Let me preface this by saying I’m not the biggest fan of Gothic reads. Gothic books, tend to lean more heavily on a strong atmospheric vibe and less on the actual plot. As a huge plot based reader, this makes most Gothic reads a miss for me. But a couple blurbs about The Cloisters said it would be great for fans of Ninth House, so I decided to take a chance on it.
Recent graduate, Ann Stillwell has just arrived from Walla Walla for a summer internship at The Met. But when her initial position falls through, a surprise offer to join the team at The Cloisters for the summer leads Ann on a journey that will change her life. As she immerses herself in not just The Cloisters, but also into Patrick and Rachel’s lives she finds herself drawn deeper into the world of tarot and pondering the question of fate. Can we really predict our fates? And once predicted can they be changed?
The Cloisters checks all the boxes for a dark academia, gothic read. I did think that the writing was beautiful, lyrical, and completely encapsulates the reader within the story. If you love atmospheric reads, and need a good fall vibes story, then this will be perfect for you.
For me the slow burn was a little tooo slow, and I needed more action. I loved the tarot aspect, but I kept getting distracted by trying to learn more about Tarot itself rather than being invested in Ann’s story, which honestly, I could care less about Ann. Her weird co-dependent relationship with Rachel is intriguing at first but once again felt drawn out and unsatisfying. Ann’s final twist also seemed almost unnecessary for me. It does a good job of bringing the story back full circle but felt like an after thought.
I felt this had all the makings of being amazing, but it lacked ‘Magic’ for me. I would compare this to Ninth House only in terms of atmosphere as both have stellar vivid imagery. This is more a coming of age story, and didn’t dive into either fantasy or magical realism enough for what I was expecting. For a debut, the writing was good but the storyline could have been stronger.
The Cloisters comes out November 1, 2022! Huge thank you to Atria Books for my advanced copy in exchange for my honest opinion. If you liked this review please let me know either by commenting below or by visiting my instagram @speakingof.books.
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