A Review of “Mapping the Hero’s Journey with Tarot”

Arwen Lynch’s Mapping the Hero’s Journey with Tarot: 33 days to Finish Your Book showed up in my mailbox unannounced. My mother sent it as a “just because” present—she knew I was putting together a workshop on Tarot and storytelling and thought this book might interest me. Telling stories; Hero’s Journey; what could be a better fit?

Let me start by saying this book as chock full of great ideas, tips, and hints. Lynch includes terrific examples, exercises, and resources. Her breezy, conversational writing style makes for an easy read. It has the bones of a great book.

The book is based on Lynch’s 33-day eCourse, which is reflected in the title. However, in the introduction she writes, “This book is designed to give you thirteen primary lessons plus a few extras to help you discover how to use the system of Tarot as a way to plot your fiction.” (p. 1) Nothing in the 21 chapters fits a 33-day schedule as the book is laid out currently. I would have found it helpful to have the 33-day template to look at and adapt to my own timetable.

The transition from workshop to book also demonstrates one of the pitfalls of self-publishing. Mapping the Hero’s Journey could have used a good editor. There are spelling errors, some of which look like reliance on an automated spell checker. There are also several formatting issues including inconsistent typefaces, paragraphs on the wrong side of headers, and descriptions of spreads that do not match the diagrams. There are also some issues with documentation. Referencing other authors’ works in a workshop format it is quite different from the way you document such references in a published work. It also would also be helpful if Lynch’s excellent resources were collected into a single bibliography rather than scattered throughout the book.

Along with the resources, I want to highlight some of the other good things Lynch gives the reader. In her section on the Court cards she shows how they can designate ages and stages of life without regard to gender. The same section also contains some excellent exercises. For each stage of the Hero’s Journey she provides a template that can serve as a jumping off point if you find yourself getting stuck. I also appreciated that she kept the section on card meanings brief. She provides just what you need to know about the cards should you get stuck while working with them as a writing tool.

I would love to see Lynch correct the spelling, formatting, and documentation issues and rework Mapping the Hero’s Journey for a second edition because it contains a lot of good information, exercises, and advice. Do take a look at her website: https://tarotbyarwen.com.

Mapping the Hero’s Journey with Tarot: 33 Days to Finish Your Book. Arwen Lynch. Arwen Lynch-Poe, 2017.

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