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The Tarot Cafe, Volumes 4–7

Review

The Tarot Cafe, Volumes 4–7

written and illustrated by Sang-Sun Park

Reading The Tarot Café might as well be a mystical experience. Its artwork is opulent and gorgeous, and its storyline is brimming with magic, symbolism and new takes on old archetypical legends. It’s a thoroughly engrossing read, and it’s probably best to sit down and read the whole series back-to-back to really get lost in it.

Pamela, who’s been alive since the Middle Ages, is still reading Tarot cards for anyone who stops by her café. Volume four starts with her reading for a ghost who died trying to express his love for a girl. Later, she gets involved with a singer and a leanan sidhe. The leanan sidhe gives fame, talent and inspiration to an artist, only to take his or her life abruptly when the height of success has been reached. It explains why so many talented people die so young. Can Pamela save the singer’s life without facing the wrath of the preternatural leanan sidhe?

As occult creatures continue to seek out Pamela for help, Pamela’s own forgotten memories of her past swell up. Bit by bit, we learn how she came to be immortal. She flashes back to medieval Scotland, to a dragon who loves her, to a monk who is obsessed with her, to a revered sage who is actually evil, and to a charge of witchcraft that almost causes her to lose her life. All of these things are interconnected.

The seventh and last volume brings it all together brilliantly and with an emotional upheaval. Pamela has to enter Hell (with nods to the work of Dante Alighieri, John Milton and Hieronymus Bosch) to confront a devil who’s been causing chaos since the dawn of time. This same devil is connected with her past and torment. She hopes that by confronting him she can finally meet peace and pass into the afterlife. It is sad to see such an exhilarating series end after only seven volumes, but fans can be aware there’s also a novel version from TOKYOPOP, which includes drawings from Sang-Sun Park.

The Tarot Café is a thrill to read for anyone into archetypes and mythology. It also pays serious attention to fairy tales and other haunting stories that stay in the minds of humans. There’s a vast scope of storytelling in these seven books. Topping it all off is Park’s artwork, which adds to the atmosphere and melancholy. With an alluring story, interesting characters and beautiful art, The Tarot Café is a great package. It doesn’t take a psychic to realize this is an amazing manhwa series.

Reviewed by Danica Davidson on December 13, 2005

The Tarot Cafe, Volumes 4–7
written and illustrated by Sang-Sun Park

  • Publication Date: December 13, 2005
  • Genres: Manga
  • Paperback: 184 pages
  • Publisher: TokyoPop
  • ISBN-10: 1595328149
  • ISBN-13: 9781595328144