Published August 25, 2023, by Brigids Gate Press
2.5/5 Stars (rounded up on Goodreads to 3 Stars)
When I first started reading What Happened at Hawthorne House, I thought I was reading a YA novella. It seemed fitting since the first part of the story follows a group of children and the game they had made up out of boredom. But I quickly realized that their "Clover Court" wasn't a harmless little game about princesses and queens, but a sinister ploy to gain control over the other children at Hawthorne House. It seemed the little girls would do anything to be in charge, no matter how gruesome and bloody the task.
I had a hard time following the happenings in the first part of the novella. There are so many girls the reader is suddenly introduced to and, there is no way to tell them apart other than their names. The reader was given no characteristics or backstory, so it was tough to figure out who was doing what. I also felt the writing was a bit bland, as we were mostly being told "This girl did that thing" and "Now this girl was the queen".
The second part takes place years later, and without spoiling any of the story, I have to say it was written clearer and I felt a lot less lost.
Overall, What Happened at Hawthorne House is a quick and gruesome read, but wasn't for me. One thing I did really enjoy was the gothic undertone, which is my favorite genre in horror.