There’s something about tarot cards that captures the imagination. The art delights the eye and the symbolism taps into your subconscious. Plus, everybody wants to understand the world and themselves a little better. So it’s no surprise that Tarot cards have made their way into the world of fiction. I’ve pulled together 4 of my favorite fiction books about tarot cards for your reading enjoyment.
Whether you’re a long-time believer in the power of tarot or just love a well-told story, these book recommendations are for you.
Note that the links are affiliate, which means you get to support me and these authors if you decide to buy one of their books. Pretty cool right?
1. Improbable Magic for Cynical Witches by Kate Scelsa
Published by Balzer + Bray, an Imprint of HarperCollins
This is a book about modern-day witches, set in Salem. But don’t assume you know what to expect. This story is a little bit cozy, a little bit magic, and a lot of real life growing up packed into just over 300 pages.
Structured around the major arcana, this book tells the story of two girls, a book, a coven and living with guilt. It completely captured my heart and my imagination. The first mention of tarot cards comes on page one, with an introduction to The Fool.
Be prepared. Once you read that first page, you won’t want to stop. So grab your deck, make yourself some tea, and settle in.
Get Improbable Magic For Cynical Witches from Bookshop.org or your local indie bookshop.
2. On the Bank of Oblivion by Emma G Rose
Published by Imperative Press Books
I wrote this one, so I won’t wax poetic about it. You’ll have to decide for yourself whether it’s great or not.
What I can tell you is that this book was written with the help of tarot cards. It features The Hanged Man on the cover, and that card pretty much sums up the struggle of the main character, Owen. He’s suspended and needs to choose between surrender and sacrifice.
Inside you’ll find plenty of tarot cards and a goddess you might not know from Greek Mythology. The first mention of an actual card appears on page 48, but I snuck in some earlier references in the chapter titles. Chapter one is “color wheel of fortune” referencing both the Wheel of Fortune and Owen’s artistic ambitions.
Get On the Bank of Oblivion from Bookshop.org or your local indie bookshop.
3. Play the Fool by Lina Chern
Published by Bantam, an imprint of Penguin Random House
This book is all about tarot. In fact, the first mention of the cards comes on page one and the Fool graces the cover. The main character, Katie True (yes that’s her real name) thinks in tarot cards, using their imagery to understand both people and relationships.
Despite all the tarot talk, this book is a thoroughly modern mystery, set in the suburbs of Chicago. There’s no fantasy and not much mysticism. You could imagine these characters running around your own small town.
If you read just the first page, you might worry that Chern is trying too hard to give her character a distinct voice. By the end of the first chapter you’ll be fully engrossed in the story.
Get Play the Fool from Bookshop.org or your local indie bookshop.
4. Magician and Fool by Susan Wands
Published by Spark Press
This is book one of the Arcana Oracle Series which features the adventures of a young Pamela Colman Smith, the artist behind the iconic Rider-Waite tarot card deck. (Don’t get me started on the injustice of her name not being attached to the cards she designed.)
This fantastical account reimagines the origins of modern tarot with fantasy elements. It won a 2023 IPPY Gold Medal for Visionary/New Age writing. Since this is a story about the origin of tarot, the first explicit mention of the cards happens later on. But on pages 12 and 13, Pamela’s friend Maud tells a fairy story featuring The Fool, complete with a cliff and a small dog.
The characters are a who’s who of the late 1800s. The author does have a tendency to introduce characters and settings with a paragraph of text about their history. Normally, this would bother me, but I found myself wanting to know more. How much of this story is fiction and how much is history?
Get Magician and Fool> from Bookshop.org or your local indie bookshop.
Bonus: My Favorite Non-Fiction Book About Tarot
If all of this Tarot talk has you wanting to learn more about the cards and how people use them, check out Lessons From the Empress: A Tarot Workbook for Self-Care and Creative Growth from Cassandra Snow and Siri Vincent Plouff. It’s a book for anyone who is, or wants to be, creative. Plus it gives a modern, in-depth look into the tarot.
What’s Your Favorite Fiction Book About Tarot Cards?
Did I miss your favorite work of fiction about Tarot cards? Help me grow my TBR pile by sending me an email or shouting out on Twitter. Right now, I’m on track to read everything in my TBR by somewhere around my 358th birthday, so one more can’t hurt.