Review of ‘The Cloisters’

The Cloisters follow Ann through a gothic museum and garden, caught in a web of lies, death, and mystery.

“A Masterful Debut”

The Cloisters
Katy Hays
Atria Books

A masterful debut, Katy Kays tells a haunting tale of a girl eager to escape her home and the memories left there. Still reeling from the unexpected death of her father, she takes a position at the Met in New York, only for those plans to fall through.

She meets the magnanimous Peter and charismatic Rachel, who take her under their wings at The Cloisters, a “gothic museum and garden renowned for its medieval art collection.” Eager to please, Ann loses herself in studying the ancient divine, racing to find that deck of tarot cards that could help her make a name for herself.

Excellent Tension

Both haunting and mysterious, the tension within the story is a slow build. Beginning with a murder, the journey goes back to when Ann first meets her newfound colleagues and how fate begins to twist and turn. Ann begins the story as a mousy girl, unsure of herself, but as the story progresses. Under Rachel’s influence, Ann slowly becomes more daring and more sure of herself.

Ann is a brilliant character with a brilliant mind, taking the reader on a deep and intuitive journey. Hays has imbued her story with such a wonderful atmosphere. Equal parts gothic and haunting, the reader sees the beauty of the Cloisters and the darkness hidden in the shadows.

And as the story progresses, the mystery and intrigue rise.

The Cloisters has a slow and steady pace, but the intensity sends the reader into overdrive. It lures you in and builds up those character dynamics and plot twists. And the level of detail Hays puts into her story, her knowledge and her background give the story more realism without taking away from the pace. There are studies here, and there are remarks on the history, time periods and art style. Still, it adds to the novel’s beauty instead of being distracting.

Final Thoughts

The Cloisters is a fantastic novel. Slow and steady, the story’s intensity never falters and that ending, simply put, is to die for.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

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