Cover Image: Catherine House

Catherine House

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Member Reviews

Whenever I read a book with a suspiciously low Goodreads rating I'm always all the more determined to love it - there's something kind of fun about being in the minority in really 'getting' a book that goes over so many heads.  Sadly not the case here.  While I didn't find this objectively terrible in any way, neither did I find it particularly special or pleasurable to read.

Following 18-year-old Ines who goes off to an experimental college, Catherine House subverts a lot of campus novel tropes.  Ines isn't characterized by a passion for academia or a thirst for belonging or a love for her school - she's socially and academically dispassionate to a fault.  Along with Ines's lack of drive is a particularly conspicuous lack of atmosphere, and I think the Kazuo Ishiguro and Sarah Waters comparisons do this book a disservice if you go into it expecting a lush, indulgent, immersive setting.

While I did feel that Thomas did a great job of building suspense, to the point where I read this book in two sittings because there was something rather hypnotic about it, I also didn't particularly care about what I was reading.  There's a mystery at the heart of the school's scientific research department, and I'm not sure whether the twist fell flat or whether I just was never invested enough to be moved by it.

Again, I don't think this was bad or even unsuccessful in what it set out to do, and I can see it working perfectly for a certain type of reader.  Sadly it just wasn't quite what I was looking for.

Thank you to Netgalley and Custom House for the advanced copy provided in exchange for an honest review.
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This novel read like a quieter, more atmospheric version of LAKEWOOD or WHEN NO ONE IS WATCHING, two of my favorite horror/thriller reads of 2020 so far. I got major Gothic vibes from this one and would recommend to readers missing that back-to-school feeling (as long as their idea of a back-to-school read is filled with creepy, secretive cult vibes on a crumbling old campus, of course).
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Unfortunately I just could not get into this one.  I found the characters not very likable and getting into the story takes to long.
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DNF at 35%. Very atmospheric but too slow going for me. Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for the advance reading copy.
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So, I did find this story rather unusual. For some time I didn’t completely know how I felt about it. The main character, Ines, a broken girl with a difficult past gets accepted to the elite 3 year college known as Catherine House. A mysterious college known to produce some of the 
most powerful people in the US. Their admissions process is so difficult, and so few people are accepted that the school doesn’t even charge tuition. Curriculum’s are so rigorous that some students don’t make it through the 3 year term.Ines comes to Catherine House wanting to forget her past and seemingly wanting to wipe out her future. Through the mysterious leader, Victoria, Ines is “reprogrammed”. Slowly, Ines begins to flourish, she finds a unique group of friends, and starts to embrace her studies. For the first time, in forever, she starts to feel something like happiness and a sense of belonging. Catherine House has its secrets and as hard as Ines tries she can’t stop herself from prying. There is an almost science fiction tone to this even though it probably wouldn’t be classified that way. The story and some of its elements were a little far out for me. It’s almost so strange that you want to keep reading it to try and figure out what is really going on. I could see this not appealing to everyone. The pervasive, destructive  alcohol abuse described is not something I find terribly appealing myself. Some elements are disturbing, if you can get through that the story is original and different from anything I have read recently. Review posted to Facebook, Litsy, LibraryThing, Goodreads, and Amazon.
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In the mysterious world of Catherine House, nothing else exists, except Catherine House. At least while you're there. Upon acceptance to the prestigious House, you're asked to give up the outside world for three full years. No summer break to return home to your parents, no holidays overseas. Give up three years of your life, give them to Catherine House - and you will be rewarded. The house (like a university, but not quite), has produced tech moguls, hollywood starlets, and heads of state. Success, that is what Catherine House promises. But how do they usher their graduates into such lives? And what about those experiments that were rumored to be happening? Something not quite right is happening at Catherine House, but in order to find out exactly what it is? You'll have to stay. 

Mysterious and winding, Elisabeth Thomas evokes the world of an imagined elite boarding school cum University that will have you wondering what exactly goes on beyond the hallowed halls of elite institutions, and how much you actually want to know.
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Having attended a small and weird liberal arts college, I of course was intrigued by a book about a mysterious school where no one comes in or out and may be mystical or haunted or something. The writing is great and really creates a rich atmosphere of being at an old, huge, secluded campus with byzantine rooms, courtyards, and opulent decor. However, I just wasn't buying what this book was selling. I didn't finish the entire book, but I just started getting major Scientology vibes and didn't really care what happened to the main character, Ines,  and I didn't want to hear about anymore darn cookies.
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Confusing, not very well written, dull. I did not enjoy this novel at all. I appreciate the opportunity to read and review.
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Thank you to NetGalley and HarperCollins Publishing for this Advanced Reading Copy.

This was a very strange book.  That being said, the plot and characters were well developed and I was very engaged to see how the story ended.  This book isn't quite what I expected at all.

Ines was accepted to Catherine House because they saw something special in her.  While she was there she discovered that Catherine House was very different from other colleges in the courses and the free room & board.  She tries to find out what is really going on at the school and is shocked by what she finds.

This is a very out there tale, but well done.
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I was able to read Catherine House in only a few sittings because of the addicting writing style. Elisabeth Thomas is an author is watch for and I will be reading more by her.

The well-done aspect within the novel was that the atmosphere of Catherine House was well crafted and it made the reader feel unsettled. It was easy to get sucked into the world of Catherine House, to want just like the characters to understand it and find out the main mystery.

The main aspect that lowered my rating was the ending. The big reveal was hard to follow and for me to completely understand. The sinister things going on at Catherine House are not explained or concluded in a way that left me as a reader sacrificed. I also struggled to connect with some of the characters, most of all Ines.

I recommend checking out this strange read for the beautiful writing and the atmosphere that sucks you in.


3.5 Stars Out of 5 Stars.
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This book was a big bummer for me. I was really looking forward to it, but the execution wasn't great. It didn't seem like there was much to the plot.
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I had very high hopes for Catherine House and was disappointed. Based on the description, I was expecting a Gothic thriller about an elite school and a big overarching mystery. But this ended up having no real plot or mystery. 
The author spent very little time world building and developing the characters. There were hints to a mystery and deep secrets at Catherine House but then the reader doesn't learn any more than that. The events of the book are described in such a detached way that the reader can not form any sort of attachment to the characters or the plot. 
Overall, great book in concept but poor execution.
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This book did not do it for me. I was SOOO looking forward to it.
It lacked so much. Catherine House is supposed to be a college you go to for succeeding.
For me all I saw was ALOT of eating, drinking, nudity, and casual sex.
Not that these things don't happen in all colleges, but this book was VERY confusing and I couldn't make sense of what was happening half the time.
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What a waste of time. I can't believe this book had such good major reviews. Terrible characters and nothing really happened. ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for a fair review.
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* Disclaimer: I received a copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. *

Dark, creepy, and super mysterious. This one was a weird read and I really enjoyed it. Fantastically gothic, including the setting of a crumbling and secluded school and a main character who appears to be a morally gray outsider. 

The setup for the school is unique and on the edge of having an evil feel and I loved it. Catherine is withering and full of odd corridors. The courses are a mix of traditional and oddly particular (i.e. Japanese Prints). The dean gives off spooky vibes and the mystery surrounding the students' progress through the program, where they are not allowed to leave or have any contact with the outside world, is continuously and progressively creepy. 

The writing is fully immersive, bringing forth such sensory detail that I felt pulled in and surrounded by the book. It is blunt, but at the same time secretive due to limited narration. The present is described wonderfully in terms of surrounding, but the approach is as if you are alongside the main character, only knowing what you're given. Ines is mysterious in herself and the vagueness of her history tugged at me for the entire read. I wanted to know more, but information was doled out in small pieces. This admittedly left me wanting, but was a fantastic device for keeping me hooked.

I could have used more character development and perhaps a deeper view into the mysteries of the school itself, but overall I had a great time being taken through this weird and ominous world. The ending was moderately satisfying, but unfortunately somewhat underwhelming. Absolutely worth the read, potentially worth a reread in order to see what little bits I didn't pick up on my first time through.
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I requested this book based on the blurb. I was intrigued by the idea of the school being completely different than what I think of when I think of schools, and I was intrigued by the mysterious disappearance of Ines's roommate, Baby, as described in the blurb.

This book was not what I thought it was going to be. I honestly did not enjoy this one at all.

Firstly, Ines is not a character that garners any kind of empathy from me. I didn't like her, didn't care about her success or failures, and I didn't really care to hear the story from her perspective. She claimed to care about her roommate, Baby, but I didn't see that built up in her characterization. She spends a large chunk of the book sleeping through classes and failing while claiming she doesn't want to flunk out. Totally contradictory and not at all believable.

Secondly, the story is mostly told through Ines and very little action is experienced by the reader. I felt like I was reading about everything that was happening but never getting to experience anything, which is a personal peeve when reading books. I prefer more dialogue and to be more included in the action as opposed to being told what is happening.

Thirdly, the entire premise of Catherine House and how they secure their claim to fame felt very confusing and outrageous to me. The basis of their research deals with plasma, and the experiments they did seemed pointless to me. I didn't really get it, I guess, and I had no interest in what they were doing.

Honestly, once I got to the 50% mark, I skimmed through just to see if anything actually happened, and I felt like I could have just stopped reading and still been as fulfilled as I felt by the end.

This book really just didn't do it for me. I wouldn't recommend it.
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The book started off strong. Ines and other arrive at a College called Catherine House where they will stay for three years studying and isolated from the outside world. The book follows Ines as she struggles to fit in, out run her past and keep up with her studies while drinking and sleeping around. Not much else happens in this book. There are hints of deeper mystery but they remain hidden. When I finished I was disappointed. The book felt unfinished.
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This book....I finished this book because I wanted to know where it ended up. Unfortunately, that was nowhere. There was no real rhyme or reason to the plot, you learn almost nothing about the house or the people. I'm really not sure where the author was going with this. The writing was just enough to where I wanted to keep reading but I just wasn't able to grasp the story.
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It seems maybe that fantasy type books aren't going to be my thing. From the first page I was confused as to what was going on and it just didn't get any better. The characters weren't relatable and I didn't understand where the author was trying to go. Maybe it was the background setting, maybe it was the plot, I'm not really sure. I wish the plot had been something else and maybe I would have enjoyed it more.
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This book was on my Netgalley shelf for a bit and I finally decided to read it after it help popping up in some of my FB book groups.  I was expecting so much more and was underwhelmed.   It was predictable and trying wayyyy too hard NOT to be,.    
Ines comes to the mysterious Catherine House, a three year college that spits out some of the finest, including Supreme Court Justices.   The students agree to basically be locked up at the college for all three years with no outside world contact.  Everything felt flat and contrived.  I forced myself to the end hoping it would get better and wish I would have left on my DNF pile.  I am giving two stars because it is a debut novel and the author certainly has promise.  The book just needed more fine tuning and better character development.

Thank you Netgalley for the ARC
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