By Katy Hays
Publication Date: November 1, 2022
Ann Stillwell is only too happy to leave her small life in Washington State behind and start a new chapter working at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. But when she arrives, her position is no longer available. However, she’s quickly enticed to work as a research assistant at The Cloisters, an adjunct Medieval museum and gardens, complete with poisonous plants.
Once Ann enters the world of The Cloisters, she’s immediately pulled into the personalities and intrigues at the museum. The curator, Patrick, who saved her from a defeated return home, with his almost unhealthy obsession of Renaissance-era divination. Rachel, the wealthy and enigmatic researcher who will do almost anything to get ahead in Academia. And Leo, the gardener with a questionable moral compass. At first a non-believer in Tarot and divination, when Ann makes the discovery that Patrick has been searching for, she will have to decide just how far she’ll go to make her own future.
I was drawn to this novel because the storyline revolves around Tarot. Not something I run into that often, unless it’s used as a tool for a character. The historical details are immersive, from the history of divination to general art history to the use of Medieval plants as both poisons and medicinally. The characters are complex and skirt through shades of gray. None of them are 100% likable but there were subtleties that I could sympathize with, even in the most antagonistic characters.
This novel pulled me in and didn’t let me go. It was just that good. I realize I’m not quite doing it justice by calling it “good.” Immersive, intriguing, thought-provoking; those descriptors might be more apt. When I realized it was a debut, call me blown away. The writing style is incredibly self-assured, more in the vein of a seasoned novelist. And honestly, I only realized this is a debut author when I went back to see what else she had written because I wanted to read more of her work.
This one is a winner and I hope it gets the attention it deserves.
5/5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Thank you to NetGalley and Atria books for providing the ARC. I’ve left my review honestly and voluntarily.
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