Book Reviews, Books 💜

The Hawthorn School by Sylvie Perry

Title: The Hawthorn School

Author: Sylvie Perry

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, mystery thriller, Psychological Fiction, Adult fiction.

Pages: 304

Published: December 7 2021

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books


For fans of Riley Sager, The Hawthorne School is a twisty psychological suspense about the lengths one mother will go for her child, inspired by present-day obsession with cults and true crime.

Claudia Morgan is overwhelmed. She’s a single parent trying the best that she can, but her four-year-old son, Henry, is a handful–for her and for his preschool. When Claudia hears about a school with an atypical teaching style near her Chicagoland home, she has to visit. The Hawthorne School is beautiful and has everything she dreams of for Henry: time to play outside, music, and art. The head of the school, Zelma, will even let Claudia volunteer to cover the cost of tuition.

The school is good for Henry: his “behavioral problems” disappear, and he comes home subdued instead of rageful. But there’s something a bit off about the school, its cold halls, and its enigmatic headmistress. When Henry brings home stories of ceremonies in the woods and odd rules, Claudia’s instincts tell her that something isn’t quite right, and she begins to realize she’s caught in a web of manipulations and power.

The author’s work as a psychotherapist, with a focus on narcissistic manipulation and addictive power dynamics, guides this exploration of a young mother wanting to do the best for her child.

This book is the best example of how far a mother can go to save her son. Claudia is a single mom desperate to find the perfect schooling environment for her son Henry. Henry is pretty much a handful in his preschool – this disturbs his mom who becomes distraught and tries to find a new school for him. Soon, she discovers a new school hidden in the woods, operating on an organic, plant based food, emphasis on outdoor environment for the kids and a cohesive environment for both teachers and students.

As luck would have it, she gets a job in the school as well.

Slowly things start changing and strange things happen. She becomes forgetful, has serious migraines anytime she is away from the school. So she moves right in with Henry. But it gets worse. The school teachers take her son away from her, they actually registered another teacher as his mom behind her back, and practically shove her aside. She soon realizes that everything is not what it seems, and something sinister is going on here. Perhaps the rumors going on in town might be true. Her Henry becomes weirdly calm but she notices he’s now distant from her. Sort of impulsive anytime she tries to talk to him.

Something is wrong with this school and she becomes determined to find out what. With the help of another teacher, she gets the full gist on the dark, sinister motive behind the school and she plans her escape.

I’m a huge fan of dark and mysterious boarding schools so the moment i saw the name of this book on Netgalley, i was sold. I knew i just had to read it. And Alhamdulillah, they accepted my request.

This book reminds me a lot of Home Before Dark by Riley Sager, and i must say i was intrigued by the setting. Claudia annoyed me a bit but i think i get it. She is just a desperate mom so i guess it’s okay. On the other hand, i sensed something wierd happening the moment she met the director Zelma. Something just seemed off. And then the migraines? Which miraculously disappear when she returned to school? Nah. My first instinct would be to run!

I found the dialogues very funny at times. The ending was quite a shock to me! I totally enjoyed reading this and i recommend it to all thriller lovers.

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