrum of topics tarot contains. Louis sees the book as a complete course in tarot. Topics covered include: why study tarot; tarot history; tarot structure and the differences between RWS, Marseille, and Thoth; card uses; and the various meanings and correspondences the cards have.

What I liked: Louis has a great voice in his writing. There are many areas in the book that he made me laugh with his vernacular. The chapters are chock full of good information. As I read through the book, I found myself thinking about how “scientific” Louis makes tarot sound. He captures the essence of why we use the cards and has answers for many questions people ask about the origins. Louis isn’t afraid to talk about the cards’ Christian influences either (very few books touch on this subject). While describing each individual card, most books stick with meanings laid down by AE Waite or Aliester Crowley. Not in this tome, Louis includes a history of interpretation that dates back to Etteilla. Which is great for those of us who love doing meaning comparison and want to know how card meanings transitioned over time. Another aspect I enjoyed was the fact that Louis references many other authors and their works in the book. It’s like you are also getting to know the wider tarot community while learning about the cards.

What I didn’t like: There is so much in this book that it’s a quick catalogue of topics. Louis doesn’t go too deep with any one subject. Which is fine because otherwise this book would be huge. So, if you were looking for a true “Complete” guide to tarot, then look elsewhere.

Bottom Line: Llewellyn’s Complete Guide to Tarot is a great starter guide to the world of tarot. There’s a lot of good information in this book. I loved how it went towards the sciencey side of the divination tool. Louis. Anthony has a friendly voice which invites you into learning tarot and becoming a member of the tarot tribe.

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