Friday, April 19, 2013

Gothic Redux: Thorn Abbey

Thorn Abbey
by Nancy Ohlin
Simon Pulse
2013
304 pages

Available May 2013

Read an excerpt here


A recent trend in YA lit is to base a novel set in the present but inspired by a classic novel. Ten is inspired by Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None, Frankenstein's Daughters is based on Mary Shelly's Frankenstein, and The Madman's Daughter is based on The Island of Dr. Moreau. Thorn Abbey is the newest novel to follow this trend.

Tragic, twisted, and downright terrific, Thorn Abbey has elements of its inspiration,  Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca. There is the tragic death of a beautiful young girl--named Becca, Tess, a new arrival to the school, a Gothic setting--a creepy, old but revered ivy-covered private school, Max--a brooding young man, a mystery, a ghost or maybe two ghosts, Devon, Tess's roommate who has serious issues, and minor characters who thwart Tess's romance with Max, and  finally there's a lonely cliff overlooking the surf.

Tess and Max seem to be falling in love even though Devon, Tess's roommate, does everything she can to sabatage them. When Tess shows up at a formal dance wearing the same dress that Becca wore  last year, Max comes unglued. Devon gave Tess the dress and told her to wear it. Poor, unknowing Tess. She loved the dress and didn't know that the conniving Devon gave her the dead girl's dress (the heroine of Rebecca showed up at a formal party in dead Rebecca's dress).

Tess doesn't know what's going on but Devon is acting strangely. Devon talks to herself and disappears overnight. Tess is worried--is her roommate psychotic? Strange warnings begin to appear in the dorm. Tess starts snooping around. She finds tons of prescription drugs. Maybe Devon is overmedicated. Is she being treated by a psychiatrist? Tess opens a memory box that Devon keeps. In it, she finds Becca's diary. The secrets in the diary shed a whole new light on Becca's squeaky clean image.

I have only one problem with this book. Why is it that so many YA authors still stereotype and vilify librarians? Devon refers to the head librarian as "Hale the Whale" --"for obvious reasons." Why does the head librarian of Thorn Abbey have to be overweight and out of shape?  Nancy Ohlin, I call "foul!"

Recommended grade 9-up. Thorn Abbey is a little bit Gossip Girls, a little bit Mean Girls and a lot Rebecca. Devon is tawdry and downright trampy. Profanity, underage drinking and drug use. Goodness, how do those private school kids have time to study?!

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received the ARC from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)

5 comments:

  1. I'd love to read this, Pamela, and I know my students would too! Thanks

    ReplyDelete
  2. Would love to read this book!

    Joleen Waltman
    1010 S. 2500 W.
    Aberdeen, ID 83210

    waltmaj@aberdeen58.org

    ReplyDelete
  3. This book looks good!
    Mary Ann Hebert
    1825 Windfall Road
    Olean, New York 14760
    maryann_hebert@caboces.org

    ReplyDelete
  4. My students would love this book. Fingers crossed!
    Sindy
    Rochester, NY
    sindycun@rochester.rr.com

    ReplyDelete
  5. Love when contemporaries are inspired by classics- thanks for the opportunity to read another!

    Susan
    Falls City, NE
    sfindlay5@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete