I purchased this companion book to the Atavist Tarot as a matter of curiosity. My husband gave me the deck several years ago. I looked it over, then put it away since it lacked both beauty and usefulness as a working tarot. This past spring while packing for a move, I ran across it again.
Something said on a tarot forum piqued my interest enough to acquire the companion book of the Atavist Tarot.
Looking at the deck and the book, one can see that artist Sally Annett did not use traditional or even meaningful symbolism. (images are hazy or integrate photographs in a collage sort of way) I counted no less than 8 cards where she had used herself as a model. (see photos on the book)
The book itself claims 2 things: First that Ms. Annett knew nothing of tarot when she did her paintings for the cards, and second that she has been studying tarot for most of her life. Which is it? From what I see, I am tending give credence to the first statement.
Reading the companion book, one may see the usual division of the deck into it's suits. The Major Arcana and Minor Arcana have their own sections. Rowena Shepherd, in a wooden, and somewhat tedious way, provides card explanations, a few layouts that can be tried. She lays out the background of tarot, giving nod to her art history background, both dry and factual, with the occasional drip of of sheer speculation on tarot origins. Further, she ties in Qabala to the cards. Most certainly, Qabala is well known in relation to tarot, unfortunately Ms. Shepherd appears to not have a true understanding of it.
One of the things that strikes me most about this book is the impression it gives of information copied from other sources, very little in the way of original thought or new ideas.
The point being, choose another deck and other books if you want a real tarot and a quide to actually understanding it.