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The Cloisters by Katy Hays
Gothic fiction

The Cloisters


We love supporting debut authors. Congrats, Katy Hays, on your first book!

by Katy Hays
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Quick take

You may want to dust off that art history degree or check your star chart while reading this story of tarot & museums.

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When Ann Stilwell arrives in New York City, she expects to spend her summer working as a curatorial associate at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Instead, she finds herself assigned to The Cloisters, a gothic museum and garden renowned for its medieval art collection and its group of enigmatic researchers studying the history of divination.

Desperate to escape her painful past, Ann is happy to indulge the researchers’ more outlandish theories about the history of fortune telling. But what begins as academic curiosity quickly turns into obsession when Ann discovers a hidden 15th-century deck of tarot cards that might hold the key to predicting the future. When the dangerous game of power, seduction, and ambition at The Cloisters turns deadly, Ann becomes locked in a race for answers as the line between the arcane and the modern blurs.

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Why I love it

I have always found tarot cards strangely appealing. I’m not superstitious, and I don’t believe in divination, but I’ll admit it: I’ve played tarot cards a few times with my friends.

Okay, more than a few times.

We pour a glass of wine, someone suggests a quick reading . . . and I think, why not? But what never fails to astound me is that every time—and I mean, every time—the cards are spot-on. Work issues, relationships, the exact-advice-I-needed-that-day . . . it’s baffling. Inexplicable.

So I was utterly delighted to get my hands on an early copy of The Cloisters, a book about several ambitious researchers in New York City who are on the hunt for the elusive truth of ancient tarot. They have much to gain if they can unlock the mysteries ahead of them, and even more to lose if they fail. As a long and stifling summer transpires, their cutthroat pursuit of the truth—and each other—begins to fester. No one and nothing can be trusted—not even the rare deck of tarot cards the researchers eventually track down.

It’s hard to believe this is Katy Hays’s debut. The confident voice, the clever crafting of the narrative, and the realness of the characters’ motives and longings all result in a story that we’d expect from a seasoned author.

The Cloisters is not to be missed but you may be tempted to turn a few cards yourself while reading, so keep a tarot deck close.

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