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All Our Hidden Gifts by Caroline O’Donoghue, #95 review

Publication date : 4 February 2021

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 Gifts is an Urban-Fantasy Witch Stories with Queer Themes. I’m not sure if it belongs in the Young Adult genre or Middle Grade. The writing is very much Middle-Grade style but the context discussed (LGBTQ and politics) are Young Adult.

The story starts out with Maeve cleaning the basement as detention. She found a deck of tarot cards or the cards found her. Who’s to say? That is the beginning of the mystery.

For me, I find that the plot was pretty slow with the twists strategically place throughout the story. I wasn’t too surprised with the twists but the haunting aspect of the book had me at the edge of my seat. There was a chill feeling to the entire book even though it was action-packed with mystery.

One of the themes was self-discovery. After Maeve found the tarot cards, she realised her talent in witchcraft and gained confidence. She was also helped by a fellow witch and her new friends on her dangerous quest to bring back her ex-best friend after accidentally exiling her to wherever. The author tried to include some diversity but I felt that it lead the plot away from their quest and the storyline became a bit blurry from darting back and forth from the main plot and their side endeavours.

I loved the witchy aspect of the book, it was really fascinating to learn how organic ingredients for spells can be found around it. I rarely read thriller and horror novels is a no for me, somehow with the Irish folklore and witchy element in this book, I find it bearable enough to read. I do find that the romance part of the book was redundant, I would prefer it to be more friendship centred. After all, it was about rekindling a broken friendship – Maeve and Lily.

Thank you to @definitely.books for sending me an ARC, you can find this book is all good bookstores starting February 2021.

By elysianbooksish

The Bookish Faerie who loves to read and write, and bake too

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