ARC Review: Thorn Abbey by Nancy Ohlin

Thorn Abbey by Nancy Ohlin  

Publishers: Simon Pulse
Published Date: May 7th 2013
From: Publishers -Arc
My rating:
3 out of 5
Nothing is as it seems in this darkly romantic tale of infatuation and possession, inspired by Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca.

Becca was the perfect girlfriend: smart, gorgeous, and loved by everyone at New England’s premier boarding school, Thorn Abbey. But Becca’s dead. And her boyfriend, Max, can’t get over his loss.

Then Tess transfers to Thorn Abbey. She’s shy, insecure, and ordinary—everything that Becca wasn’t. And despite her roommate’s warnings, she falls for brooding Max.

Now Max finally has a reason to move on. Except it won’t be easy. Because Becca may be gone, but she’s not quite ready to let him go…

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier is one of my favourite books of all time. Last year I read Paige Harbison's New Girl which retold the story so I was intrigued by Thorn Abbey.

To start with Tess comes from an ordinary everyday background. Single mum, not much money, normal high street clothes. When she arrives to Thorn Abbey the students are of a different calibre altogether. They all have money, come from distinguished homes, have relatives in high places. Tess feels out of her league.

Her life gets creepier when she realises she's taken the place of Becca. A student who died in a tragic accident and not only is she sleeping in the same room as her but also the same bed.

During her first few days she sees Max. From here on in for about a third of the book Tess develops a creepy OCD/obsessive disorder of Max and his ex-girlfriend Becca. Yep, he dated her, and as everyone tells Tess, they were so in love. Devon, her room-mate, gives Tess Becca's old laptop to use as Tess hasn't got one. The wallpaper is one of Max and Becca kissing. But something goes in Tess' favour because Max does take an interest in her. Franklin, his best friend, tells Tess to be careful. Max is unstable, jealous even especially of Becca's cousin Killian.

The second third of the book gets taken up with Tess's self-obsession. She thinks she isn't good enough, she's not pretty, shaped like a supermodel, she doesn't wear the right clothes etc. This part of the book made me dislike Tess immensely. Not only were her room-mate and so called friends taking her food away while insisting her hips are too wide, but they're also incredibly bitchy towards her. This doesn't help her self-esteem but all kudos go to Max because he tells her he wants her for exactly the person she is.

I must admit the first two thirds of the book had me liking Tess to disliking her. She has a lot of insecurities issues but this seems to be a trait as a reminiscing memory of her mother creeps in-we learn that Tess has always been this way. I did like Max but the story was telling me Max had severe mood-swings but I didn't see anything that a good chat and opening up session couldn't cure. Actually Tess and Max don't come across as a couple who talk that much which for the amount of time they're together doesn't come across as true.

The drama unfolds and things get worse when its clear to Tess that Becca's spirit is messing with her. The story ends tragically.

Yes, that sentence was written like that for a reason because that's exactly how the story finishes. Abrupt, lacking in emotion, apart from everyone hugging. It just ends. Although there is a slight twist but it didn't make up for a slightly drab storyline. When Kayleigh starting coming up with supernatural clues and ideas I actually thought it could lift the story but it just kind of flat-lined.

If you're a fan of Rebecca or New Girl, or public school stories then you may want to read this.
-CB x

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Nancy Ohlin here:
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