When Maeve is tasked with cleaning out a storage space at school as a punishment for throwing her shoe at a teacher, she finds an old tarot deck. She’s a quick study with the cards, and before long she’s doing readings as a sort of cottage industry in her private Catholic school. A reading for her ex-best friend, Lily, turns into an argument when it brings up painful parts of the girls’ pasts. Afterward, Lily disappears without a trace, prompting Maeve to explore witchcraft further in order to find her. All Our Hidden Gifts takes magic seriously and reminds us it’s everywhere we look.
Author Caroline O’Donoghue grounds this story in rich details. Scenes in which Maeve does card readings or spellwork are fascinating. They never slow the plot down with esoterics, and they build on one another so that we’re learning right along with Maeve. It’s clear how tiring the work and concentration required by witchcraft are; there are no spells enacted by a mere wiggle of the nose here.
O’Donoghue depicts Maeve’s school and home in a way that’s true to life, and we get a feel for her neighborhood in Ireland. A conservative religious youth group is beginning to take a hold in the area, which not only poses dangers to LGBTQ+ characters, including Maeve’s sister Jo and her friend/crush, Roe, but also adds a frightening edge to Maeve’s quest to find Lily. There’s an emotional authenticity to Maeve’s tetchiness, too. She was to blame for the collapse of her friendship with Lily, and she’s often demanding and jealous in her tentative new friendships, as well as with her family. Witchcraft offers her a center to return to, not to mention some anchoring confidence.
The book’s ending leaves the door open for a sequel, and readers are sure to clamor for one. Maeve is a complex hero just coming into her powers, and she deserves more opportunities to use them. All Our Hidden Gifts is grounded and realistic, even when it’s got a foot in the supernatural, and it captures the complex, emotional nature of teen relationships with ease.