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Catherine House: Book summary and reviews of Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas

Catherine House

A Novel

by Elisabeth Thomas

Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas X
Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas
  • Readers' rating:

  • Publishes in USA 
    May 12, 2020
    320 pages
    Genre: Novels

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About this book

Book Summary

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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A gothic-infused debut of literary suspense, set within a secluded, elite university and following a dangerously curious, rebellious undergraduate who uncovers a shocking secret about an exclusive circle of students ... and the dark truth beneath her school's promise of prestige

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.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Elisabeth Thomas had me mesmerized from the first page. Dreamy and brimming with dread, Catherine House will swallow you whole." - Rory Power, New York Times bestselling author of Wilder Girls

"With this astonishing debut, Elisabeth Thomas has conjured an immersive, intoxicating world that left me as reluctant as its characters were to leave it behind. I inhaled the novel in a single, glorious weekend, but Catherine House and its denizens will linger with me for a very long time." - Robin Wasserman, author of Girls on Fire

"Thomas's debut novel is a dark, delicious gothic read that hits all the right spots in the best way. If you want a book you can't put down for even a second, this is it." - Forbes, The 10 Most Anticipated Books Of 2020

The information about Catherine House shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Reader Reviews

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Mary O. (Boston, MA)

Unsettling page turner!
I love debut novels and this was mesmerizing. It held my attention from the first page! The backdrop of Catherine House is haunting and disturbing and you feel like you are an actor in it yourself. If you like disturbing gothic mysteries, this book is for you!

Marie J. (Naples, FL)

Interesting.
I found this book very interesting even though I was told I didn't have to read it. It has my attention to the end. I seldom guessed what was going to happen. Subject matter was not something I would have chosen to read about as I'm not always comfortable with it. I found the characters well developed and became involved with their personalities. I would have liked more information on the main character. One objection that I had about the book was the degree of immorality. I don't have a problem if a book has some immorality in it but I thought this was excessive. I didn't see where it added at all to the character of the book or the purpose of the book if there was a purpose. this might make me hesitate to recommend it to some of my fellow readers.it did not prevent me from reading the book and reasonably enjoying it. I do not think that the fact of where it took place and how old the characters were that it would prevent anyone from consider it a good read.

Linda M. (Lititz, PA)

Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas
I really enjoyed what I would describe as a YA mystery. There was a good plot and background, lots of twists and turns in between the pages. I found the construction of the characters personalities very interesting. The dynamics of roommates at the school and friends was a great plot and mystery itself.

Brad B. (Tucson, AZ)

So Much Here.
How I feel about the book 3 stars; how I thought about the book 4.5 starts. "Catherine House" is somewhere in between (or nowhere near at all) Bardugo's "Ninth House" and Tartt's "Secret History" but more Gothic.
Thomas's genius is apparent in her ability to construct and develop a place, mood, and overall vibe see: spooky and enigmatic. The plot is too slow for the average fan of thrillers and too meandering in the unknown for most but I enjoyed getting lost in the esoteric details.

Jennie R.

Impressive first novel...
I was impressed with the book overall; finishing in two days, as I found the story compelling, almost seductive. A school students attend for three years straight, with an almost guaranteed future, but with no contact from the outside and no visitors and no belongings of their own. You know there has to be a catch. The faded grandeur that was Catherine House, the brokenness of the students, and then, the plasm pins...all contributed the creepiness. I had vivid mental pictures of many of the main characters, Ines, Baby, Yaya, Theo and of course, the enigmatic Viktoria. And while I found none of them at all likable, they were interesting, edgy and smart. I left the book with a number of unanswered questions and while one part of me wanted to know more, I have an appreciation for authors who leave things to the readers’ imaginations.

Darcy C. (San Diego, CA)

Good but could have been great
I liked this book very much. I wanted more than the author would give me. I wanted to know more about the main character's life. What made her dark and edgy? More about her relationship with her parents, her family life.

I was able to imagine a fascinating old school and the author gave vivid descriptions of different buildings and various hiding places. The other students at the University were intriguing and I desperately wanted to know more about them and get to know them better. They felt two-dimensional, rather flat.

My overall description of this book is that the author didn't flesh out the characters enough. What made them tick? When the students were in the tower for "getting their attitude straightened out" I wanted to know more about the tower. Again, not enough description to flesh out the tower and its place at the school both figuratively and literally. I thought this was an opportunity to tell more about the tower and if students were afraid of it and if people were different after coming out of the tower.

The overall story completely captivated my attention. The protagonist was very likable and her friends were really interesting, as well. I believe if the author fleshed out the characters more in the story --- this book would have been excellent. Overall a terrific book to read.

...17 more reader reviews

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Author Information

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. This is her first novel.

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