Someone told me if I loved The Secret History I would love Catherine House, and they were not wrong. This book was definitely not totally what I expected, but also somehow better? Plus,it was short-ish–320ish pages–and I love brevity! Wow, this book blew me away. A lot of the blurbs bill it as Secret History meets Never Let Me Go, and that definitely fits!
Catherine House isn’t your normal college. Instead of four years of fun and learning, you give the House your all for three years. No outside contact. None of your old clothes or books. A fresh start, a new learning environment where you will be tested and pushed and come out on the other side brilliant and spectacular. And Ines, our protagonist, is ripe for something new, after running away from a past she has no intention of returning to. But things at Catherine are…intense. Her roommate, Baby, is obsessed with getting into the concentration for a new material, plasm, and Ines has no idea how to help her as Baby slowly spirals.But when tragedy strikes, Ines will learn what it means to give yourself to Catherine, and she’ll have to decide how far she is willing to go for a home.
There’s a lot I love about this book, and I’ll talk about that more, but I just want to point out that I was about 15% of the way into this book, knowing nothing about the author or the ending, and I thought to myself “This author went to Yale.” I just knew it.I could feel it in the timbre of the story, somehow. And guess what? I was right. We a cult, okay?
Anyway, I loved this book! The idea of Catherine House is legit perfect for people like me who are aging up from YA but still love a good boarding school book. Catherine House feels like a rich world, like better than some fantasy novels I’ve read honestly. And yes, it’s short, but you get all three years in it, and it’s well done! You don’t have to see every moment of Ines life there to understand it, to feel it come to life. The pacing really worked for me.
I also loved just like her unstated but obvious bisexuality and raw sexuality in general–she likes having sex and being touched and that’s fine and helps the book feel real and I enjoyed that aspect of building Ines up, if that makes sense? This is like Alex Stern without the ghosts and shit, ya know?
The plasm thing was a little weird to me–and I don’t get it–but that’s fine, I still enjoyed it and those aspects just kept me guessing. Also, Theo…wow. Theo. Love me a good Theo, honestly, and his course over the novel was fascinating to follow. Should I fancast this book? I think I should, LOL.
Overall, I liked this book a lot! A five star read for me, and I cannot wait to recommend this to people all around!