I must admit to a certain sense of excitement as I opened this deck. The artwork is beautifully subtle: delicate, quite minimalist, drawings emphasising light and shade highlighted with a touch of watercolour.
Animals feature heavily, replacing more traditional images of people. For example, the Magician is a monkey, which appeals to me hugely, and the Hermit is a bear, which makes a kind of sense in light of hibernation and caves. I was a little perplexed by the choice of a blue tiger for the Hanged Man, but the book explained the choice as representing an ability to spring into action once the decision has been made. Since I regard the Hanged Man as an opportunity to plan for when things start moving again, I can relate to this.
The Majors aren’t numbered and the book has no index, so if you aren’t familiar with the standard order and need to look something up, it may take you a little longer to find the entry. Personally, I do prefer my Majors to be numbered, if only to save me having to think about it.
The Minor Arcana also features a myriad of creatures including hares, deer, dogs, cats (big and small), wolves, lemurs, foxes, various birds and even a few humans too. I was sold once I spotted a hare, a creature for which I have something of a soft spot.
The accompanying book is comprehensive, offering keywords, as well as a lengthier description and often an explanation of the artist’s reasoning behind the imagery. There are also various correspondences included: numbers and associated plants for all the cards, astrology for the Majors and associated birth dates for the Minors. The birth dates are based on a personal system that doesn’t correspond to any that I’ve come across. My own birthday appears to fall in the Cups, which are elementally linked with water, whereas my zodiac sign is an Air sign. I’m not altogether convinced by this realignment, so it’s unlikely I will adopt it.
I haven’t really had the opportunity to try out this deck for readability as yet, but I do like the artwork very much. There is a touch of humour in the imagery and much of it has a story to tell. I particularly like the Nine of Cups with a very smug cat who has swallowed a canary and still has a tell-tale feather sticking out of its mouth. As for the natty, slightly louche fox in the Nine of Wands, who clearly has had some sort of comeuppance, I definitely wouldn’t trust him near my henhouse.
It’s a lovely deck and my only real concern is the card stock. It’s reasonably good quality and feels quite nice, but it isn’t the “proper” playing card stock of my working RWS. I doubt this deck would withstand the sort of heavy usage a professional reader would put their main deck through, so I’d reserve it for personal or light use.