Book Review: Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas

Title: Catherine House

Author: Elisabeth Thomas

Page Count: 320

Publication Date: 5/2020

Rating: 2/5 stars

I almost always finish books. Up until earlier this year, I considered it a personal failure to DNF a book, no matter how bad it was. But sometimes, I come across a book that makes me want to like it enough to go through the trouble of reading it.

That was definitely the case with Catherine House. I bought it during the earlier months of the pandemic but decided to read it in October since it felt like a good fall read. And maybe it was for someone, but definitely not me.

****

Catherine House tells the story of Ines, a young woman who once had a promising future but messed it all up. Catherine House, a prestigious school for “gifted” students, is her chance to run away from her rough past in exchange for three years of her life. No more of her own clothes, music, or access with her old world. Just everything Catherine House has to offer.

Sounds interesting, right? I thought so too.

****

Elisabeth Thomas is excellent at creating an immersive world with her words. Every time I opened the book, I was immediately sucked into the mysterious gothic Catherine House and all of the special, thoughtfully fleshed out characters she created.

Ines, in particular, stood out positively, and it had everything to do with her flaws. We know every protagonist has a flaw or issue to overcome in their journey. Although the ending left me with my questions then answers, I enjoyed riding out the Catherine House experience in Ines’s mind.

Where this story lost me was with the way it dragged out. For a reasonably short book, it shouldn’t have taken so long for it to get going. The thoughtful vignettes were appreciated, but I don’t know if they made up for this book’s dangerously slow pace.

What held me was the secretive curriculum the school was known for, but honestly, the reveal took so long that I really didn’t care by the time I got to it. The ending was great but abrupt, a sharp contrast to the book’s slow pace, and I still don’t know how to feel about it.

****

If this story was written in a way that truly spoke to me, Catherine House would be one of those books I thought about long after turning the last page. Especially considering the end.

With that said, I would read another book by Elisabeth Thomas. And probably cross my fingers that she picks up the pace instead of writing a book where things happen for a long time until the big thing happens right at the end.

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