Book Review: “ The Magic of Tarot”

c.2024, various publishers, $19.00 to $30.00, various page counts

The planets say it’s going to be a challenging day. The cards showed you what to watch and what to avoid, but the news wasn’t all bad: You also noticed good luck on the way, so you’re prepared for that, too. It’s all in what you believe, and with these four new books, you can put a little magic in your life.

Having your cards read doesn’t have to involve a gauzy room or a crystal ball; in fact, with “ The Magic of Tarot” by Leanna Greenaway & Beleta Greenaway (St. Martin’s Essentials, $19.00), you can learn about your present and your future from the comfort of your kitchen table or living room chair. Here, you’ll see what each of the cards can mean, how to lay them out, how to interpret their meanings and positions, what tools to bring to your “toolbox,” and more. This is a simple book, it’s easy to use, and it includes both classic and modern cards in the instructions.

For readers who like a little true mystery in their lives, “ The Secret Life of Hidden Places” by Stefan Bachmann & April Genevieve Tucholke (Workman, $30.00) will be a delightful way to indulge. Filled with pictures, drawings, and stories that will thrill you, this book takes you on a tour of nefarious laboratories and workshops, curious miniature castles, weird houses, hidden rooms, secret societies and the people who created them all. If you’re particularly brave, put these places on your to-visit list this summer and see what happens.

And speaking of journeys, author Allyson Shaw takes readers on a trip through fens, forests, and folklore in search of the story of Scotland’s witches in her new book “ Ashes and Stones” (Pegasus, $28.95). Yes, you can visit the informal stone monuments that stand in Scotland to memorialize the women accused of witchcraft. Yes, you’ll want to read this book before you go, to understand the history and herstory of what happened centuries ago.

And finally, how about something very different?

When he was a young boy, artist Ai Weiwei learned that some books in his native country were forbidden to read. Chairman Mao decided what was permissible and what was not, and so Weiwei devoured what he could, which was mostly comic books and propaganda. In “Zodiac,” with Elettra Stamboulis and Gianluca Constantini (Ten Speed Press, $28.99), Weiwei shares the story of his life, woven with philosophy and the Chinese zodiac. It’s a tale of finding one’s self in the beauty of art and storytelling, as well as finding meaning in stories. Readers who appreciate graphic novels will love it; bonus, if you enjoy folklore.

So what if you have questions on crystals, ghosts or other magical or paranormal things? Well, you head for your favorite bookstore or library and peruse those shelves. Your librarian or bookseller knows about lots of books for you to read, absorb, use, learn from and enjoy. They’ll help you find what you need so go ahead, ask. The answer is in the cards.

— The Bookworm Sez