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I have long been aware of artist Stephanie Pui-Mun Law through her work in a variety of arenas, primarily her work on a variety of collectible card games and role playing game campaigns. Six years ago she began working on a tarot deck, and every single minute was worth it. Ms. Law’s preferred medium is watercolor, and she is a mistress of the delicate lines and superb coloration that defines the best of this medium. Of course a tarot deck isn’t just about the artwork, it is also about the symbolism used and its ability to tell the story and evoke the right information in response to the question asked. Ms. Law clearly thought about the images and ideas she wished to convey, and did a superb job.

Unlike many decks, Shadowscapes is based on the classic Rider-Waite (Smith) rather than a completely new terrain, but contains many images incorporating animals. For example the suit of Wands features foxes, cats, and a badger; the Cups include a variety of fish, mermaids, and giant turtles (gorgeous!); the Swords are graced with elegant swans, butterflies and crows; and the Pentacles feature lizards, dragons, bugs and spiders. Each elemental realm is lush with appropriate flora and fauna integrated into the card symbolism.

The Companion book is also well done. I usually advocate exploring a deck on its own, eschewing the book as too formulaic and (often) plagued by poor writing. But Barbara Moore, a well-known tarot writer in her own right, formed a true collaboration with Ms. Law and created a book worth reading. There is an introductory section followed by a description of each card (with a full-page gray-scale image) accompanied by notes from Ms. Law.

Each card is elegantly drawn, with lush colors and rich imagery. This is an beautiful deck, one I highly, strongly, shout-it-from-the-rooftops recommend. If you know someone who likes tarot decks, I’d say they deserve a treat.

~review by Lisa Mc Sherry
Author: Barbara Moore
Artist: Stephanie Pui-Mun Law
Llewellyn Publications, 2010
Book, pp. 253, deck, 78 cards; $28.95
(Please see our other review, by Elizabeth Hazel, here .)

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