Book Review: Ghosts of Harvard

GhostofHarvard-Cover-HC-0120-650wTitle: Ghosts of Harvard
Author: Francesca Serritella
Genre: psychological thriller
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: May 5, 2020
Pages: 480
Format Read: Ebook
Standalone or series: Standalone
Where I got the book: NetGalley ARC
Date finished reading: May 30, 2020

Goodreads Description: A Harvard freshman becomes obsessed with her schizophrenic brother’s suicide. Then she starts hearing voices.

Cadence Archer arrives on Harvard’s campus desperate to understand why her brother, Eric, a genius who developed paranoid schizophrenia took his own life there the year before. Losing Eric has left a black hole in Cady’s life, and while her decision to follow in her brother’s footsteps threatens to break her family apart, she is haunted by questions of what she might have missed. And there’s only one place to find answers.

As Cady struggles under the enormous pressure at Harvard, she investigates her brother’s final year, armed only with a blue notebook of Eric’s cryptic scribblings. She knew he had been struggling with paranoia, delusions, and illusory enemies—but what tipped him over the edge? With her suspicions mounting, Cady herself begins to hear voices, seemingly belonging to three ghosts who walked the university’s hallowed halls—or huddled in its slave quarters. Among them is a person whose name has been buried for centuries, and another whose name mankind will never forget.

Does she share Eric’s illness, or is she tapping into something else? Cady doesn’t know how or why these ghosts are contacting her, but as she is drawn deeper into their worlds, she believes they’re moving her closer to the truth about Eric, even as keeping them secret isolates her further. Will listening to these voices lead her to the one voice she craves—her brother’s—or will she follow them down a path to her own destruction?

My Review: I am grateful to have received an ARC of Ghosts of Harvard from NetGalley. This was an interesting read for sure. It was a mix of fiction and nonfiction. It was a psychological thriller and mystery with a supernatural side note.

As I formally lived in Boston, I was thrilled to experience the author’s vivid descriptions of the Harvard campus. However, I struggled with the pacing of this book. I felt that it was about 100 pages too long. The middle was too slow, but I was very invested in the main character, Cady, as she tried to find out the truth behind her brother’s suicide. I was also invested in finding out the truth of what Cady was going through from the Prologue at the beginning. I thoroughly enjoyed the final quarter of the book. There were twists and turns, and I could not put it down.

I am not sure I understand the point of the main character being visited by ghosts. All I can come up with is that the author really wanted to create an unreliable main character, so the reader could not be able to distinguish between reality and fantasy. I never truly believed that Cady was suffering from schizophrenia like her brother had. However, I appreciate this interesting twist the author provided and acknowledge that much of the interaction with the ghost were based on history facts.

This story is one that I continue to go over in my head as I attempt to understand some of the deeper meaning the author was trying to express. It is the kind of book that stays with you.

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ½

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