Recently I was given the opportunity to review The Halloween Oracle by Stacy Demarco and Jimmy Manton. I’d seen quite a bit of this deck in recent months as That Kentucky Witch does a daily Oracle pull from it, so I was delighted to get a chance to hold it in my own hands.
The description states “Unleash your inner monster and trick-or-treat your way into a connection with the most magical and scary night of the year: Halloween! Festivals of the Dead like Halloween have been celebrated for thousands of years across many different world cultures. They serve to honor those who have passed and to celebrate death as a natural part of life and an opportunity to welcome in a new beginning. During Samhain, the ancient Celtic festival from which Halloween originates, the veil between this world and the next was believed to be at its thinnest and so since the very beginning, Halloween has been an occasion for effective and potent divination―a chance to connect with “the other side” or get a glimpse into your future.
Now you can harness the eerie power of Halloween every night of year, encountering black cats, vampires, zombies, witches, werewolves, jack-o-lanterns, skeletons, mummies and characters from the Mexican Day of the Dead tradition (including Lady de los Muertos), exquisite candy skulls, and more! Each of the 36 richly illustrated cards has an accompanying meaning in the guidebook featuring rhyming couplets like those used in ancient storytelling as well as a message of divination for you based on an aspect of Halloween tradition.”
All in all, I really quite like this deck. The cards are beautifully sized, the detail on the back of the card is fun, and they’re very good print quality (good paper, good quality images) which is important to me with my background in graphic design, printing, and fine arts. I simply can’t stand decks (be they divination or games) with poor quality printing and flimsy paper.
The art follows a fun theme even if it gets hung up sometimes on recurring images (quite a few “skull of…” cards in this deck), and as a general comment, I really like the illustrators style. That said, it isn’t without issues of consistency. If I had to present a criticism for balance (and you really have to look for one with this deck), it’s that some of the cards don’t play well with the others artistically.
Two cards that quirk my eyebrow every time I pull them are Nightsong and Mummy, which are just so tonally different in coloring, style, and content as to pull me from the moment. While you could make an argument for the “Mummy” simply being a classic ‘Halloween monster costume,’ it begs you to consider what else constitutes “monsters” in the deck. Certainly the ghost (from Trick or Treat), Werewolf, and Zombie – but then you begin to wonder if the Witch is meant to be portrayed as a “monster” or “costume” as well… and things fall apart from there. No similar arguments can be made for Nightsong, and no amount of descriptive text in the handbook makes the art play nice with the others.
All in all? This is definitely a shiny thing and well worth adding to your collection. It’s a ton of fun if you’re a professional reader and work a lot of Halloween parties, and pretty friendly to young readers. Demarco and Manton did a great job with this one, and I hope to see them back one day with that Skull oracle they obviously are itching to make if the art from this deck is any indicator – I’d certainly add it to my collection if they did.
I took these photos against the interior of a beautiful and fun hooded jacket my partner got for me last Yule, alongside a rune set and bag made by one of my coven students. If they tickled your fancy, shoot me an email and I’ll pass on the info of where to purchase them.