If you love fantasy, it's hard not to fall in love with the imagery on this lovely deck from the illustrator Lisa Hunt and writer D.J. Conway. The Fantastical Creatures Tarot features beings of myth and legend from all over the world. Stock fairytale figures such as dragons and unicorns rub shoulders with more obscure creatures like the Simurgh, a half-bird, half-mammal creature from Persian lore. Pagan deities, including Neptune and Circe, and legendary figures such as the Sumerian hero Gilgamesh also make an appearance in this eclectically-inspired deck.
Hunt also successfully varies mood and atmosphere. Cards like the Page of Pentacles, featuring a cute flower fairy, have a whimsical feel, while the hunched gray figure of the Minotaur on the 10 of Wands gives a suitably solemn feeling of weary oppression. Others are somewhat frightening or disturbing, such as the the glaring figure of Medusa as the Hanged Man. Still others shine with an surreal beauty, such as the wise Russian Firebird in The Star card. (Tip: Search for the deck's official website. There are images of all of the cards.)
This deck shares some of the peculiarities of previous Hunt/Conway collaborations, including a stated Air/Wands and Fire/Swords association and retitling The Devil card as Chains. In other respects the deck follows standard R-W structure, but does not echo R-W in the illustrations. There is no nudity, and this should be an inoffensive deck for all audiences.
Some have stated disappointment that the deck did not come with a full-sized guidebook. However, the LWB provides more information than many similar booklets, and I think the limited size may have cut down on the filler found in many larger books. For each card Conway provides a brief description of the creature featured, a divinatory meaning, and a magical use. The magical use is a one or two sentence suggestion (i.e. "Use in protection spells.") which leave room for creativity for those who want to use this and is unobtrusive for those who don't.
I did have some problems with the LWB. The divantory meanings were often trite and less useful than the description above them. They also sometimes clashed with the description or even with the brief "cheat sheet" cards that come with the deck. Some of the descriptions also seemed to substitute personal or modern interpretations for traditional lore, which was not always immediately obvious. For example, The Lovers features a faun, which Conway describes as having the legs and ears of a deer, and more gentle temperament than the Greek satyrs. Other sources I've checked describe fauns as looking and behaving exactly like the goat-hooved satyrs. Conway seems to mistakenly be associating the words faun and fawn and also providing her own interpretation of the creature.
Overall, however, my disappointments with book did not lessen my enjoyment of the deck enough to warrant docking a star. I highly recommend this deck to all fantasy lovers and to any fan of Hunt's previous work.