"Perched high atop a seaside cliff in Ireland, a lonely Victorian mansion is home to Temple House School. And at Temple House, nothing is ever as it seems.
Louisa is the new, brilliant scholarship student. Finding most of the other students at the all-girls Catholic boarding school as icy and unfamiliar as the drafty mansion, she forms a fierce bond with the intense and compelling Victoria, an outlier and student provocateur.
Their close bond is soon unsettled by the young, charismatic art teacher, Mr. Lavelle—igniting tension and obsession in the cloistered world of the school. Then one day, Louisa and Mr. Lavelle disappear.
There is no trace of either one. It’s the unsolved mystery that captivates the whole country. Year after year, the media revisit it, and the conspiracy theories persist. Now, on the twenty-fifth anniversary, a journalist—a woman who grew up on the same street as Louisa—delves into the past to write a series of articles and uncover the truth. She finds stories of jealousy and revenge, power and class. But will she find Louisa and Mr. Lavelle, too?
Because remember—at Temple House, nothing is ever as it seems."
The summary of this book made this one feel like a must read for me. Any time that a book has an isolated school setting and/or a mystery that goes back years ago means that I'm instantly intrigued. But it was that last line that really hooked me and filled me with questions. What do they mean that nothing is ever as it seems? I just had to know! This book instantly pulled me in from the very beginning pages. Louisa was a very interesting character. As the reader, I didn't fully understand her in the beginning but she had me intrigued. Then there was the weird relationship between Victoria and Mr. Lavelle to try and sort through. And the relationship between all three of them. There were just all of these questions that I had about what was happening or wasn't happening while I reading this book based off of these characters and their connections to one another. The book was also set up in such a suspenseful way. We flashed back to the time when Louisa and Victoria were both in school together before the disappearance for portions of the book. We also got to see in present day the reporter's investigation into the disappearance from years ago. These two storylines combined into a suspenseful read that kept me turning the pages. I really appreciated this because let me tell you that my reading mojo has been off a bit recently. Instead of struggling like I have been, this book kept me reading and left me unable to set my kindle down. That was a really nice and needed change of pace for me. If I had one complaint with this book it was that I was left feeling slightly dissatisfied with the ending but I cannot put my finger on why. It was a good ending really but there was just something that held me back from fully enjoying it. That being said, this was a really strong debut that left me excited to read more by this author!
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and am so glad that it helped me get out of the dreaded reading slump that I had been in. The atmosphere and setting of this book was something that I just could not get enough of! Give me ALL of the boarding school books set in isolated settings with gothic vibes and I would be one happy reader - that's for sure! I think that readers who enjoy dark academic type of books, those who enjoy gothic vibes and books filled with atmosphere, as well as those readers who love a character driven suspense filled novel should pick this book up. I'm so excited to see what other readers think of this one so I can discuss it with them! Highly recommended!
Bottom Line: A suspenseful read that I just couldn't set down!
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher and NetGalley. Honest thoughts are my own.