The Hawthorne School, a review by Tanya

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The Hawthorne School
Sylvie Perry
Narrator Nan McNamara

9 hours 11 min
Publishes Dec 7, 2021 by Dreamscape Media

Amazon | Goodreads

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About this Book:

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.

This exploration of what a mother will do for her child is guided by the author’s work with narcissistic manipulation and addictive power dynamics in her role as a psychotherapist.

My Review:

I enjoyed the narration for The Hawthorne School. Children’s voices done by adults often do not hit the mark for me. While the adult voices from McNamara were well suited, the child’s voices were too childish, if that makes sense.

Claudia is not my favorite character. A mother of an out of control child who knows that something is too good to be true, feels that something is off, is told by many people something is off, but continues to push those feelings aside …. it’s like the commercial of the 4 teens being chased by a masked murderer and deciding that hiding in the barn, with all the sharp farm tools, is the best decision.  Major eye rolling!

What I did love is the gothic school within the story.  The cover is fabulous!  The descriptions of the school were so cool and creepy, I wanted more, way more! But only bits and pieces were scattered around for the reader and that was a true shame. I wanted to know what went on behind closed doors, what was happening that couldn’t be shown through just Claudia’s perception.

I feel like this easily could have been a 5 star read with this theme.  Instead it felt like a non-thriller Thriller.  No surprises, no twists.  A main character that isn’t likable and seems to be a bit dim-witted for not catching on sooner.  A plot that you can see from Chapter 1 with a journey that spends way too much time on how the character feels about what’s happening around her (literally the first 2 hours of the books she laments about …. how she wants her child to go to Hawthorne Academy but knows she can’t afford it, but takes him for a tour anyway, even though she can’t afford it and on and on).

A great concept that unfortunately missed its mark.


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