Thank you to Goodreads, Custom House, and Elisabeth Thomas for my copy of Catherine House!
Recently, I’ve been fairly obsessed with entering Goodreads giveaways. It’s a great way to get to read new books, connect with authors, and talk books in a community full of book lovers. Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas is one of my first wins! Woohoo!
This is Elisabeth Thomas’ first novel, so it will be interesting to see where she goes from here.
About Elisabeth Thomas
Elisabeth Thomas grew up in Brooklyn, New York, where she still lives and now writes. She graduated from Yale University and currently works as an archivist for a modern art museum.
The novel follows Ines through her three years at Catherine House. This is a school “meant to replace conventional colleges”. The school is behind a gate somewhere in Pennsylvania, where students are completely cut off from the outside world. The novel takes place in the 1990s, but we’re talking no internet, television, etc.
Ines is a troubled soul with a troubled past. After seeing a girl die in a hotel room on a questionable evening, Ines has been on the run. Someone in her life recommended she attend Catherine House, and that’s where she landed.
The school is full of people with questionable pasts. Soon after arriving, they’re told not to talk about their pasts. They are new people, and Catherine House will help them move forward.
From there, it’s a bit of some science fiction-y nonsense, and the book kind of gets away from you.
I rounded up for Goodreads (Seriously, why can we not do half stars?!) and gave Catherine House three stars, though two and a half is probably more apt.
For a first novel, I think Elisabeth Thomas did well! The concept of the book was SO PROMISING. From my advanced reader copy:
Part mystery, part gothic horror, part story of a young woman in search of meaning and a sense of belonging in the world, Catherine House is so delicious, so twisty and immersive…I swear, you may never want to leave.
How is that not going to suck you in?! The beginning of the book got off to such a great start, sucking you in almost immediately. However, the execution was lacking.
The book takes place over the full three years. That seemed to be too much time for Ms. Thomas. It’s a large enough span where you can’t go into too many details each year (a la Harry Potter) but it’s too short of time to give each year the attention it needs. At times, the book was extremely redundant and left much to be desired.
Also, I’ve seen this much more often in the past few years, but authors are becoming so cavalier about sex and alcohol. You couldn’t go a single chapter in Catherine House without mention of so-and-so sleeping with someone or waking up with a hangover. That kind of behavior and writing wasn’t necessary to the story, so it really detracted a lot for me.
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