The Secret History meets Ninth House in this sinister, atmospheric novel following a circle of researchers as they uncover a mysterious deck of tarot cards and shocking secrets in New York’s famed Met Cloisters.
When Ann Stilwell arrives in New York City, she expects to spend her summer working as a curatorial associate at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Instead, she finds herself assigned to The Cloisters, a gothic museum and garden renowned for its medieval art collection and its group of enigmatic researchers studying the history of divination.
Desperate to escape her painful past, Ann is happy to indulge the researchers’ more outlandish theories about the history of fortune telling. But what begins as academic curiosity quickly turns into obsession when Ann discovers a hidden 15th-century deck of tarot cards that might hold the key to predicting the future. When the dangerous game of power, seduction, and ambition at The Cloisters turns deadly, Ann becomes locked in a race for answers as the line between the arcane and the modern blurs.
A haunting and magical blend of genres, The Cloisters is a gripping debut that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
Hays debuts with a moody and suspenseful story of a floundering art history graduate. Though Ann Stillwell has been unsuccessful in pursuing a grad school offer, she nevertheless lands a coveted summer internship at the Metropolitan Museum of Art—but upon arrival, she learns the offer has been rescinded. Ann then hears of a vacancy at the Cloisters, where she joins the beautiful and supremely competent Rachel Mondray in assisting head curator Patrick Roland on a research project related to the tarot, which, according to Patrick's hypothesis, has much older ties to the occult than scholars had previously assumed. Ann is dazzled by Rachel's wealth, and a quick, intense friendship develops as she is drawn into the research, though she's increasingly unnerved by Patrick's fervor and seeming belief in the occult. Hays carefully leaves the supernatural elements open to interpretation, and Ann's summer is ultimately shaped by a tragedy with a traceably human cause. Readers will be fascinated by the evocative setting as well as the behind-the-scenes glimpses into museum curatorship and the cutthroat games of academia. It makes for an accomplished debut. Agent: Sarah Phair, Sanford J. Greenburger Assoc.