I think this is going to be a 'marmite' deck - you'll either love it or hate it. I love it. The deck and book set comes in beautiful packaging which would make an excellent addition to your collection or a lovely gift for someone else.
The images are loosely based on the Rider-Waites which helps guide you to the meaning of the cards behind all the crazy images. The suits are renamed to fit the Halloween tradition: Pumpkins, Ghosts, Bats, Imps but the Major Arcana have retained their original names.
The deck itself is made from very good card stock, nice and thick whilst not too stiff or difficult to shuffle and, unusually for decks issued by US Games, they are not laminated so you don't have that overwelming plastic smell that you usually get. The cards have a nice, smooth, pleasant feel and actually feel like card rather than plastic.
Each card features a Halloween character for example the Empress is Frankenstein's Bride; the Magician looks like Gomez Adams here but even though the characters are cartoon-like, they retain the symbolism present in the Rider-Waites for example - Gomez is still in the classic magician pose 'as above so below' even though he is pulling a rabbit out of a hat rather than brandishing the customary wand...
The deck is very bright - lots of white, orange, reds, greens, yellows with black borders. Although on a first glance it might seem that this is a collector's deck only and not for serious reading, look again and you will find lots to interpret here - the white lillies, red roses, pomegranates they all make their appearance. The position of the characteres and the others around them also link to the esoteric meanings of the cards.
So, it's fun, it's kooky but can you read with them? Yes. Get into it, have a really good look at the cards, and you will find that apart from the theme, most of the RW symbolism is still there. There have been many discussions about this deck on Tarot Forums and it is agreed that this deck could be used for 'serious' readings as well as lighthearted ones.
I liked the book that came with it, I thought that for the extra few quid, it would be worth having the set and I was not disappointed. The book contains quite a lot of useful information although you do have to know a bit about Tarot symbology in general.
Can you use these as a beginner? Why not? Get some books on the Tarot based on the Rider Waite and yes, you could do it easily. Is this a deck you could use all the time for readings? Yes definitely - the little cute black cat that appears on every card reminds you of the journey of self-discovery that you are on and you can use it to track your personal journey.
Overall, I think the creators of this deck have acheived two things - creation of a deck that is excellent for collections and for those who use their cards for reading. A really good investment.