Esmeralda Lenormand (Karla Souza, self-published) is a lovely little deck from Brazil. And little is the word: although not a mini, its cards are slightly smaller than standard bridge size. They are extremely vibrant, and have some fabulous partial lamination effects, such that certain elements in the cards really pop, an effect that is totally lost in the scans, unfortunately. Might have to dig out my video camera to do this deck justice...
While the standard
Lenormand people and objects are very clear on the cards, there are also
lots of additional elements and symbols layered in. For one thing,
there are little graphic elements intended to help people learn or
remember standard meanings. So, on the Storks we see a stock market
style graph pointing upward, for work prospects looking up, and a suitcase, for moving abroad.
The cards also give standard
Lenormand timings, for those that consider these useful. As far as I'm
concerned, predicting something in ten to twenty years is an exercise in
futility, but each to their own. Another addition which strikes me as not very useful is that of alchemical elemental symbols at the top of each
card. Basically, all cards with Hearts as their playing card suit are
associated to water, Clubs with earth, Diamonds with fire and Spades with air. Therefore, knowing these very standard associations, you don't need the extra symbol.
Pagan influences are clear in the images, too, with
Pentacles showing up on the Man and the Book. The Whips, with its broom
and black cat, is a cute nod to pagan iconography. And the Coffin,
with its Día de Los Muertos skull, is colourful and acknowledges
alternate cultural, spiritual beliefs. Another non-traditional aspect
of this deck that I like is its use of corvids on the Birds card, the
only deck I've seen with this.
Altogether, the deck is readable,
attractive and practical. It has a nice combination of traditional
elements with innovations to help the beginner. And it also has more
pagan and new age associations, which are non-intrusive enough that you
can take them or leave them. For its sheer prettiness and shininess, it
gets a big thumbs-up from me!