All Our Hidden Gifts by Caroline O’Donoghue is a young adult fantasy about witches. Maeve has never been good at anything until in All Our Hidden Gifts, she finds a deck of tarot cards.
“The story of how I ended up with the Chokey Card Tarot can be told in four detentions, three notes home, two bad report cars, and one Tuesday afternoon that ended with me locked ina cupboard.”
This is how the story of Maeve and her deck of cards begins. These cars and reading them is the only easy thing Maeve has ever encountered. She is grumpy, quick to anger, and not great at school. When all of your siblings and your parents are extremely smart- it doesn’t feel too great. Maeve doesn’t have anyone she would call a best friend, not anymore. After she ended things with Lily in a less than graceful way, Maeve has been sort of floating around friend groups. Until Maeve gets after school detention and has to clean out an old storage closet. She finds a Walkman with a homemade mixtape and a deck of tarot cards. Tarot cards are easy for her to learn, unlike everything else, and she starts giving the other girls at school readings.
“Fiona’s first name is Irish, her second name English, her skin is brown, and her patience for other people’s bullshit is limited.”
She meets Fiona, and they quickly become friends. However, after some pressuring from other girls, Lily asks for a reading, and that’s when things go left. Lily and Maeve fight and Maeve wishes Lily would just disappear. And then she does. It’s up to Maeve and her newfound gift to find out where Lily went and what the mysterious Housekeeper card has to do with it. With a mysterious hate group trying to get rid of all queer groups, there is the question of what that cult has to do with it as well.
There is a gentle romance with Maeve and Lily’s sibling, Roe, and the balance of finding out who your friends are and what you’d do for them.
“Hate crime always feels like much more of a late-evening thing.”
Maeve is, at times, a frustrating character to read. This is partly because she’s a bratty 16-year-old not quite aware of her own privilege and somewhat because she gets a “chosen one” trope while being that character. She speaks too quickly without thinking and hurts the people around her. While she tries to be sensitive to other issues, she still misses the mark on some things. However, how she handles Roe’s gender identity subplot was charming, and their romance was sweet to read. There were moments inside Maeve’s thoughts that made me cringe, but that had more to do with Maeve and less to do with the romance.
Fiona insists on being considered a friend, and as Maeve has only ever had Lily up until the last couple of years, she struggles with this. I found that to be really relatable and understandable. Friendships, female ones especially, are complicated and challenging at times. While I loved the relationships in this book, I felt a little confused by the timeline and the speed at which these characters grew close. It felt like instalove and instafriendship, and while difficult times can definitely lead to these sorts of things, it isn’t always an excellent time for them to happen.
“Honestly, Maeve, there’s nothing like a brush with death to make you realize your parents opinion of you doesn’t matter.”
The book interestingly addresses homophobia. The subplot of the Children of Brigid cult was the most exciting part of the story, and I would have liked more about that. Perhaps if this is not just a standalone, we will learn more about them and how Aaron runs them with the assistance of the Housekeeper. The book was enjoyable, but it’s pacing was strange, and the lack of questions answered was a little frustrating to me.
Thank you to Netgalley, Edelweiss, and the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.