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Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas

(1 customer review)



Book Summary

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 a future of sublime power and prestige, and that its graduates can become anything or anyone they desire.

Among this year’s incoming class is Ines Murillo, who expects to trade blurry nights of parties, cruel friends, and dangerous men for rigorous intellectual discipline—only to discover an environment of sanctioned revelry. Even the school’s enigmatic director, Viktória, encourages the students to explore, to expand their minds, to find themselves within the formidable iron gates of Catherine. For Ines, it is the closest thing to a home she’s ever had. But the House’s strange protocols soon make this refuge, with its worn velvet and weathered leather, feel increasingly like a gilded prison. And when tragedy strikes, 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 within the secretive, tightly knit group of students selected to study its most promising and mysterious curriculum.

Combining the haunting sophistication and dusky, atmospheric style of Sarah Waters with the unsettling isolation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, Catherine House is a devious, deliciously steamy, and suspenseful page-turner with shocking twists and sharp edges that is sure to leave readers breathless.


Condition: New

Hardcover, Published May 12, 2020 by Custom House

ISBN: 9780062905659

1 review for Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas

  1. Chandra

    “Do you know what plasm is?”
    “What do you mean? Plasm, the new material?’
    “Yes, Plasm. I mean, do you really understand what it is – exactly? Do you really get it?”

    Replace Plasm with Catherine House and this is basically a conversation I’d probably have regarding the book. This is a very atmospheric, gothic bit of a read and it reminds me of watching an Indie movie – a bit of a slow build up where you’re eyebrows are pinched in trying to figure out what is going on. Hence why my attention wouldn’t be fully on the read and I would find myself putting it down every so often. I considered DNFing it but then things got really interesting….

    What I liked and didn’t like about this book kind of are for the same reasons. It’s a bit of a mindfuck as you never really know what’s happening. There are hints and we get touches of this and that… but I never really saw it fleshed out completely. I kind of liked being able to make my own assumptions but I also really wanted some answers. Le sigh. I like that we only get the view point of Ines but I also would’ve liked to see how everyone else took in this environment (especially Yaya). It’s got that creepy, gothic feel but I wanted it to be just a bit more… I felt at times I was reading it as if I was seeing everything in a haze. I’m not sure if that had to do with the writing or that, like the plot, the characters also didn’t seem fully solid.

    Now, I think this was probably done intentionally for the purposes of what the plot seems to bring the reader. And I applaud that this is a debut novel that gives us something different than what we have been used to being published. Trust me, I’m a big flip flopper when it comes to ambiguity.

    While I don’t think this book will be for everyone, I think if you’re even considering it, definitely pick it up and decide where you land for yourself.
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