The Cloisters

The Cloisters” by Katy Hays is not my typical choice of reading, but it is a beautifully written debut novel. The plot involves medieval art and the researchers and interns at The Cloisters (a division of The Met museum) in New York. Specifically it focuses on Tarot cards and the belief in divination/fortune telling by those who read the cards.

Ann Stilwell is still reeling from the sudden death of her father, an expert on medieval artwork and culture, when she is hired as a summer intern at The Cloisters. Her days are spent with curator, Patrick Roland; fellow intern, Rachel Mondray; and gardener, Leo Bitburg. The descriptions of the museum are very vivid – I felt like I was actually there because the writing was excellent. The museum is full of gothic artifacts, and the gardens are full of poisonous plants – although in medieval times, many of those were used for medicinal purposes. The relationships between the four main characters develop slowly until one of them is murdered and a police investigation begins. The plot moves more quickly after the murder and there are several twists that I did not expect.

I was a little disappointed in the pace of “The Cloisters.” It moved rather slowly, but I did enjoy the great descriptions and the unusual setting and topics. Art enthusiasts and mystery/thriller readers might like to check this one out!

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