Catherine House Review
Title: Catherine House
Author: Elisabeth Thomas
Publisher: Tinder Press
Publication Date: 12 May 2020
Source: Jonathan Ball Publishers
Format: Trade Paperback
Rating: 3 Stars
You are in the house and the house is in the woods.
You are in the house and the house is in you...
Catherine House is a school of higher learning like no other. Hidden deep in the woods of rural Pennsylvania, this crucible of reformist liberal arts study with its experimental curriculum wildly selective admissions policy, and formidable endowment, has produced some of the world's best minds: prize-winning authors, artists, inventors, Supreme Court justices, presidents.
For those lucky few selected, tuition, room, and board are free. But acceptance comes with a price. Students are required to give the House three years - summers included - completely removed from the outside world. Family, friends, television, music, even their clothing must be left behind. In return, the school promises its graduates a future of sublime power and prestige, and that they can become anything or anyone they desire.
Among this year's incoming class is Ines, who expects to trade blurry nights of parties, pills, cruel friends, and dangerous men for rigorous intellectual discipline - only to discover an environment of sanctioned revelry. The school's enigmatic director, Viktoria, encourages the students to explore, to expand their minds, to find themselves and their place within the formidable black iron gates of Catherine.
For Ines, Catherine is the closest thing to a home she's ever had, and her serious, timid roommate, Baby, soon becomes an unlikely friends. Yet the House's strange protocols make this refuge, with its worn velvet and weathered leather, feel increasingly like a gilded prison. And when Baby's obsessive desire for acceptance ends in tragedy, Ines begins to suspect that the school - in all its shabby splendor, hallowed history, advanced theories, and controlled decadence - might be hiding a dangerous agenda that is connected to a secretive, tightly knit group of students selected to study its most promising and mysterious curriculum.
I don't really have an idea of what this book is about except that Olivia from Olivia Reads A Latte really enjoyed this book. And honestly, I trust her opinion when it comes to thrillers as we seem to have the same sort of taste when it comes to them. I also decided that it was the perfect time to read it with Thrilltober coming up soon! This was also one of my most anticipated releases of 2020
Thank you so much to Jonathan Ball Publishers for providing me with a copy of this book. Just a quick disclaimer for those reading this review, I have received this book for free. Please note that this does not affect my opinions in any way.
The writing did a fantastic job of creating the spooky atmosphere surrounding Catherine House. There were moments where I was sucked into the world created by Thomas. I'll be honest, I cannot fault the writing. It was well paced and the dialogue flowed well and it didn't weigh the writing down.
Despite the fact that the book is well written, I feel like we arrived in the middle of something. The plot starts off when Ines arriving at Catherine House but I kind of wish it has started just a little earlier than that. Throughout the book there are flashbacks to Ines' old life to provide more background. However, these are just small moments in the book and I feel as though if we got to read these flashbacks as proper chapters in the beginning of the book, they would not be as fleeting. The ending was also open ended which continues to give the impression that we are just bring thrown into the middle of something.
I did, however, love the academics that the book focused on. It was interesting to see the different kind of students interact in this environment where they are forced to perform in order to stay at the prestigious Catherine House. I liked that there was a science element introduced, I just wished this was explored a little more.
Ines was an interesting main character. Her point of view always seemed to lack urgency but it was still curious and observant. I did think that because of this, I struggled to connect to the characters introduced. When Ines finally connected with a group of characters, it was almost too late for the reader to have the same kind of affection for them that Ines had.
Overall, I found this book to be okay. I was hoping to love this book, in fact it was one of the books I was so sure I would give a five star to but I feel like it just fell that little bit flat. For a debut, the writing was really great, it did a fantastic job of creating the spooky and mysterious atmosphere that surrounded Catherine House. The plot was probably the part of the book that didn't work for me. It seemed as if we were in the middle of something and it just left me wanting more, and not in a good way. The characters were okay but I wasn't able to form a connection with any of them. If you are looking for a book about dark academia, then this might interest you but other than that... I can't say I would 100% recommend it. Thank you to Jonathan Ball Publishers for sending me a copy of this book!
Yours in Reading,