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  • Published: 24 October 2023
  • ISBN: 9781804990032
  • Imprint: Penguin
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 416
  • RRP: $26.00

The Cloisters




Pitched as The Secret History for a new generation, this dark tale of toxic obsession, ambition and corrosive friendships proved to be one of the year's most captivating debuts - a top 10 bestseller in the UK and the USA!

THE SUNDAY TIMES TOP 5 BESTSELLER . . . IN HARDBACK AND NOW IN PAPERBACK!

The Secret History meets Ninth House . . . the discovery of a mysterious deck of tarot cards lays bare shocking secrets within a close-knit circle of researchers at New York's famed Met Cloisters museum.

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'Glamour, power, seduction, ambition – The Cloisters has it all. I adored this deliciously gothic, beautifully written novel.' LOUISE O'NEILL,

'Dark and enigmatic . . . a story of academic obsession, Renaissance magic and the ruthless pursuit of power. Captivating in every sense.' SARAH PEARSE

'Elegant and atmospheric and suffused with brooding menace.' LUCY CLARKE

'Sultry and sinister . . . teems with sexual tension, the secrets of divination, and scholarly obsessiveness . . . jaw-dropping.' SARAH PENNER

‘Beguiling and atmospheric, an entrancing and gripping tale.’ KATE MOSSE

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Ann Stilwell arrives in New York City, hoping to spend her summer working at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Instead, she is assigned to The Cloisters, a gothic museum and garden renowned for its collection of medieval and Renaissance art.

Drawn into a small circle of charismatic but enigmatic researchers, Ann happy to indulge some of their more outlandish theories, including the museum's curator who is fixated on tarot and the real possibility of predicting the future.

But when Ann discovers a mysterious, once-thought lost deck of 15th-century Italian tarot cards she finds herself at the centre of a dangerous game of power, toxic friendship and ambition.

And as the game being played within the Cloisters spirals out of control, Ann must decide who she trusts . . .

  • Published: 24 October 2023
  • ISBN: 9781804990032
  • Imprint: Penguin
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 416
  • RRP: $26.00

About the author

Katy Hays

Katy Hays is an adjunct professor of Art History at Sierra College and holds a BA from UC Santa Cruz, an MA from Williams College and attended UC Berkeley for her PhD in Art History. Her academic work has been published by Ashgate, and her writing has been featured in Belladonna magazine. She also serves on the board of the Community of Writers, whose workshops take place every summer in Olympic Valley, California, where she lives. Having worked in curatorial and research roles at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Musée D'Orsay and The Clark Art Institute, she brings an insider's knowledge of the workings of museums and galleries as well as indepth research about the fascinating history of fortune-telling to The Cloisters, her first novel.

Praise for The Cloisters

Prepare to lose your entire afternoon to The Cloisters . . . good luck staying ahead of this one and have a great time poring over the many treasures inside.

MARIA HUMMEL, author of Reese’s Book Club Pick, Still Lives

Sultry and sinister . . . Hays' debut teems with sexual tension, the secrets of divination, and scholarly obsessiveness . . . jaw-dropping.

SARAH PENNER, author of The Lost Apothecary

A tour de force by an important new voice . . . a rich tapestry that speaks to issues of privilege, power, and ambition-and, more than anything, the darkness lurking just inside ivory towers . . . incredibly compelling, The Cloisters grabbed me in a way that no book has done since The Secret History.

RACHEL KAPELKE-DALE, author of The Ballerinas

Mesmerizing . . . like the air before a summer storm - thick and sinister, shimmering with tension. A seductive unfurling of lies, envy, and the pull of the occult . . . this sharp, shadowy book held me in thrall from beginning to star-crossed end.

SARA SLIGAR, author of Take Me Apart

A sharply smart, engaging debut . . . Hays' smooth narration deftly conjures the complex, sexy webs between her characters . . . a fun, seductive, intelligent read.

NICOLA DeROBERTIS-THEYE, author of The Vietri Project

The dark and enigmatic world of The Cloisters captured me from the off . . . a story of academic obsession, Renaissance magic and the ruthless pursuit of power. Captivating in every sense.

SARAH PEARSE, author of The Sanatorium

The tension and foreboding builds gradually in this outstanding gothic debut, allowing readers to savour Ann's voice. The disturbing account plays with class differences and women friendship, set against a medieval, academic atmosphere sheltered from the city.

LIBRARY JOURNAL *Starred Review

Glamour, power, seduction, ambition - The Cloisters has it all. I adored this deliciously gothic, beautifully written novel.

LOUISE O'NEILL, author of Idol

Moody and suspenseful . . . 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 . . . an accomplished debut.

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

The Cloisters blew me away. A one sitting read. Absolutely stunning, brilliant twists and gorgeous sensual writing. Adored it.

HEATHER DARWENT, author of The Things We Do to Our Friends

Elegant and atmospheric and suffused with brooding menace, The Cloisters transports us to the dark corridors of museum life, embroiling the reader in a twisting mystery, while also intelligently exploring the nature of fate versus freewill.

LUCY CLARKE, author of The Castaways

'Dark and compelling . . . richly atmospheric and full of historic detail, it draws the reader into its world of the archive and the occult. As its central mystery unfolds amid the stifling heat of a New York Summer it soon becomes clear that nobody in it is quite who they first appear.'

SALLY HINCHCLIFFE, author of Hare House

Like the moment before a thunderstorm on a summer afternoon, The Cloisters is sultry, lush, and trembling with menace.

JULIA MAY JONAS, author of Vladimir

This is a modern, Gothic masterpiece. Successfully linking modern critical thinking with the divinity of the past, and human nature's desire to believe that there is something else out there. 9/10

INDEPENDENT

A sinister slow burn tale of obsession, power, secrets and academic rivalry . . . it's been weeks since I finished the book and I'm still impressed by how much it affected me. ****

CULTUREFLY

Atmospheric, intoxicating and original; a stunning debut.

MY WEEKLY

A beguiling, intoxicating tale of obsession. ****

HEAT 'Book of the Week'

A teasing, atmospheric mystery set against the background of a hot summer in New York.

SAGA 'Book of the Month'

This sharp, twisty piece of 'dark academia' is like a museum-set 'All About Eve'.

Wendy Holden, DAILY MAIL

Beguiling and atmospheric, an entrancing and gripping tale.

KATE MOSSE, author of Labyrinth

A gripping debut . . . Hays is a writer who can skilfully navigate the narrow territory between suspense and melodrama.

GUARDIAN

In Hays' hands, the subject of tarot is a fascinating one and the twists and turns come thick and fast. It's full of menace.

DAILY EXPRESS

Brimming with intrigue and mystery . . . an atmospheric debut with a gripping premise.

IRISH TIMES

Driven by fascinating and creepy power dynamics that anchor it in the Dark Academia trend, The Cloisters offers an enticing glimpse into the history of the tarot, a key trend in fantasy.

Good Housekeeping

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