November 30, 2021

The Hawthorne School by Sylvie Perry

The Hawthorne School by Sylvie PerryThe Hawthorne School by Sylvie Perry
Published by Crooked Lane Books on December 7, 2021
Genres: Thriller
Pages: 304
Format: eBook
Goodreads
three-half-stars

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

About The Hawthorne School

THE HAWTHORNE SCHOOL by Sylvie Perry is a psychological thriller for fans of creepy schools and cults.

Claudia is a young, single mother with no family for support, only one friendly acquaintance, and Henry, her out-of-control four-year-old son. After constant run-ins with Henry’s pre-school over his behavior, Claudia’s at her wit’s end. Until Maggie, the acquaintance, tells her about The Hawthorne School, a private, non-traditional school.

When Claudia visits the Hawthorne School – its focus on nature, music, and art seems perfect for Henry. Zelma, the director of the school, explains that Claudia can volunteer in exchange for Henry’s tuition. It seems all too perfect. At first.

Then Claudia notices that things seem off. But Henry’s doing so well that she’s afraid to leave.

My thoughts about The Hawthorne School

An isolated, former convent in the woods gave the perfect unnerving atmospheric vibe for the slowly increasing tension. Secret tunnels, locked rooms, shadowy figures, forbidden woods and hidden ceremonies are the perfect creepy contrast with children in classrooms.

Zelma’s turns of being the kindly grandmother stand-in, then the emotional manipulator felt scarily authentic. The scenes where she gaslights Claudia were unnerving.

I wish the author had leaned harder into the Midsommar/Rosemary’s Baby vibe. Discovering what the school really is won’t shock the reader. It’s clearly telegraphed early on in the story. So discovering why it exists is the intriguing part of the plot and I’m not sure that the actual reveal is enough of a payoff.

No spoilers but I wish the book had ended a bit sooner on a more ambiguous note – all of the ends neatly tied up felt unsatisfying. And the final sentence just made me roll my eyes with its cheesiness.

In conclusion

If you’re looking for a quick read of a thriller using the dark academia trope, check out The Hawthorne School!

Thank you Crooked Lane Books for the ARC.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • GoodReads
  • NetGalley and Edelweiss Reading Challenge 2021
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