Review: All Our Hidden Gifts by Caroline O’Donoghue

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Maeve Chambers doesn’t have much going for her. Not only does she feel like the sole idiot in a family of geniuses, she managed to drive away her best friend Lily a year ago. But when she finds a pack of dusty old tarot cards at school, and begins to give scarily accurate readings to the girls in her class, she realizes she’s found her gift at last. Things are looking up – until she discovers a strange card in the deck that definitely shouldn’t be there. And two days after she convinces her ex-best friend to have a reading, Lily disappears.
Can Maeve, her new friend Fiona and Lily’s brother Roe find her? And will their special talents be enough to bring Lily back, before she’s gone for good?

I have to admit, this is exactly what I wanted House of Hollow to be. Both have parallels, but this was much more what I expected (and wanted) for the trope of ‘girl goes missing and could be in a place nobody can reach her’. Even though the trope was similar to others I’ve seen, this book was so unique in it’s premise and plot itself, which I loved. It felt like such an oddity of YA, and breaches a gap between contemporary and magical realism, giving off a spooky feel.

I really liked the atmosphere and felt it was portrayed really well. I definitely had goosebumps in places and felt slightly spooked by the scenes in this book, which beautifully showed the thinning of the veil between our world and somewhere else. I really enjoyed how much tarot played a part in the story and the fact it is set in the real world makes the story easy to follow.

The characters were so diverse and I really liked the friendship dynamic. I think my biggest struggle was sometimes how much I disliked the main character, Maeve, who occasionally felt very immature in her actions and the way she spoke to people around her. Although she did grow throughout the book, I did sometimes struggle to like her character. However, I loved the side characters and the way all of their stories intertwined and they all had different plots working alongside each other. Each character had their own struggles and demons but they came together to fight as a team.

One of the main characters spends this book exploring his gender identity, which I really enjoyed reading about and sparked some really interesting and important conversations between the characters. The entire cast felt very diverse and it was great to see a non-binary side character, although I found the main character still presumed the genders of others, which felt a little backwards in places. I did really like the romance, however, and seeing how the two characters communicated with one another and had a level of understanding I didn’t expect really warmed my heart.

This book is set in Ireland, which I really liked. It also felt like it played a key role in the story, including discussions of the Catholic Church but also the folklore of Ireland. This brought out some really interesting and important topics that I definitely wasn’t expecting to come up.

If you’re looking for a quirky and atmospheric creepy YA, I would really recommend this one. I can see how this is only the first one in a series and I’m looking forward to seeing where Maeve’s story goes!

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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