3 on a theme: tarot cards collage

3 on a theme: tarot cards

I often read 3-5 books at a time, and it’s always interesting when I come across a handful of books that include a shared theme. In this case, 3 books I read within the past month included tarot card readings, for better or for worse.

The Dark Beneath the Ice by Alexandra Berube used tarot cards in the way I’m used to – as a portent of evil. This is mostly because I like reading horror novels, and any occult or New Age ends up indicating evil. The main character, Marianne, makes a new friend whose mother is a psychic. Of course, Marianne is experiencing some pretty horrific visions, and halfway through the reading, the psychic halts everything and tells Marianne to stay away from her daughter, and to make a special appointment to give Marianne a good cleansing.

In You Know Me Well co-written by Nina LaCour and David Levithan, the tarot cards help the two protagonists on a journey of self-discovery. Mark and Kate are both gay teens: Mark is chasing after a friend who isn’t out of the closet yet, and Kate is running from a girl she’s loved from afar. Their visit to the psychic, at the behest of Kate’s crush, links Kate and Mark together and also prompts them to look at themselves before looking toward their prospective love interests as the problem.

Finally, Janet Gurtler’s Who I Kissed also has a tarot card reference. While the details of the reading are not as specific as in the first two books, the main character Sam’s Aunt Allie asks Sam to do some introspection before she’ll agree to do a tarot reading (she also does an angel card reading later on). Throughout the book, the idea of signs from beyond comes into play, as Sam discovers items belonging to her dead mother at opportune times and other characters find beloved objects. I really appreciated that the tarot readings offered less guidance than the aunt did.

I’ve read a number of other YA books that involve the use of tarot cards, but never three books so close together that use them in such different ways. In fact, I have a set of tarot cards made for Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunters series.

I’d love to have the set for Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Boys series… perhaps I’ll treat myself for my birthday!

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