“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
Trust us, you belong here.
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.
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.
About the Author
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.
"Elisabeth Thomas is a magician of a writer who expertly blends a deeply atmospheric boarding-school story with a futuristic sci-fi mystery in Catherine House. A grown-up, sophisticated version of Lois Duncan’s Down a Dark Hall, this dazzling debut will have you turning the pages late into the night."
— Angie Kim, bestselling author of Miracle Creek
“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, New York Times bestselling 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
"Spellbinding . . . Surreal imagery, spare characterization, and artful, hypnotic prose lend Thomas’s tale a delirious air, but at the book’s core lies a profound portrait of depression and adolescent turmoil. Fans of Donna Tartt’s The Secret History will devour this philosophical fever dream.”
— Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Catherine House is a page turner that is equal parts dark, dreamy, and disturbing.”
— POPSUGAR, 25 of the Best New Books to Add to Your Reading List This Spring
"For fans of Donna Tartt's The Secret History and Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go, Catherine House is a haunting, atmospheric reflection on the discovery of self and others. At times terrifying, always gorgeously captivating, Thomas’ debut is one not to be missed, and perhaps to be revisited frequently."
— Booklist (starred review)