A Closer Look at “The Cloisters”: A Book Review

The cloisters book review- Xoraslibrary

Table of Contents

Book info

Book title: The Cloisters

Author: Katy Hays

Genre: Dark Academia, Mystery Fiction

Pages: 297

Author website: Find more of her here

The Cloisters book is a Dark Academia literary gem worth reading.

The Cloisters Summary

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. (Summary pulled from Katy Hay’s Website)

Who should read the cloisters?

If you love dark academia with new adult characters and a touch of supernatural then you will love this thriller. 

It also has a rich history based on tarot cards that I found interesting to learn about.

About the author 

The Cloisters is her debut novel and it’s a standalone. 


Curiosity, academia, secrecy, jealousy, is your fate already decided 

Is there romance in the Cloisters Book?


There’s a Romantic relationship between Anne and Leo.

A semi romantic relationship between Patrick and Rachel.

I say Semi because Rachel was just using Patrick to get to the cards and she didn’t feel the same way about him as he did her.

The Cloisters book Characters guide and list


is the main character. She is from Washington and she lives with her mom. Her mom is deathly afraid of traveling. She prefers to stay where she knows she is safe so Anne moving away to New York City shakes her world up. 

Anne feels like she needs to escape because recently her father- who taught her everything about learning died. He died in a car accident. 

He was an autodidact who taught Anne different languages and history. 

Anne got accepted into a program at the MOMA. But when she arrives she learns there is no longer a position open for her as a summer associate

Anne has no sense of awareness at all. She’ll get information on stuff that’s happened or things that feel off, hearing about Rachel and how she betrays people to get what she wants and she looks past all of that because she relates to a parent dying! 

Patrick Roland

A curator at the cloisters overhears Anne’s situation and offers her a summer position to research with him and his student Rachel

Patrick is obsessed with tarot history in the early Renaissance. 


Is described as beautiful and put together

But everyone who has been around her says bad stuff follows her. She had a situation happen at Yale, her roommate died, and she fell out the window.  

Pg 206 “ Poor Rachel ” Anne, 🙄, you can’t be serious. Girl stand up. 

Rachel’s parents both died in a boating accident. That we later find out wasn’t really an accident. 

Before her mom passed, her mom went to see a fortune teller who told her she wouldn’t read her future because it was too dark. 

Before their death- Rachel argued with her parents 

Rachel is a psychopath who tries to justify her behavior and manipulate Anne. And Anne, too eager to be liked, allows the manipulation. 

On page 185 she says “Now some things will be easier” after the death of someone they worked closely with. So that was weird. 


Leo is a gardener at the museum. 

When Anne arrives and he sees her being infatuated with rachel he tells her 

“Rachel always gets what she wants”

Leo and Anne begin a relationship that they kind of keep on the down low because Rachel warned Anne that she shouldn’t mess with Leo. 

I’m unsure of how Rachel felt about Anne, I couldn’t tell if she liked her or liked the fact that there was someone new fawning over her and wanting to control that. She was way too possessive over Anne and who Anne spoke to or hung around with. 


Anne was delusional, At first, I was sold that she felt empathy for Rachel. She underwood the loss of her parents and Rachel lost both. 

Anne felt like she could be a friend to Rachel but at the same time, Anne adored Rachel and wanted her to like her. 

So much so that she ignored literally every sign possible. 

Actual picture of Anne 

Leo told her about Rachel more than once. 

Laure told her about Rachel

Anne herself on page 213 said “Darkness found Rachel in the readings” then said 

She “still wasn’t fully able to grasp” 

Also, Anne is the biggest woe-is-me person ever. 

On page 223 she says “Death followed me everywhere I went” 

Of course, it is sad her father died but that was literally the only death…. She was being way too dramatic. 

There was never an explanation for why Rachel wanted the cards so badly- she didn’t even believe in them. So I wish we got more insight on her intentions. Did she just want recognition for finding these vintage tarot cards?

 To move up in the world of academia? 

The pacing was slow, It did take forever to jump into the story but I think it was due to the information the author wanted to include about the history of tarot cards. To make it more academic- so there were times when it didn’t feel genuine. 


The twist you didn’t see coming. I did not expect that ending at all. 

Like at all, It wasn’t anything too crazy but I’m glad the twist was added because without it the story would have felt stale to me. 

Would I recommend The Cloisters book?

Yes, anyone who is a fan of Dark academia and New York City, I do think you will enjoy this book. You’re taken on a fun journey with the Main character Anne Stilwell on her dark academia journey to seeing if there’s any truth to divination in Tarot Cards.

Check out other posts on my blog:

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