Cover Image: Catherine House

Catherine House

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas 4/5 ⭐️ - Thank you @netgalley and @harpercollins publishers for a copy of this book due out in May! Like a mash up of Harry Potter and The Matrix, this is a dark and twisted dystopian novel set in a secluded Ivy League-like school, where the students are constantly drunk and eating possibly poisoned desserts, tortured by how they’ll never be good enough and wondering what’s the point of their empty lives. I loved all the texture Thomas’s descriptions inserted into the narrative. I am all about a lush velvet chair. 🙌🏻 The house and the grounds were positively palpable. In a way the winding, unresolved, and introspective format makes you feel as if you’re constantly reaching for something, but can never quite grasp it. Whatever “it” is, turns out to be hollow and barren. But unlike a story where you feel the plot and purpose to be empty too, this seems to be the entire point here. Much like real life, it is what you make it. Nothing will magically fill you up. You have to find your own purpose. #rachels2020readinglist #CatherineHouse #netgalley
Was this review helpful?
Catherine House by Elizabeth Thomas follows main character Ines as she starts school at the elusive Catherine House. Catherine House is a prestigious 3 year program that leads to powerful jobs and successful careers. But to go to Catherine House, you must sacrifice contacting your friends and family, TV, internet or any connection to the outside world for 3 years. Ines, running from her past, decides Catherine House is her most promising choice. Upon arrival, she becomes interested to know about what the house may be hiding, and what their intentions really are.

This book is not at all what I was expecting. Nothing happened until the last 30 pages. The writing was descriptive and beautiful, but the plot lacked page turning events. I still am not quite sure of exactly what happened. It was such a slow book, that the big plot reveal had to little impact on me. I did not empathize with Ines, as she comes off as arrogant and lazy. This book had serious potential, but fell flat for me. Thanks to NetGalley for the chance to read and review.
Was this review helpful?
I was really excited for this one., For no reason it turns out. The characters were undeveloped and the pace was slow.. It would be better labeled a "novel" than psychological  thriller because this book never gets you on the edge of the seat. I instead fell asleep.
Was this review helpful?
School of selected, special, successful, superior students (too many S letters in a sentence seems like special spell. Oh no! Again too many s letters make me feel like stuck in a spell) made me think: Hey, we have some kind gothic, intriguing thriller, more understandable and less brain cell killer version of Ninth House (yes, I was not intelligent enough to enjoy that book.) or some kind of Truly Devious trilogy’s murder mystery with just a little Hogswarts vibes. 

I have to emphasize that world building and creepy, eerie, dark atmosphere the author created was splendid. I was always a big fan of dark boarding school mysteries, mind games, the secrets behind closed doors, a murderer walks around the corner and he or she can be anyone sits behind you or your best friend or your boyfriend holds the pillow on your face to choke or appear at your bathroom like his spirit captured by Norman Bates and stabs you with newspaper (I think this was Mel Brooks’ version of Psycho!) So yes wait for the unexpected things occur out of nowhere and be suspicious about everyone kind of tricky story telling always works well for me!

 I think the book failed me for two big reasons even though it had a promising, stunning start: I hate the protagonist (I don’t want to call her heroine because she is just creepy, living in her head with so many obsessions, introvert, feeble, indecisive, I didn’t find any good qualities to like her just a little bit!) The other is pacing! The story stopped in the middle of somewhere. I feel like I was trapped in a school car in the snow storm and I cannot open the doors (Well opening the door is not a solution if I will freeze to death) and when I turn my head to the window, I realize the zombies banging on them. They can break and jump inside any second. So my over exaggerated imagination is scarier and more entertaining than this book’s dragged plot!

I think the author is really talented and created a great subplot with full of great ideas and this will be really enjoyable book without too many descriptions or slow burn mystery. If the pace would be a little faster and captivating with more interesting characters, this book could be one of my unputdownable, riveting thrillers that I may really enjoy reading.

So I arranged myself a special place in Switzerland that means I’m in the middle: I didn’t enjoy it but I didn’t hate it because there were so many potentials and I still want to read more works of the author. Let’s give solid three stars and wish that my next thriller will be more heart throbbing.

Special thanks to NetGalley and Harper Collins Publishers, Custom House for sharing this interesting gothic book’s ARC COPY in exchange my honest review.
Was this review helpful?
I was super excited to get an advanced copy of this book! Thank you so much! Was thinking this would be along the genre of “Tell me Everything” and ended up Brie good disappointed. To be honest this book read like it was written by someone having hallucinations. It possibly could have been the modern day Alice in wonderland but it just didn’t get there? There was very little character development and too much that just didn’t seem to make sense. The plot and story line were intriguing but in general it just didn’t pull together. Thanks again for the advance copy.
Was this review helpful?
“Catherine House” by Elizabeth Thomas is a novel of suspense set at a mysterious boarding school in Pennsylvania. The students are isolated from society and participating in a secret experimental study
The book was compared to “Never Let Me Go” so I had high expectations for it. While I appreciated the gothic setting and atmosphere, the book just didn’t exactly work for me.
I found it somewhat disorienting.
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the ARC.
Was this review helpful?
As much as I wanted to like this book, it didn’t work out in my favor. I didn’t really care for the main character Ines. I feel she is written in a way that you will either like or dislike her character. I did like Yaya who is a secondary character. 

The book started off slow but I knew that was needed to set the scene for the story. Though the pacing was slow there is a turning point in the story and I started to get excited. Sadly after that part of the story nothing else exciting happened and the story just dragged on and on and on. 

Thomas’s writing is very vivid and detailed and it felt like I was there in the story as I read but I needed more. When I’m reading a suspense story I want my heart to race in anticipation as to what will happen next.  With this story I never got that heart pounding feeling and I found the ending to be lackluster.
Was this review helpful?
I made it through 20% of this, but then I lost interest. The story was sort of ham-fisted, with these strong reminders that Ines had done something horrible, but without the audience knowing what. Also, the set up was implausible: no outside contact for three years?
Was this review helpful?
Throughout the whole time I was reading this book I was hard-pressed to articulate why, exactly, I was enjoying it so much but now I feel sure that it's because this book does pretty much the exact opposite of what you expect it to. A narrator arrives at an austere and beautiful but also quasi-cult-like school that just so happens to be in control of a mysterious substance? Well, obviously our plucky heroine is going to spend the majority of her time trying to unravel said mystery while also studying and maybe winning the affection of a cute but dull boy. Right? Doesn't that sound familiar?

Well, here, none of that happens. Certain things you'd think would feature largely end up being glossed over, while others, like the main mystery of the book - which is to do with plasm, a substance only the students in Catherine understand - are unveiled slowly, naturalistically with Ines not so much following clues or doing any gumshoeing, but rather watching, listening, and - here's a shocking one - having conversations with other students in an attempt to find out what's going on. And, I've got to say: I really, really loved that. I loved the freshness of that, and of how realistic it seemed. Of course a college student is going to be way more interested in partying than in some peripheral (but highly creepy) mystery. Of course the new and beautiful school campus that she finds herself in is going to occupy most of her thoughts in the beginning. And I get how some readers may find that frustrating, but I found that unique and refreshing. There are hundreds if not thousands of books out there with bright young things out to solve a mystery; there aren't many like this, with an unabashedly lazy and unmotivated main character, meandering her way through the plot.

And yes, that's exactly how it feels: the plot meanders in and out of view. There are long, long stretches without any mention of plasm. And yes, ultimately 80% of this book ends up being either atmospheric or creeping dread, while only 20% is plot related, but I felt this paid off wonderfully, both in the snapshot quality of the story and also in how hard the plot does hit when it enters the reader's view. There are some truly great reveals towards the end of the book; two scenes in particular gave me chills.

So yes again: I do think readers expecting a fast-paced, page-turner are going to be disappointed here. But if you're the type of reader who can settle in, and be led around the halls of this book by a character who's isn't plucky or all that "likable" (and to be frank, this is why I liked her) then I think you're in for a real treat with this book.
Was this review helpful?
I hate dnfing a book I agreed to review but after about 3 hours of trying to get into this, I had to put it down. 

The synopsis promises a page-turner full of suspense, but I found myself turning the page just to get to the end. 

The main character, Ines, is so unlikable. I just couldn't connect to her at all and it made it even harder to connect to the story.

Thomas has a beautiful writing style,  but this one just fell short for me. 

I received an advanced reader’s copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
Was this review helpful?
I wasn’t sure what to expect from Catherine House, and it ended up being very different from the types of books I usually read. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; I think it’s important to try new things and expand your horizons. But it also might partially explain why this one wasn’t for me.

The synopsis of this book compares it to Never Let Me Go. The two aren’t exactly the same, but I think it’s a fair comparison. Both take place in isolated boarding schools where something sinister is going on behind the scenes. Both elicited similar emotional reactions from me, a sort of melancholy feeling that’s hard to escape. And both were memorable and left an impression on me, even if the reading experience was unsatisfactory.

The protagonist, Ines, was the main drawback of Catherine House, which is another similarity to Never Let Me Go. I was not a fan of any of the characters in that book, nor was I fan of any of the characters in this one. But Ines, in particular, was an unsympathetic, closed-off, wishy-washy protagonist and I didn’t always enjoy being trapped inside her head. Her narration fit perfectly with the overall tone of the book, but that didn’t make me like her any more, and I can’t get through a book with an unlikable protagonist.

I would say the main draw of Catherine House is that it is a dark, unsettling, mysterious, and deeply atmospheric read. At first, I was intrigued by the house’s secrets and wanted to know more, which kept me reading. I was worried the development of the story would suffer due to its short length, but Elisabeth Thomas had plenty of time for vivid descriptions and the slow build of a general sense of unease. On the contrary, it was too long; the plot dragged, and by the end of Ines’ third year at Catherine, I knew I’d go crazy if I tried to read this book all the way through to the end.

I don’t think this is a bad book and I don’t think Thomas is a bad writer. Her use of descriptive language, her ability to evoke emotion, and the way she builds an immersive atmosphere are all hallmarks of a very talented writer. My problems with Catherine House are entirely subjective. If you’re a fan of Never Let Me Go or if you like the idea of a slow, weird, unsettling little book, you might love this one. But I didn’t.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you for allowing me a preview of this title. This was not the book for me. I finally had to give up at the 50% point. I didn't care for Ines or the school or what the school was doing. I just couldn't find any reason for me to continue. Best wishes and thank you.
Was this review helpful?