Maeve’s strangely astute tarot readings make her the talk of the school, until a classmate draws a chilling and unfamiliar card—and then disappears. After Maeve finds a pack of tarot cards while cleaning out a closet during her in-school suspension, she quickly becomes the most sought-after diviner at St. Bernadette’s Catholic school. But when Maeve’s ex–best friend, Lily, draws an unsettling card called The Housekeeper that Maeve has never seen before, the session devolves into a heated argument that ends with Maeve wishing aloud that Lily would disappear. When Lily isn’t at school the next Monday, Maeve learns her ex-friend has vanished without a trace. Shunned by her classmates and struggling to preserve a fledgling romance with Lily's gender-fluid sibling, Roe, Maeve must dig deep into her connection with the cards to search for clues the police cannot find—even if they lead to the terrifying Housekeeper herself. Set in an Irish town where the church’s tight hold has loosened and new freedoms are trying to take root, this sharply contemporary story is witty, gripping, and tinged with mysticism.
All our Hidden GiftsFeatured
As she spends time in there cleaning, she finds some treasures - a 1990s mix tape, a cassette player, and a deck of tarot cards. Maeve decides to learn to read them, and she finds that, unlike Italian, she has a knack for understanding them. At school, she begins to give tarot readings, until one day, she gives a reading to her former best friend, Lily, that ends in a fight and a terrible wish.
When Lily disappears, Maeve worries that she was somehow involved, and her search for answers will lead her down a frightening rabbit hole, where history is destined to repeat itself in terrible ways.
What I loved: This was darkly captivating, and I found it impossible to put down. The writing flows so smoothly and with such a great pace that it keeps the pages turning quickly. This was a mystery that needed to be solved, and the book keeps the reader hooked on each small piece of information revealed, all the way to the explosive ending. Unpredictable, the story took twists and turns I didn't expect, but which came together to make sense in retrospect - a very well plotted book.
There were some themes that I found particularly intriguing and thought-provoking around bullying, friendship, hate and prejudice around race and sexual orientation both clearly expressed and microaggressions, balance in the world, the self-confidence of youth to ignore those that are helping, religious fanaticism, and the meaning of sacrifice. This was more than just a campy supernatural thriller/horror read, and the infusion of humor and deeper themes really pushed this read into a more powerful one.
The characters were also compelling. Beyond Maeve, she begins spending a lot of time with Fiona and Roe. I appreciated the romance with Roe, although slow-building, because it really adds depth and understanding for those who are the target of hate. As a character, he was particularly well-constructed, and I would love to read both his and Fiona's stories as well. They were people I felt I got to know in the best way. Other characters, such a the shopkeeper at Divination, were also well-constructed, adding to the complexity of the story.
I would add warnings to the book for domestic violence, suicide and suicidal ideation, hate crimes and violence, cult-like organizations, and cutting.
Final verdict: ALL OUR HIDDEN GIFTS is a captivating and thought-provoking YA fantasy/horror/thriller with compelling characters and a unique plot. Highly recommend for fans of THE DEVOURING GRAY, MY BEST FRIEND'S EXORCISM, and HORRID.
What I loved most about ALL OUR HIDDEN GIFTS is the voice. Maeve's narration is witty, sharp, and has an incredible journey of both self-discovery and learning from your mistakes. Maeve knows she did poorly when she harshly friend-broke-up with Lily and humiliated her a year or two before the story starts, but it takes her a while to realize that gaining the approval of people you barely like in an attempt to survive high school isn't worth hurting the people you love. And beyond that, even when you do apologize and try to fix your mistake, you aren't owed forgiveness, and that's something you have to come to terms with. Though Maeve is the sole narrator, all the characters have to find ways forward that allows them to remember and honor the past but leave some of the weight of it behind. I particularly like Roe's arc in this as well, as Roe struggles with romantic feelings for Maeve while knowing what she did to Lily.
The inclusion of witchcraft and tarot is really cool. Maeve is surrounded by brilliant people, those who are good in school or have a specific extracurricular they excel at. She finds her own talent in the most unexpected place (tarot/witchcraft) and her talent is never shown as less than the more traditional skills and talents of her friends and family. I also like that the story dispels (pun) some of the stereotypes of tarot reading, like that the cards usually aren't actually literal (ex. the Lovers card meaning a romantic relationship and the Death card meaning physical death).
Overall, ALL OUR HIDDEN GIFTS is a voice-fueled, fun, witchy story about growing up, growing better, and finding your path.
What worked: This is an engaging contemporary paranormal set against an Irish backdrop. Maeve is the outsider at her school. Her former best friend Lily is deemed a little 'different' and Maeve quickly drops her to hang with the more popular girls. When Maeve's disciplined for throwing a shoe at one of her teachers, she finds an old set of tarot cards hidden in the closet. This is strange considering she attends an all girl's Catholic school. But there's something magical whenever she uses the cards. Maeve quickly finds she not only has a gift for giving tarot readings but loves the popularity that comes with it. Readers see how quick Maeve changes and how this affects her relationship with the one friend that she had pushed aside.
There's much more to this story then just the paranormal. There's the love of family, friendships that are formed and discarded, exploring one's paranormal abilities, standing up against homophobia, and being true to one's self. Maeve and her friends, while searching to find Lily, encounter a hateful group that targets the GLBT community. Aaron, the leader of Children of Brigid, has the ability to draw people to him and he uses his power in a negative way. This power might have paranormal elements too.
Maeve's friendship with Roe and Fiona grows as she tries to make sense of the tarot cards and how they might have caused Lily to disappear. In the meantime, she finds a secret from a former student that might have links to the mysterious cards. Readers discover that not all is what it seems to be in the small Irish town. Secrets abound. Secrets that have deadly consequences.
Witty voice with engaging characters set in Ireland with a touch of mysticism.