First of all: this is *not* tarot. Also, this is not your "usual" playing cards system with "traditional" divinatory meanings, because this doesn't even exist. So if you expect a book on traditional cartomancy or a tarot-like system, this will greatly disappoint you. Don't waste your time.
That said, if you want a system that is innovative, unique and different from everything you ever saw before, this is the book to get. Really. The Playing Card Oracles is one of the rare divinatory books that actually think outside the box. It teaches you things you didn't know. It doesn't half-assedly recycle knowledge. It gives you something new.
The book is amazing - an interesting mix between images, poetry, fairytales (all original), divination... and it all fits in perfectly. Ana Cortez' writing style makes you feel as if you were talking to her. I must have read this book more than three times already and i never got tired of it. It always gives me food for thought. Also, the way it teaches you to read common playing card decks, usually used for games, is amazing. Forget those shallow, parlor game divinatory meanings that are only applicable to one single situation. The meanings taught by Ana Cortez are intuitive and rich. They mix numbers, colurs, images. And they even include Geomancy, that is a fantastic addition to the system.
It's not "Cartomancy of Dummies". You need to read the book, play with the cards, study. See what works for your and what doesn't. Ana isn't inflexible or bossy: she gives you the basic meanings, but you are encouraged to come up with your own. This book really explores the world of the playing cards - it's legends, it's mysterious history and it's usage as an oracle. It's a complete system on it's own - what you cannot learn from the book, you'll learn from the cards themselves.
As for the cards, they are very beautiful. Some pictures are, indeed, disturbing, but that's what they are meant to be. It might take a while for you to get used to this images. They are evocative, rich and powerful. Many people have told me, while i read for them, how beautiful they found this deck - disturbing images and all. Don't get put off simply because it doesn't conform to the standard definition of beauty. Give it a change, and this deck will certainly grow on you.
It's sad to see that some people misunderstood the purpouse of this book, and rated it badly because of it's greatest feature: the fact that it's different from all other playing card books out there. The fact that it was not made to be a pale companion to the tarot. The Playing Card Oracles is a very interesting system, and unfortunately, a very underrated one.