Top critical review
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Lovely, but short on meaning
on October 14, 2002
I ran across pictures of this deck online, at [...] and thought, "How lovely!" A week or so later, I remembered seeing it in some store quite a while ago and thinking, "How vapid." I was right on both counts; as other reviewers have noted, this deck is quite pretty. Also as they've noted, it's a little shallow in terms of symbology. Basically what you get are a lot of pretty watercolors of women, draped or partially draped in flowing dresses and other pieces of cloth, and not a lot of story. If you just look at the pictures, it's almost impossible to tell most of them apart.
I would not at all recommend this deck to an inexperienced reader. You pretty much have to know the cards well enough to read them without significant visual cues to stir your intuitions. I've been reading for ten years, so I'm fine with it, and I get some very insightful, enjoyable stuff out of it, but I'd never use it as a teaching deck.
A couple aspects of the art bother me. The placement of the women on the page is often very odd; many of them appear to be floating in space, seated on an invisible couch or leaning on invisible supports. Probably what happened was, the artist had models pose and chose not to draw whatever sticks of furniture they were posing on, but it makes for some disconcerting compositions. Additionally, the kings are all extremely Neptune-looking (which is fine with me) and all paired with a very young girl on the card in a position of powerlessness. It's unbalanced within the deck, because the queens certainly aren't ordering young pageboys around or bending them backwards over their laps. Additionally, I don't feel like the emotion there applies to all the kings, so it's just plain inaccurate.
Other cards are striking--Strength, for example, takes a very bold approach, with a man both riding and overpowering a male centaur. It's both elegant and very violent, and distinctive as can be. The woman on the five of Pentacles is seated, looking down introspectively at a daffodil she holds with a remarkable expression of hurt and disappointment; the impression is not one of starvation so much as rejection. It works, particularly in the romantic mood set by the entire deck.
I rate this deck so low only because I think that for the vast majority of Tarot students, it's going to be virtually inaccessible. If you want a beautiful deck with some more or less unorthodox interpretations, I'd recommend Hertz's Fantastical Tarot; if you're interested in historically-driven decks, the Scapini Medieval Tarot simply can't be beat. It's gorgeous, terrifically complex, and still a little quirky. If you're an adept enough reader that you can see cards in your head without even laying them out, though, and you'd like a deck with images that are sheer pleasure to look at, the flowing, elegant pastel work in the Art Nouveau Tarot will suit you well.