Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Book Review: Thorn Abbey, by Nancy Ohlin

Thorn Abbey was a difficult book to take seriously. I found it predictable and mostly just silly.

Tess is just starting out at a new boarding school, Thorn Abbey. Her roommate is Devon. She soon discovers that Devon's former roommate, Becca, died while at Thorn Abbey. And she also discovers Max, a great, cute, nice guy -- who was also Becca's boyfriend when she died.

This is supposed to be a mystery. We're supposed to wonder what happened to Becca, and why everyone thinks Max is devastated and inconsolable -- when Tess doesn't see him that way.

All the students at the school are mysterious. They are nice to Tess one day and pretty evil the next. But (stupid) Tess falls for every trick. They make her look bad over and over, and every time she just walks right into it.

And, her relationship with Max takes over the story -- and it is REALLY annoying. She is in love with him on one page, and then the next encounter, she's wondering what is wrong, and why he hates her. Is he going to break up with her? Why did he kiss her? Does he still love Becca? This back and forth goes ON and ON way too long.

There's also a subtle paranormal aspect, that sneaks in very seldom, then, BAM the ending when it is all revealed. Much of Thorn Abbey was predictable, and the parts that were a surprise were...well...surprising. And not always in a good way. Kind of off the wall and disconcerting. I felt these surprises were used for the shock value. I know that sounds weird, because surprises are supposed to be shocking. But I can't explain it without spoiling.

I had difficulty not laughing during the ending, which was supposed to be sad. I just felt like, "Really? Of course, I should have guessed it, after reading all of this story...." I didn't buy into the emotional at all.

I always try to give a recommendation for some reading population. Thorn Abbey is easy to read. I guess I would recommend Thorn Abbey  to an inexperienced reader who won't be able to pick up on the cliches and predictability. A love of boarding school stories will help too.

Published by Simon Pulse, May 7, 2013
eARC obtained from Edelweiss
304 pages

Rating: 2/5

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  1. Sounds like a horrible retelling of Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier. This one is definitely not for me. Thanks for the review!

  2. This is the second review I've read of this book and both are not very happy with it. I am disappointed because I really love Rebecca, but I'm glad to know that I should give this one a pass. Great review!

  3. I initially really wanted to read this, as I was curious about how the author would tell the story of Rebecca in a fresh way. Unfortunately, it sounds like it's fairly cliche and predictable - and sadly, not as intriguing as New Girl (which is also a retelling of Rebecca).

  4. I'm kind of a sucker for any Rebecca retellings, so I might still give this one a try despite the issues you mentioned here. I think Rebecca is nearly impossible to update without being completely offensive to my modern feminist sensibilities. When I read New Girl (another retelling) I was half annoyed, half captivated. So I'm curious to see what my response will be to Thorn Abbey. Though I have no doubt I will be irked by all the angst and the laugh out loud ending. :-) Thanks for your thoughtful review Annette!


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