Catherine House
A seductive, gothic-infused tale of literary suspense — the debut of a spectacular new voice — about a dangerously curious young undergraduate whose rebelliousness leads her to discover a shocking secret involving an exclusive circle of students . . . and the dark truth beneath her school’s promise of prestige.You are in the house and the house is in the woods.You are in the house and the house is in you . . . 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 its graduates a future of sublime power and prestige, and that they can become anything or anyone they desire. Among this year’s incoming class is Ines, who expects to trade blurry nights of parties, pills, cruel friends, and dangerous men for rigorous intellectual discipline—only to discover an environment of sanctioned revelry. The school’s enigmatic director, Viktória, encourages the students to explore, to expand their minds, to find themselves and their place within the formidable black iron gates of Catherine. For Ines, Catherine is the closest thing to a home she’s ever had, and her serious, timid roommate, Baby, soon becomes an unlikely friend. Yet the House’s strange protocols make this refuge, with its worn velvet and weathered leather, feel increasingly like a gilded prison. And when Baby’s obsessive desire for acceptance ends in tragedy, 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 that is connected to a secretive, tightly knit group of students selected to study its most promising and mysterious curriculum.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.

Catherine House Details

TitleCatherine House
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseMay 12th, 2020
PublisherCustom House
ISBN-139780062905659
Rating
GenreFiction, Mystery, Thriller, Gothic

Catherine House Review

  • Kat
    January 1, 1970
    ive heard from a trusted source that this book gives rotten fruit the appreciation it DESERVES and therefore, i am very excited to read it!!!! i’ve heard from a trusted source that this book gives rotten fruit the appreciation it DESERVES and therefore, i am very excited to read it!!!!
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  • Nilufer Ozmekik
    January 1, 1970
    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 trilogys murder mystery with just a little Hogswarts vibes. I have to emphasize that world 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.bloginstagramfacebooktwitter
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  • Chelsea Humphrey
    January 1, 1970
    This definitely won't be a book for everyone, but I have to say that I really enjoyed the weird, quirky attributes this story had to offer. Please do not confuse the author's brevity of content for writing that isn't fully expanded upon; each scene is a slow, dread inducing dance that marries mystery with sensuality. The revelations might not be shocking to the seasoned suspense reader, but I felt the overall draw is more in the luscious setting and character interactions that gave me a foggy This definitely won't be a book for everyone, but I have to say that I really enjoyed the weird, quirky attributes this story had to offer. Please do not confuse the author's brevity of content for writing that isn't fully expanded upon; each scene is a slow, dread inducing dance that marries mystery with sensuality. The revelations might not be shocking to the seasoned suspense reader, but I felt the overall draw is more in the luscious setting and character interactions that gave me a foggy sense of the space between waking and dreaming. If you enjoy books that leave you wondering what you just read, you can't miss Catherine House.*Many thanks to the publisher for providing my review copy.
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  • Diane S ☔
    January 1, 1970
    3.5. We are living in a unsettling and uncertain time. I think that is why I was drawn into this novel. Catherine House is a very unusual school. Past students of this school have graduated to become successes in many fields. Prospective students are thoroughly vetted, nine hour interviews, recommendations and these are gone over with a keen eye. Those accepted commit to three years, without the usual school vacations, leaving everything from their last behind. All food, clothing, supplies and 3.5. We are living in a unsettling and uncertain time. I think that is why I was drawn into this novel. Catherine House is a very unusual school. Past students of this school have graduated to become successes in many fields. Prospective students are thoroughly vetted, nine hour interviews, recommendations and these are gone over with a keen eye. Those accepted commit to three years, without the usual school vacations, leaving everything from their last behind. All food, clothing, supplies and medical are provided. Calls or letters home just be earned and paid for in points. The school provides an experimental liberal arts curriculum. Their real and very selective course is new materials, plasma studies.There is more to this school than meets the eye as Inez finds out. Getting in to this school was a surprise, but she has no intention of giving in to the atmosphere of the place. Though in truth, because of an incident in her past she has no where else to go. She forms friends and eventually learns the secret this school is hiding. A secret few know. So now what can Inez do?An insular school, fully funded with little or no oversight by outside sources. This was an entertaining in a strange way with a rather gothic toned atmosphere. Definitely took my mind off our current situation. Plasma the way it is used within might be effective now.
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  • Michelle
    January 1, 1970
    Believe me when I tell you that I tried to like this. I really, really did but I'm at 60% and I just can not force myself to keep reading this. For whatever reason my brain is struggling to understand what any of this is about. There is a lot of eating, drinking, nudity, and casual sex. I normally don't rate a DNF but I read over half of this son of a b and I feel that was enough to qualify a rating. "You are in the house and the house is in the woods. The woods are in the house. The stairs are Believe me when I tell you that I tried to like this. I really, really did but I'm at 60% and I just can not force myself to keep reading this. For whatever reason my brain is struggling to understand what any of this is about. There is a lot of eating, drinking, nudity, and casual sex. I normally don't rate a DNF but I read over half of this son of a b and I feel that was enough to qualify a rating. "You are in the house and the house is in the woods. The woods are in the house. The stairs are in the house. Down the stairs is the hallway, and at the end of the hallway is the ballroom. The ballroom is in the house. You are in the house and the house is in you." = um, whaaat? 🤨 "You are in the house and the house is in today. Today is not a moment. Today is not a point. Today is an infinite area. Today is forever. Everything that has happened and that will ever happen is now. Everything that has been and will be is here. And everything is good. Everything is fine. You are not sad. You are not afraid. You are not hateful. Because you are here. You are here. You are inside. And you are ready." = Ready to throw my kindle at the wall. 😒 "Your hands are on the table. The table is in the hall, across the yard, in the house. The house is in the woods. In the woods, across the yard, in your hands, is the cup. The cup is in your hands. Your hands are in the house." = My brain hurts 😵Anyhoo I tried. Maybe I will save others some valuable reading time. Also, according to other reviewers the end brings no resolution so, yeah. Thank you to NetGalley and HarperCollins for providing me with a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Nenia ☠️ Khaleesi of Bodice Rippers, Protector of Out of Print Gems, Mother of Smut, and Actual Garbage Can ☠️ Campbell
    January 1, 1970
    Update: AT LAST!!! I AM GETTING AN ARC! MUAHAHAHAHAHAOK not only is this a Gothic novel, it's got an academia setting.YES to the YES, YES, YES.I've applied to like three giveaways of this book on Goodreads. I want a copy SOOOO BAD. It sounds like everything I want in a book and I NEED it.Where's a working accio spell when you need one? :|
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  • Ash
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to NetGalley and HarperCollins Publishers for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.DNF ~40%.I wasnt sure what to expect from Catherine House, and it ended up being very different from the types of books I usually read. Thats not necessarily a bad thing; I think its important to try new things and expand your horizons. But it also might partially explain why this one wasnt for me.The synopsis of this book compares it to Never Let Me Go. The two arent exactly the Thank you to NetGalley and HarperCollins Publishers for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.DNF ~40%.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 at a certain point, 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 enjoyed 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.
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  • Chelsey
    January 1, 1970
    ⭐⭐⭐💫Im a total sucker for a creepy, private school novel and Catherine House did not disappoint. With gothic elements and a touch of sci fi, this one really sucked me in. Catherine is an extremely elite and mysterious school for kids to attend after high school. The school is free and provides all room and board, but the students are locked within its gates with no outside contact for three years. The studies are immensely challenging and some fields are even groundbreaking. As rigorous as ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫I’m a total sucker for a creepy, private school novel and Catherine House did not disappoint. With gothic elements and a touch of sci fi, this one really sucked me in. Catherine is an extremely elite and mysterious school for kids to attend after high school. The school is free and provides all room and board, but the students are locked within its gates with no outside contact for three years. The studies are immensely challenging and some fields are even groundbreaking. As rigorous as Catherine House is with education and workloads, it’s equally intense with its opportunities for partying, alcohol abuse, and sexual promiscuity.Ines is running. From her life, from her monsters and from the law. Unexpectedly, she’s admitted to the Catherine School and escaping her life and reality for three years is her perfect solution. But Ines can’t run from her inner demons and quickly falls behind at Catherine. “‘You must choose Catherine,’ he said. ‘Not just once, but every day. Choose to be here. Choose to study. To make friends. To succeed. To wake up every day and be alive, and go to work. It’s not an easy thing to do. It can be very hard. But you can do it. I know you can.’ He leaned forward, eyes unblinking. ‘The question is, do you want to? Or do you want to spend the next three years stupid and drunk?’”Deciding to “drink the Kool-Aid,” Ines immerses herself in Catherine House, it’s history, and its secrets and takes the reader on a dark and twisty journey in the process. Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review.
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  • Anna Luce
    January 1, 1970
    DNF 15% Here, no one knew who I was or what I'd done.Why, why, why, do the protagonists in these 'academia/campus' novels always have a dark secret related to their dark past? It would be different if the narrator mentioned their mysterious past later on in the narrative but here she alludes to it within the very first chapters...Plus, the narrator tries hard to be taken as this 'edgy, not like other girls girl' and I'm also kind of done with these type of characters:My hair slunk over my DNF 15% “Here, no one knew who I was or what I'd done.”Why, why, why, do the protagonists in these 'academia/campus' novels always have a dark secret related to their dark past? It would be different if the narrator mentioned their mysterious past later on in the narrative but here she alludes to it within the very first chapters...Plus, the narrator tries hard to be taken as this 'edgy, not like other girls girl' and I'm also kind of done with these type of characters:“My hair slunk over my shoulders in slutty waves that were dark with grease.”The above quote is an example of the cring-y writing that wants to be gritty but succeeds only in being laughable.The whole Catherine institution is presented in such obviously creepy terms: “You will give to Catherine, and Catherine will give to you. We will not let each other down.”I wonder whether Catherine is as idyllic as it seems...(expect I don't).All in all this novel combines cliché after cliché and offers this 'dark academia' genre nothing new or interesting. Catherine House rehashes well-worn elements and reminded me of Good Girls Lie and Tell Me Everything which also happen to be rather uninspired novels.If the writing in Catherine House wasn't so ludicrously silly I would try to read some more but life's too short.Read more reviews on my blog / / / View all my reviews on Goodreads
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  • Amy Imogene Reads
    January 1, 1970
    This is such a pretty ARC, and its giving me all kinds of Secret History and If We Were Villains vibes...and its blurbed by Rory Power. YES!Thank you to Custom House - William Morrow for an ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review. This is such a pretty ARC, and it’s giving me all kinds of Secret History and If We Were Villains vibes...and it’s blurbed by Rory Power. YES!Thank you to Custom House - William Morrow for an ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Vonda
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Blair
    January 1, 1970
    When I'm lining up forthcoming books I want to read, I tend to think of some as definites and some as maybes. I had Catherine House on the 'maybe' pile. I thought: elite university; newcomer with a secret; idyllic environment in which Things Are Not As They Seem these are themes and tropes I like, but they've been done a million times, and there's a good chance this will bring nothing new to the table. Boy, was I wrong about that: this is such a rich and intoxicating novel, and it turned out to When I'm lining up forthcoming books I want to read, I tend to think of some as definites and some as maybes. I had Catherine House on the 'maybe' pile. I thought: elite university; newcomer with a secret; idyllic environment in which Things Are Not As They Seem – these are themes and tropes I like, but they've been done a million times, and there's a good chance this will bring nothing new to the table. Boy, was I wrong about that: this is such a rich and intoxicating novel, and it turned out to be the perfect escapist read for these dark times.Catherine House is an exclusive institution – 'not a college, exactly', but something similar; a 'community of minds'. It's shrouded in mystery, but also well-respected, and has produced renowned inventors, prizewinning artists, and two US Presidents. Students choose a 'concentration', but the classes they take are esoteric, with titles like 'Literature of War' and 'Electricities'. Catherine provides clothes, toiletries and lavish meals as well as education and accommodation. The catch is that, for the three years they study there, Catherine residents cannot leave the campus or communicate with the outside world. This suits our narrator, Ines, just fine. She's on the run from a troubled past; for her, the ability to hide is just as appealing as Catherine's exceptional reputation.There's also a science fictional element. Catherine is home to a highly secretive and experimental research discipline known as 'new materials'. Working with 'plasm', these researchers can – so the rumours say – make broken objects whole again. Places in new materials classes are highly sought after, but other students learn little of what they involve. Even so, thermometer-like instruments called 'plasm pins' are used on people too, seemingly to draw out memories and/or reconfigure one's attitude.It all adds up to an exciting, addictive confection. I sailed through it, totally immersed. It is easy to read, but quite beautifully written, balancing on that line between gorgeous and overly whimsical. Every description of food is indulgent, and the details of Ines's golden days made me ache to be there. Ines is an interesting choice of protagonist: stories like this are typically narrated by an outsider, but she's very much part of the in-crowd – someone who really finds her place at Catherine and seems to be accepted and liked by everyone. I enjoyed what Thomas did with her character: giving depth to someone who, on the surface, is not all that likeable or relatable; cleverly making us understand that her frame of perception is being shifted by outside forces, all while holding us within it.Catherine House has a lot in common with Mona Awad's Bunny: it's less gory, but the wild strangeness and lush language are similar. There are also shades of Lara Williams' Supper Club (all that sumptuous food) and, as the sci-fi ingredient, Sara Flannery Murphy's The Possessions. It's lovely and weird and abundant, and I enjoyed it a lot.I received an advance review copy of Catherine House from the publisher through NetGalley.TinyLetter
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  • Kristy
    January 1, 1970
    Ines comes to Catherine House to leave her past behind. It's a dark past, with secrets and memories she'd rather forget. And that's good, because Catherine House is an institution that requires its students to give it three total years of their lives--leaving behind their families, television, music, and more. In return, they get a completely free education and the promise of a liberal arts background that has formed the minds of some very famous people: authors, inventors, presidents, and more. Ines comes to Catherine House to leave her past behind. It's a dark past, with secrets and memories she'd rather forget. And that's good, because Catherine House is an institution that requires its students to give it three total years of their lives--leaving behind their families, television, music, and more. In return, they get a completely free education and the promise of a liberal arts background that has formed the minds of some very famous people: authors, inventors, presidents, and more. Ines comes to Catherine House with few expectations and for the most part, fits in, forming a strange friendship with her uptight and studious roommate, Baby, and the other students in her freshman year. But when tragedy befalls Baby, Ines begins to wonder about the House and its strange rituals, many of them tied to its most famous concentration of study, plasma. "That was the Catherine experience: give the house three years--three profound, total years--then become anything or anyone you want to be. Watch all your dreams come true." This book totally stressed me out. I usually love a good boarding school novel (though technically these students are in their college years), but this was mostly just a bunch of kids drinking and occasionally attending weird classes. Why are there never normal people at these schools who just do their work and don't drink? Anyway, besides that pet peeve, this book was incredibly slow and nothing ever happened. This was mostly a story about a lot of frivolous kids at school with some weird scientific plasma stuff thrown in. It was incredibly difficult to care about Ines for most of the book--or any of the other characters--and truly, most of the plot. I thought about abandoning the book, but wanted to see if anything interesting ever happened with the scientific aspect. (No, not really.) The book sells itself as a mysterious ride, but it's more a character-driven novel. About lackluster, annoying characters. Now the last third was fairly enjoyable and somehow an irritating book with eh characters had a satisfying ending, but getting there was just painful. Thomas is a good writer and this is no doubt one of those smart books where not much happens that book critics will worship, but it didn't really work for me. 2.5 stars. Thank you to LibraryThing and Custom House for my copy. This book is on sale 5/12/2020. Blog ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram ~ PaperBackSwap ~ Smashbomb
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  • Renee (The B-Roll)
    January 1, 1970
    This book is set at a school between high school and college, unlike any other.  When you come to Catherine House you are expected to literally forget your life before, get rid of any physical attachments, and live at Catherine House for three years completely cut off and isolated from the world.  Apparently, this environment creates the best scholars.  Ines struggles to forget her past, as she is running from some very ugly things.  In her struggle she begins to do horribly in her studies, This book is set at a school between high school and college, unlike any other.  When you come to Catherine House you are expected to literally forget your life before, get rid of any physical attachments, and live at Catherine House for three years completely cut off and isolated from the world.  Apparently, this environment creates the best scholars.  Ines struggles to forget her past, as she is running from some very ugly things.  In her struggle she begins to do horribly in her studies, warranting a visit from the headmaster and a stay in the Tower to be "fixed."  Soon, Ines comes back a perfect student with friends and a life outside of her classes.  She eventually dates one of her friends and realizes that she can be happy.  Not until the past starts creeping back in, after her roommate and original friend Barbara "Baby" dies.  Ines quickly begins to realize that something a bit more sinister is happening at Catherine House and seeks to figure it out before it too late for her or any of her friends.This is one of those perfect autumn books:  there is a mystery, it a bit confusing and dreamlike, it is set at a secluded school tucked in the forest and cut off from the world, and some things just don't add up right.  I had a fun time reading this book and falling into Ines' world at Catherine House.  First, the way the book is written in terms of character development and plot movement is brilliant.  Very quickly you get to know Ines and Baby, as well as other characters as the story progresses.  The characters are well developed, well written, and the dialogue feels realistic.  I could see this book being made into a really really fun movie.  There was never a point for me while reading where I felt that the characters were too stiff or the plot wasn't believable.  One thing I didn't like was the overarching mystery of why and what Ines was running for in the beginning.  This does grab you, but by the middle of the book it all but disappears.  I wish there had been a bit more development of that detail or just a solid conclusion. For me, this book reads full of teenage angst.  It made me think of Catcher in the Rye in that angsty teenagers are living together at school and learning to break free from what culture tells them while also learning laws of the world.  Don't get me wrong, these two books don't really connect in any other way; I was just reminded of Holden's worldview and indifference and my brain contrasted that with Ines.What takes the cake for me is the lush setting of Catherine House, the almost dilapidated house and wings, and the overarching sinister, weird, and gloomy feeling of the setting.  You can almost feel the trees and forest choking the house and how cut off and protected it must feel.  Pair this with giving up three years of your life to be there and being cut off from culture, family, and outside friends and you have a very interesting plot and setting!  But really though, these elements combine to help create the setting for a great story.Last but not least, the ending really got me.  I am not sure I like the ending as it is because it almost seems to take away from the rest of the story and the power of Catherine House.  At the same time, it helps reveal facts about Catherine House such as why the structure itself was in such disrepair and the overall status of the school.  Either way you look at it, either still seem to adjust the power of Catherine House to the reader and make you rethink what you thought about the school when you started reading the book.Overall, this book was fantastic!  From the beginning I had a feeling that this would be a good one and I don't think I was wrong!  This book is due to be published May 12, 2020 and I am excited to see what other readers think about it!
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  • Nursebookie
    January 1, 1970
    This book is an atmospheric gothic, scifi, YA/ New Adult, sinister boarding school, mystery read. The Catherine House is a super selective and highly coveted school that produces the best minds from their graduates. Because of their very large endowment, tuition is free, but no phones, internet or any contact with the outside world including families for three years. The story is centered around Ines who is running away from her past. The story is seen through her eyes. A slow burn mystery This book is an atmospheric gothic, scifi, YA/ New Adult, sinister boarding school, mystery read. The Catherine House is a super selective and highly coveted school that produces the best minds from their graduates. Because of their very large endowment, tuition is free, but no phones, internet or any contact with the outside world including families for three years. The story is centered around Ines who is running away from her past. The story is seen through her eyes. A slow burn mystery unfolds about an ongoing research on campus about plasma and the mysterious death of a student. The protagonist is an unlikable character who is lazy, undermotivated, skips class, parties and sleeps around with her male and female classmates. Quite the unique heroine. I found the writing to be lyrical, existential and poetic which leads to beautiful descriptions however losing this reader to the muddy plot and delivers a storyline as mysterious as the deaths. I found myself with more questions than answers as the story delves into deep symbolisms that strayed me. I find that many readers may enjoy this type of writing and to still give this read a go. If you like gothic boarding house reads with angst this one is for you. I however enjoyed tapping into this new to me genre.
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  • The Artisan Geek
    January 1, 1970
    18/3/20Really enjoyed this dark and gothic read! Also had a wonderful time chatting to Elisabeth herself about the book! :D13/3/20A huge thank you to Custom House for gifting me a copy of this book, really up for some dark academia! :)You can find me onYoutube | Instagram | Twitter | Tumblr | Website
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  • Stacy Fetters
    January 1, 1970
    "We know not to fear death. Because even in death, there is life. Death is not the black night, but its white moon. The honeyed egg of rebirth."This was one of those debut novels that I knew that I needed to read sooner rather than later. Ive tried my damndest to get my hands on an early copy and I finally succeeded. From the first couple of lines you know that you have something special and by a couple of pages I knew that I was hooked. This is one of my favorite books this year! Elisabeth "We know not to fear death. Because even in death, there is life. Death is not the black night, but its white moon. The honeyed egg of rebirth."This was one of those debut novels that I knew that I needed to read sooner rather than later. I’ve tried my damndest to get my hands on an early copy and I finally succeeded. From the first couple of lines you know that you have something special and by a couple of pages I knew that I was hooked. This is one of my favorite books this year! Elisabeth starts off and makes you feel comfortable. Then when you think everything is okay, she turns the tables and makes you question everything. You’ll start to feel haunted by this captivating tale. It’s one of those books that creeps up your spine and engulfs you wholly. You’ll never be the same again. Catherine House is the gothic mystery of literary fiction that will unsettle you. I loved the way the book was written and how it made me feel/think as I was reading. My brain is still swirling after I finished it. This is a story that Jordan Peele wishes he would have written.
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  • Erin A. Craig
    January 1, 1970
    What a phenomenal debut! I really loved the voice spare and poignant, sharp and ruthless. I loved discovering the mystery of Catherine House, learning the secrets behind all those silk wallpapered walls. Will absolutely recommend to everyone! What a phenomenal debut! I really loved the voice— spare and poignant, sharp and ruthless. I loved discovering the mystery of Catherine House, learning the secrets behind all those silk wallpapered walls. Will absolutely recommend to everyone!
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  • Jessie Sedai of the Black Ajah🥀🐍
    January 1, 1970
    I don't think I'm smart enough to enjoy this book.It reminded me of art history class - staring at priceless scribbles for hours and rolling my eyes when the professor would say "the artwork is not on the canvas, it's how it makes you feel."Well, this book left me feeling profoundly confused, disturbed, and a little grumpy, primarily for the lack of payoff after a buildup that is stretched day in and day out over the course of three years of college. And for all of the mystery and intrigue of I don't think I'm smart enough to enjoy this book.It reminded me of art history class - staring at priceless scribbles for hours and rolling my eyes when the professor would say "the artwork is not on the canvas, it's how it makes you feel."Well, this book left me feeling profoundly confused, disturbed, and a little grumpy, primarily for the lack of payoff after a buildup that is stretched day in and day out over the course of three years of college. And for all of the mystery and intrigue of the cult-school vibes that I was anticipating, the meat of it was largely mundane, which was amplified even more by the most aloof, careless, nonexistent main character I've ever read. This girl just gave zero fu**s, but not in a cool way. In a frustrating way. In a, "why aren't you calling the cops", "why are you letting this happen" kinda way. This girl has literally no self-preservation. She sees some wacky, crazy, messed up things happening to her and the people around her and she just goes about her day.There has to be a message here - one overarching premise that I'm too ignorant to understand. The book is deep - it hints at very existential, critically theoretical ideas about the self, identity, the universe. People and things are all connected, we are all just dumb little finger puppets of a singular almighty existence that we don't even know is there. And I will admit that I was transfixed for a majority of this story, because I love love LOVE weird, dystopian, culty stories reminiscent of Twilight Zone or Black Mirror. But the climax fizzled out and I didn't get the answers I needed to feel satisfied. And the ending left me wondering what the point of all of it was. I say these things like it's a negative thing but I find myself thinking about this book constantly after finishing, trying to put the pieces together. And that's the point of stories I guess - to linger with you. So I guess it did its job. Thank you to netgalley for a digital copy in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Aga Durka
    January 1, 1970
    Catherine House is a unique and quirky story that unfortunately will not be to everyones taste. As much as I enjoy boarding school setting, including all the young adult drama, this book had a science fiction theme that I just did not get. As much as I tried to understand the authors exploration and symbolization of this part of the plot, I could not wrap my head around it. I quickly became disengaged from the story and even though I was interested in all the characters comings and goings, I Catherine House is a unique and quirky story that unfortunately will not be to everyone’s taste. As much as I enjoy boarding school setting, including all the young adult drama, this book had a science fiction theme that I just did not get. As much as I tried to understand the author’s exploration and symbolization of this part of the plot, I could not wrap my head around it. I quickly became disengaged from the story and even though I was interested in all the characters’ comings and goings, I couldn’t care less for the “experimentations” described in this book. I loved this book's synopsis and I had high hopes for it, unfortunately I was just not the right audience for this book.Thank you NetGalley, Custom House publishing and the author for providing me with an ARC copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.
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  • Samantha
    January 1, 1970
    A wildly impressive debut. Emphasis on the wild part. But quietly wild, if youll permit such a typically incongruous combination of words. The book is quietly wild in the way that the best gothic build books are. This is indeed a slow burn (even the climax is more of a sinister simmer than an explosive denouement), but like all solid gothic, it boasts an off-the-charts sense of atmosphere and setting. The plot is more suspense/coming-of-age than true gothic horror (Think Donna Tartt mixed with A wildly impressive debut. Emphasis on the wild part. But quietly wild, if you’ll permit such a typically incongruous combination of words. The book is “quietly wild” in the way that the best gothic build books are. This is indeed a slow burn (even the climax is more of a sinister simmer than an explosive denouement), but like all solid gothic, it boasts an off-the-charts sense of atmosphere and setting. The plot is more suspense/coming-of-age than true gothic horror (Think Donna Tartt mixed with Anna Pitoniak), but Thomas has shown in her first effort that she is a master of macabre. The eponymous Catherine House is a creepy, crumbly setting that delights and unsettles, playing heavily on anachronism and a haunting sense of place.There are no true “haunts” here and the villains of the story are 100% human, though their experiments are not exactly real world stuff. Speaking of said experiments, I’m still wondering exactly what plasm is, though I don’t think this vagary particularly detracts from the narrative in the end. There are other plot points also left open-ended, though none left me feeling at all unsatisfied. Catherine House is a strange tale that doesn’t fit the mold exactly for fans of the gothic or thriller or suspense genres, but it employs many well-rendered elements of all three. Elisabeth Thomas can now count me as an enthusiastic fan of her work.Trigger warning: There is some animal testing in the book, though as someone who is ultra-sensitive to animal abuse triggers, I was not bothered by what was included here. *I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.*
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  • Andrea Arterbery
    January 1, 1970
    ***Thank you to HarperCollins Publishers for allowing me access to this ARC via Netgalley.***Let me start off by saying that I really wanted to like this novel more than I did. I love to support minority authors whenever possible. Also, I consider myself to be a huge nerd that loves school (I'm still in it working towards my PhD!) and that's a major reason as to why I chose this one. Catherine House itself is actually a school. It's like a fancy boarding school located in the middle of nowhere ***Thank you to HarperCollins Publishers for allowing me access to this ARC via Netgalley.***Let me start off by saying that I really wanted to like this novel more than I did. I love to support minority authors whenever possible. Also, I consider myself to be a huge nerd that loves school (I'm still in it working towards my PhD!) and that's a major reason as to why I chose this one. Catherine House itself is actually a school. It's like a fancy boarding school located in the middle of nowhere (i.e. the deep woods of Pennsylvania) for young people. At least, that's what it seemed like from my initial read of the plot synopsis. However, it turns out to be the opposite. We learn about Catherine House through the eyes of Ines Murillo. The reader figures out early that Murillo has a past, but exactly what that encompasses isn't very clear. But, one thing is clear: Murillo is at Catherine House to escape it. She applies and is surprised to find out about her acceptance into the legendary school. People who successfully finish the program at Catherine House usually go onto successful lives within their fields of choice. The only stipulation is that they leave everything behind (i.e. music, clothes, family and friends) to stay at the Catherine House for three years (summers included) in order to complete the entire program. Murillo seems to have no problem with this. She's got a shady past and seems open to doing whatever is asked of her - well, aside from the actual "school part," that is. Catherine House has a demanding liberal arts curriculum for the students, but they also have lots of freedom to do whatever they want. They're given alcohol despite being underage and allowed to have sex with each other as much as they like. I did find this to be slightly disconcerting, but I guess these type of freedoms make sense if you want a young adult to actually stay put for a long period of time. Without giving any spoilers, Murillo is a weird character. I couldn't quite figure her out and I found her actions to be frustrating at times. I think this book would have been a better read if the author wrote from the story from multiple points of view. Most of the characters she created were way more interesting to me than Murillo herself. I also didn't like the ending of this book at all. Overall, this was a disappointing read for me.
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  • Rachel
    January 1, 1970
    Unfortunately, I had to DNF this one. I rarely, if ever, dont finish a book but this one I just couldnt get through. It really sucks because I was so excited to read this one because the synopsis gave me Ninth House vibes. This story just didnt go anywhere. It was so repetitively boring. I made it through 50% and I honestly couldnt tell you what happened. Nothing did. The writing was very choppy, vague, and unexciting. I hate to say this but this one is worth passing on. I really didnt get Unfortunately, I had to DNF this one. I rarely, if ever, don’t finish a book but this one I just couldn’t get through. It really sucks because I was so excited to read this one because the synopsis gave me Ninth House vibes. This story just didn’t go anywhere. It was so repetitively boring. I made it through 50% and I honestly couldn’t tell you what happened. Nothing did. The writing was very choppy, vague, and unexciting. I hate to say this but this one is worth passing on. I really didn’t get anything from it and after forcing myself to read to the 50% mark, I was completely disappointed. Not worth it.
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  • Dennis
    January 1, 1970
    Very, very slowwith little to no action (in my opinion). The story building and gothic vibes were very immersive. Very, very slow—with little to no action (in my opinion). The story building and gothic vibes were very immersive.
  • Mel
    January 1, 1970
    **I received a copy of this book from Netgalley.**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 **I received a copy of this book from Netgalley.**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.
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  • Jessica (BlogEared Books)
    January 1, 1970
    I went through quite a few emotions while reading this but the one feeling that stay consistent was confusion. I just finished it and am so confused and honestly a little frustrated that I read the whole thing, hoping for something that made any kind of sense. I love boarding house books- and when this book began I got a "Down a Dark Hall" vibe- my favorite book by Lois Duncan. The house was spooky, each person in the house seemed to have a certain talent and they referred to the house as if it I went through quite a few emotions while reading this but the one feeling that stay consistent was confusion. I just finished it and am so confused and honestly a little frustrated that I read the whole thing, hoping for something that made any kind of sense. I love boarding house books- and when this book began I got a "Down a Dark Hall" vibe- my favorite book by Lois Duncan. The house was spooky, each person in the house seemed to have a certain talent and they referred to the house as if it was alive. I was intrigued. But then a bunch of weird details were thrown in, I guess just because. I thought I'd get some answer at the end but came up blank. This was supposed to be a very strict school that strips you of your past but one of the students would wear new clothing items every day that she took from the daily shipments?? Why do they have days of only desserts? Why are all of the students plied with alcohol day and night? After I realized this wasn't an updated version of Down a Dark Hall, I really got a connection to the book The Ruins by Scott Smith. The island comes alive- well they kept referring to the house "I am the house" chants... Ok, so I never got any answers about that either. And the chant wasn't spooky or believable. It was just weird. Then we find out the main character (i don't even remember her name) has a sordid past - insert Alex Stern from Ninth House. But Alex is a badass and What's her name is clearly damaged and full of bad decisions but not really all that clever or brave. She is sexually fluid, which made me think a little of Wilder Girls by Rory Power... Sigh I didn't find a lot of individuality. The parts that didn't remind me of other books were just confusing. Lots of details that never seemed to matter. No real explanation for ANY OF IT. I hate being negative about books- I think authors are magical and doing something that I can never do which is write a novel! But in this case, this book did not work in any way for me. Thank you #netgalley and #randonhouse for the complimentary ARC of #catherinehouse for an unbiased review.
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  • Kristen
    January 1, 1970
    So, it just didn't work for me. I'm not sure to whom they are going to market this book, but it certainly shouldn't be for adults. This is an easy read with uncomplicated ideas, and has more of a young adult feel. Even so, I didn't really connect with the characters or the plot the characters and the story are just not really compelling. There are several plotlines that just do not play out well, especially the most important one of "plasma." I can appreciate the attempt, but the execution So, it just didn't work for me. I'm not sure to whom they are going to market this book, but it certainly shouldn't be for adults. This is an easy read with uncomplicated ideas, and has more of a young adult feel. Even so, I didn't really connect with the characters or the plot — the characters and the story are just not really compelling. There are several plotlines that just do not play out well, especially the most important one of "plasma." I can appreciate the attempt, but the execution falls flat. On the back of the book, it states that Catherine House is in development for television. This would be a perfect show for the CW or Freeform, and that should tell you everything you need to know about this book.
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  • Lacey
    January 1, 1970
    I am in the house, I said. My hands are on the table. The house is in the woods.3 starsOkay, my feelings on this one are kind of a mixed bag, so it took me a couple of days to untangle them. On the whole, I liked the book. But, of the ~300 pages, I spent about half of them bored and waiting for the action to pick up.The book begins at the start of Ines' first of three years at Catherine House, one of the most exclusive and prestigious colleges in the US. The school is infamous for both its I am in the house, I said. My hands are on the table. The house is in the woods.3 starsOkay, my feelings on this one are kind of a mixed bag, so it took me a couple of days to untangle them. On the whole, I liked the book. But, of the ~300 pages, I spent about half of them bored and waiting for the action to pick up.The book begins at the start of Ines' first of three years at Catherine House, one of the most exclusive and prestigious colleges in the US. The school is infamous for both its notable alumni and the controversial research published by one of its professors on a mysterious substance called plasm. We don't know anything about this substance, except that it is exclusively Catherine's Thing™ and is studied as part of the college's new materials concentration. The school itself is pretty weird. It only takes three years to graduate, during which time there are no summer breaks (or breaks of any kind) and students aren't allowed to have any contact with the outside world. There are no TVs, wifi, cell phones, newspapers, or letters to/from home. Students aren't allowed to have more than one or two personal objects from before, and all students are provided the same plain clothing and hygiene products. It's like a prison, but not. Ines is at Catherine because she has no place else to go and she is trying to run away from her past. Though she is distant at first, she ends up connecting with several of her peers at the school who chose to attend Catherine for similar reasons as she did. While at Catherine, Ines also develops a sort of preoccupation with plasm, needing to understand exactly what it is. I won't spoil anything, but let's just say the book's ending didn't surprise me, and I kind of knew what was coming from pretty early on. I don't necessarily think that that's a bad thing in this case, but having such a strong feeling about how the book was going to end made getting through the boring parts kind of tedious; I wasn't rushing to get through the book just so I would know how it ends. I will say this, though: I really liked Elisabeth Thomas' writing, and I felt like she told the story through the voice as much as she did through the actual words. You feel Ines' numbness through the author's stark words. If I'm being honest, I probably enjoyed the writing more than I did the story, and it's because of the writing alone that I'll probably pick up a future book by the author.
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  • Elaine
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to NetGalley for an ARC of Catherine House. To paraphrase the words of my awesome comedic namesake, Elaine Benes from Seinfeld, "Catherine House was 'like a big budget movie that went nowhere.'"Don't get me wrong; the premise was promising, as was the writing. I was eager to read this.I enjoyed Kazuo Ishiguros Never Let Me Go, its creepy, unsettling 'something is wrong but you can't quite put your finger on it' uneasiness, but Catherine House never really gets there, mostly because Thank you to NetGalley for an ARC of Catherine House. To paraphrase the words of my awesome comedic namesake, Elaine Benes from Seinfeld, "Catherine House was 'like a big budget movie that went nowhere.'"Don't get me wrong; the premise was promising, as was the writing. I was eager to read this.I enjoyed Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, its creepy, unsettling 'something is wrong but you can't quite put your finger on it' uneasiness, but Catherine House never really gets there, mostly because the characters are so flat, the narrative wanders and lacks consistency.Take Inez, for example. The main character, the heroine, if you will: she is lazy, unambitious and dull as dishwater. How can I believe she was smart enough to do all the 'paperwork' required to get into this creepy, prestigious school? That's the problem, I don't.There's nothing delicious, or steamy or sexy, about this book. In fact, most of the blatant eroticism felt off and contrived, like all the bed hopping (I get it, we're talking about hormonal teenagers here), the constant nudity, the high intake of sweets (I love sweets, which may be why I noticed how Inez always describes the copious amounts of dessert at each meal), the drinking (yes, yes, I know, teenagers).There's very little exposition, and when there is, its rambling, off-topic, almost stream of consciousness-like, which threw me off the narrative and left me more confused than before.I didn't get a sinister or unsettling vibe here; mostly, I kept thinking, "What's the point of all this?" And when I got to it, I just thought, "Oh...okay. Now what?"Where's the darkness? The foreboding? The horror of plasm and what they are capable of?There are many supporting and minor characters, but no one truly stands out. I can't recall anyone's name besides Inez and Baby. The premise had potential, and the author can write, but the truth about Catherine House was murky, the sinister edge never fully developed and the tone lacked suspense and tension.I wavered between one or two stars but settled for my popular one star review because despite the potential of the plot, the characters and construction of the premise left me wanting. I can't recommend this to anyone.
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  • Dannii Elle
    January 1, 1970
    Catherine House is a college that produces greatness. Those who leave its hallowed halls do so with blazing glory in their future but are oddly tight-lipped about their past. The students there are cut off from the outside world for the entire three years of their stay and pay no price for the education and board they receive. Funding keeps the school alive, as do the mysteries surrounding it. I thought this was going to be a dark academia story, following pretentious scholars and their dark Catherine House is a college that produces greatness. Those who leave its hallowed halls do so with blazing glory in their future but are oddly tight-lipped about their past. The students there are cut off from the outside world for the entire three years of their stay and pay no price for the education and board they receive. Funding keeps the school alive, as do the mysteries surrounding it. I thought this was going to be a dark academia story, following pretentious scholars and their dark deeds but I never imagined that the school itself would become the central source of intrigue. Protagonist Ines has her own tragic past she is running from, as does every other student to grace the college confines, but they pale in comparison to those of the school and its leaders. Exactly what these secrets are is revealed yet never truly explained, leading this to feel like a strange fever dream of a novel, where nothing can be trusted as truth and everything is experienced in a dream-like haze that disallows the reader to get close to the heart of the matter.I have no words to adequately describe the unsettling experience of reading this novel. I think I enjoyed it and I certainly couldn't put it down. It held me at a distance but I believe this was a purposeful decision on the author's part. It was a sordid fairy tale, a dark academia insight, and a twisted Wonderland trip all in one. I grew to love and to fear the contents as Ines did and left the novel no more certain of what occurred but definitely invested in it, nonetheless.I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to the author, Elisabeth Thomas, and the publisher, Tinder Press, for this opportunity.
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