arc book review: thorn abbey

Thorn AbbeyThorn Abbey by Nancy Ohlin (publication date: May 7, 2013)

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

My favourite things about the book Rebecca are: the romance between Maxim and Mrs DeWinter, and the twist, shocking ending. Any retelling of the story would require both of those things, in addition to the eerie atmosphere and beautiful writing, to be considered a success in my opinion.

So, this book had thrilling amounts of potential- having just recently read New Girl, another Rebecca re-imagining in a modern boarding-school setting, I was pretty much game for anything. This book wasn’t written badly, but it just lacked the atmosphere and romance of the original. Max De Villiers wasn’t as super-sexy as the original Maxim, and although the relationship between Max and Tess was fairly realistic for highschool sophomores (I can clearly remember how quickly and easily I could develop a crush on someone at that age), it just lacked some spark.

The twist at the end of this book was completely different from the original story, which I really appreciated, actually. Starting with the strange Devon development (and Devon as a Mrs Danvers stand-in was pretty much the best thing in this book) and ending with, well, the end, the newly imagined ending was certainly a surprise. It all moved rather quickly after the whole diary-reading discovery, and I found that the change in pace didn’t flow well with the previous chapters.

We never really got the backstory behind the Devon/Becca relationship though! Having read Rebecca we know about Mrs Danvers/Rebecca, and their history, but this book never fully developed it, which was disappointing.

I found this to be a mixture of almost direct scene-for-scene replays of Rebecca, which I really like (who doesn’t enjoy re-reading an old favourite), and completely new scenarios. I think I would have enjoyed it more had it chosen to be either one or the other- a retelling, or a reimagining, and not a mixture of both.

Overall, I did like parts of the book. It was a very quick read, and if you have read and loved Rebecca, it’s worth giving this a try simply for interest’s sake, and to experience another person’s take on and inspiration from the wonderful original book.

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