Catherine House: A Novel

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When Ines is accepted to the exclusive, elusive three-year college Catherine House, she arrives with a high level of confusion and determination. On the run from a dark criminal secret, Ines has no choice but to go along with the odd rules and rituals that shape life at Catherine House. Though her classmates seem to buy into the chants and meditation-like sessions, Ines never sheds her skepticism. She’s especially wary of an academic concentration called New Materials, which no one can ever fully explain to her. She knows it’s a controversial discipline, but what worries her most is how the students involved tend to disappear into their studies. New Materials is all-consuming and obsession is the norm. But when Ines herself is tapped as a potential student in the field, she must reckon with what she knows–or wants to know. The consequences of her choice will shape the rest of her life.

Catherine House subverts expectations at every turn. Neither a campus novel nor a mystery exactly, it’s hard to say exactly what this novel is. By turns confusing and horrifying, with as many details left unsaid as laid bare, this isn’t a plot-driven story per se, though readers will find the pages turning as Ines traverses increasingly risky territory in her search for answers and fulfillment. Ines herself is a frustrating narrator, at once sharp and complacent, but her unreliability is outweighed by her tenacity. If anyone will find out the truth of Catherine House, Ines will. Readers just have to go along for the ride–and will be glad they did.

Reviewed By:

Author Elisabeth Thomas
Star Count 5/5
Format Hard
Page Count 320 pages
Publisher Custom House
Publish Date 2020-05-12
ISBN 9780062905659 Buy this Book
Issue July 2020
Category Popular Fiction


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