*Arc Review* Catherine House- Elisabeth Thomas

51934838A seductive, gothic-infused tale of literary suspense—the debut of a spectacular new voice —about a dangerously curious young undergraduate whose rebelliousness leads her to discover a shocking secret involving an exclusive circle of students . . . and the dark truth beneath her school’s promise of prestige.

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, Viktória, 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 friend. 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.

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.

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My Review

“We know not to fear death. Because even in death, there is life. Death is not the black night, but its white moon. The honeyed egg of rebirth.”

This was one of those debut novels that I knew that I needed to read sooner rather than later. I’ve tried my damndest to get my hands on an early copy and I finally succeeded.

From the first couple of lines you know that you have something special and by a couple of pages I knew that I was hooked. This is one of my favorite books this year!

Elisabeth starts off and makes you feel comfortable. Then when you think everything is okay, she turns the tables and makes you question everything. You’ll start to feel haunted by this captivating tale. It’s one of those books that creeps up your spine and engulfs you wholly. You’ll never be the same again.

Catherine House is the gothic mystery of literary fiction that will unsettle you. I loved the way the book was written and how it made me feel/think as I was reading. My brain is still swirling after I finished it.

This is a story that Jordan Peele wishes he would have written.

2 thoughts on “*Arc Review* Catherine House- Elisabeth Thomas

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