The Cloisters

Atria. Nov. 2022. 320p. ISBN 9781668004401. $28. SUSPENSE
DEBUT As a student of early Renaissance art history, Ann Stilwell is eager for her position in the summer associate program at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. She’s told on arrival, though, that there’s no place for her. Fortunately, Patrick Roland, curator at the Cloisters, scoops her up. He and his assistant, Rachel Mondray, need help in researching for an exhibition on divination, the techniques and artworks used to tell the future. Ann questions whether it’s fate or choice that brings her together with the small group of scholars who delve into fortune telling and the occult, searching for answers to the past and the future. But feelings and emotions aren’t easy to hide in a group that revolves around the charismatic Rachel. As death and tragedy spin to their conclusion in the eerie setting, it’s easy for an academic to say the future was ordained.
VERDICT The tension and foreboding builds gradually in this outstanding gothic debut, allowing readers to savor Ann’s voice. The disturbing account plays with class differences and women friendship, set against a medieval, academic atmosphere sheltered from the city.
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