Deviant Moon Tarot companion book by Patrick Valenza

By Kate Large

Deviant Moon Tarot companion book | Patrick Valenza | US Games Systems | ISBN: 978-1572816879 

It’s almost inevitable that everyone who has ever purchased Patrick Valenza’s game-changing Deviant Moon tarot has said, or heard it uttered: “so where’s the companion book?”

Since its launch in 2008, the Deviant Moon has been one of the most talked-about decks of modern times, as fans endlessly pore over its haunting, marionette-like figures. What do the half-awake, half-dreaming faces mean? And what about the digital textures used throughout?

Deviant Moon fans so far have had to rely on the small booklet supplied with the deck, supplemented by snippets from Patrick himself, who’s a warm and endlessly-generous figure on social media. He has long indicated that the deck features details lifted from gravestones and abandoned buildings throughout Long Island and Brooklyn. Fans also know that Patrick was born with an unusually precocious artistic gift, and began preliminary work on the Deviant Moon as a young teenager – but it’s only with the publication of this book that we finally get the whole story.

4lbs and 3 years in the making

Deviant Moon book spread

And what a book it is: weighing in at more than four pounds and nearly three years in the making, US Games and Patrick have teamed up to create not an average tarot how-to, but a vast and sumptuous art book.

It’s sheer size is the first thing that strikes you. This is not a book you’ll slip into a small bag: it’s hefty. But once you’ve got over that, you delve in and immediately realise that size isn’t the only thing that’s supersized here: everything about this book is turned up to 11, to quote from the immortal This is Spinal Tap.

Every card in the deck is rendered in rich colour at full-page size, which in itself is an incredible treat for Deviant Moon fans. The cards aren’t small by any means, but the sheer amount of detail they contain means that sometimes, seeing them bigger really is better. Just exploring the images at such a size, and so beautifully printed, is a wonder. But what really gives this book depth, authenticity and meaning, is the backstory Patrick shares with us.

It turns out that you can’t tell the story of the Deviant Moon without telling the life of Patrick Valenza, and vice versa. The two are irrevocably intertwined, and so to understand the deck’s genesis, we also need to see some of Patrick’s earliest childhood art, charting its development into the genius we see today. As well as childhood art, the book also reveals unseen character sketches, alternative card ideas that didn’t make the cut, and of course, the buildings and gravestones whose images and textures pepper the deck.

As you’d expect, both upright and reversed meanings are given for each card, but there’s so much more. In addition, you might learn about how an image was inspired by a childhood dream, how a card was assembled from images of pieces of metal, how Major Arcana figures can be found in childhood form in the Minors and of course, learn about the legendary chess set Patrick created just for the Ten of Pentacles.

A tangible labour of love

Deviant Moon book spread

If you’re a confirmed Deviant Moon fan, you might think you already know a lot about this deck, but trust me – there’s far, far more to learn. If the deck is totally new to you, then investing in this book, along with a set of the cards, will see you on a journey of discovery that’s bound to bring you delight for years to come.

You can buy the book direct from Patrick for around USD40 plus shipping; this obviously isn’t one of the cheaper tarot books around and, be warned, shipping can as much as double the price outside of the US. But it’s so much more than ‘just’ a book: this is a tangible labour of love into which the author has poured his heart and soul, not to mention decades of work. For its part, US Games has done a fantastic job as publisher in backing Patrick’s creative vision and by justifying every penny you’ll spend on this book.

It might be more than a tad unwieldy, but this is every inch a luxury, heirloom publication, from the crackle-glaze cover to the brilliant, fake-advert endpapers and above all, the quality of the paper stock and the printing. Every character from the Deviant Moon comes alive with colour and as a fan you can spend hours absorbed, not just in the book, but in the brilliantly-realised esoteric universe Patrick has created.

The saying goes that good things come to those who wait – and this is so much more than a good thing. It’s a unique, beautiful and important thing, epitomising what can be achieved when a creative genius with a truly unique idea is given the time and space to express that idea by a supportive publisher.

Needless to say, the unstoppable Patrick Valenza has another project in the pipeline with US Games this year, and we can’t wait to see what he has in store for us next. Watch this space!