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All Our Hidden Gifts by Caroline O'Donoghue - Review

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Where did I get it? I bought it. Someone I follow on Twitter was raving about it and I thought it sounded like my kind of thing, so I bought it. 

What's it about? The book is set in Ireland, somewhere near Cork I think. Our heroine is Maeve, who is a pupil at a girls school set up by an ageing nun, Sister Assumpta. Maeve is the youngest in a family of five, but only her sister Jo remains at home. Maeve is quite hot headed and gets into trouble. As a punishment, she's told to clear out a cupboard in a basement classroom, a cupboard nicknamed 'The Chokey'. 

In the cupboard she finds an old Walkman and a mix tape from 1990, and also some tarot cards. Maeve doesn't know tarot, but she takes the cards anyway and starts to learn about them. Some girls at school want her to do readings, so she does. And it turns out she's good at doing accurate readings. Fiona, a girl who is a bit of an outcast, starts taking bookings for Maeve for about every girl in school. 

But then there's Lily. Lily and Maeve used to be really good friends and had been since being little. Maeve used to be close to Lily's brother Rory, too. She meets him on the bus and sparks fly between the two, and he tells her something about himself that she didn't know. Maeve feels awful for how things ended between her and Lily, which deep down she knows was all her fault. So when the girls at school tease Lily and insist she has a tarot reading, Maeve really doesn't want to do it, but she does anyway. The two girls fight and Maeve says, "I wish you would just disappear!" One of the cards that Lily chose was a card Maeve hadn't seen before, a card of a woman with a knife in her mouth. It's the Housekeeper card. 

And then Lily does disappear. A couple of days later at school the Gardai arrive to ask everyone questions. Maeve is a suspect due to the two girls falling out. She and Fiona become friendly and even though she's been told to avoid Rory, Maeve can't help but go and speak to him. The sparks keep flying... 

Maeve and Fiona are messing around one afternoon in a clothes shop when two people come in to complain. Then there's a protest in town, and Maeve's sister and her girlfriend are attacked. This is the mysterious Children of Brigid and their charismatic leader, Aaron. 

Lots happens in the book, there's lots of magic and intrigue, all mixed up with modern happenings and social issues. I loved each main character, I loved Maeve especially. I loved the romance with Rory, I loved Maeve's family, and I loved the magic. It's such a good book, and I'm hopeful there'll be more in the series because it would lend itself perfectly to there being a sequel at least. 

What age range is it for? 14+ 

Are any main characters LGBTQ+? Yes, but no spoilers. Maeve's sister Jo is gay too. 

Are any main characters people of colour? Fiona is part Filipino, and I loved how her culture was portrayed and used within the book. 

Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? There's some trauma stuff going on for a couple of characters, I didn't think it was triggering but take care of yourself.  

Is there any sex stuff? No 

Are drugs mentioned or used? No I don't think so 

Is there any talk of death? Yes but it's not graphic 

Are there swear words? Hardly any 


What criticisms do I have? Hardly any, I absolutely loved the book and the setting. 

Would I recommend the book? Yes totally. 

Why did I choose to read it at this point in life? I just knew I wanted to get to it soon and I'm so glad I did 


What do I think of the cover? I like it, it looks a bit like a ouija board kind of thing 


What other books is it like? It really reminded me of The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle. 

How many stars? Five out of five


Where is the book going now? I think I know a couple of people who might like it, so I might lend it out!

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