This author's incredible talent is not hidden
All Our Hidden Gifts by Caroline O'Donoghue, Walker Books
Maeve finds a pack of tarot cards and instantly feels a strange and strong connection with them. After Maeve starts doing readings for her classmates, one vanishes, Is there a link between the mysterious cards and Lily's disappearance? Does Maeve have hidden gifts or is something more sinister happening?
I LOVED THIS BOOK! I read it in 24 hours and enjoyed everything about this story. It's so atmospheric and intriguing. I was hooked from the first page - from the very first line even; it had me at "four detentions." All the characters are interesting and so much fun to spend time with (except for Aaron, who is creepy, but still incredibly compelling!). The main protagonist, Maeve, is wonderful and so relatable. She is far from perfect but very human and I loved her witty inner monologue.
It's brilliant how this features LGBT and non-binary/gender-fluid characters and also represents different ethnic backgrounds. I love how it features 90's music and fashion. The incense, crystals, herbs, and Maeve's candle-lit homemade spells, all add to the story's mystical qualities. The heavy snowfall that forms part of the plot makes it an even cosier reading experience.
I didn’t want this book to end, but at the same time, could not stop reading it. The story's conclusion is satisfying and unambiguous, yet leaves room for potential sequels. I would LOVE to read more about these characters – I was so reluctant to say "goodbye" to everyone as I reached the final pages.
All Our Hidden Gifts keeps the reader in a constant state of spine-tingling suspense, but is as funny as it is spooky. Despite depicting a series of extraordinary events, it feels very real and nothing ever seems far-fetched. It's fantastic how the author seamlessly weaves Irish history and contemporary social issues into the narrative. The story raises important points about political events and the far-reaching consequences of colonialism, and the Irish famine, yet never feels heavy-handed, and remains entertaining throughout.
Aaron is based on the recent attempts at interference in Irish referendums, made by Irish Americans and US-based right-wing religious groups. It could even be argued that Aaron is another product of the famine and the diaspora it incited. I found Aaron and his influence just as terrifying, if not more so, than many of the supernatural elements.
Caroline O’Donoghue writes beautifully with lyrical, evocative prose. I loved Promising Young Women by the same author and was so excited when I heard she had written her first book for younger readers. O'Donoghue perfectly captures the essence of being a teenage girl. This is a powerful and captivating young adult debut from a remarkably skilled writer. The gifts of her characters may be hidden, but O'Donoghue's talents are obvious. Highly recommend!
All Our Hidden Gifts is published by Walker Books on 27th May - view this book on the publisher's website. A huge thank you to the publisher for the advance reader copy I received via NetGalley - all opinions expressed are my own.