Long time readers of the Witches' Almanac will recognize the prints in this coloring book from previous magazine editions. It's not necessary to know the magazine to appreciate the selection of images grouped as woodcuts, constellations, planets, creatures, Egyptian, Americas and Tarot. The variety is unusual in a coloring book where single themes usually dominate. The level of coloring difficulty varies a lot as well. Each section has text providing some additional information but many of the images remain unattributed.

The woodcuts are historical European prints of witchcraft scenes. In the first images, the lines are thicker than usual because the lines of the early woodcuts were. The effect is that these are the least coloring book-like pictures I have seen in a coloring book. The design is stark and graphic. As woodcut technology improved, the images become more detailed, the lines thinner. It's best to keep the historical context in mind when viewing these images. In one picture, witches and devils sit at the table with a baby on the dinner platter. Popular stereotypes of the flying witch and witches riding on dogs are depicted. Other unseemly pictures show a corpse rising from the grave and a clothed woman fondled by a devil in the field. These aren't dirty pictures but it seems almost wrong to find them in a coloring book.

The constellations and planets sections are inspired by ancient myths named in the patterns of the sky. These pages have a similar style to the woodcuts but have the open background we are more familiar with in coloring books. The next section, creatures, shows simple mythical beings that are easy to color. The Egyptian chapter is notable for the sudden shift in style. Keeping in theme with the previous creatures, these figures are human-animal hybrids. Moving on to the Americas, we see the modern Calavera Catrina of José Guadalupe Posada, the ancient Mayan Calendar and the Aztec influenced Virgin Guadalupe. The text for the Americas is good to read if you need some background. The last section on the Tarot gives us the 21 Rider-Waite Major Arcana plus the Aces. I like the idea of being able to redo the cards to one's liking. Compared to the deck I own, the lines are thicker and some of the images darker than on an actual Tarot card. I wish there was a lighter hand on the black ink.

The Witches' Almanac Coloring Book's assortment of pictures offers some unusual styles and a degree of difficulty to suit different moods and skill levels. Pages are thick and can be framed. While parents of smaller children could select some age appropriate images I would advise against giving this coloring book to young kids. Recommended for mature coloring enthusiasts.

~review by Larissa Carlson Viana

Art Director: Gwion Vran
Text: Nevrom Ydal
The Witches' Almanac, 2015   
unpaginated, $12.00

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