Book club time. Grab some booze. Or a cat. Or both. YOUR CHOICE.


Okay, first off, today we’re opening up the discussion for this month’s Fantastic Strangelings Book Club selection, Catherine House.

Someone remind me to make Dorothy Barker bookmarks one day when I have more energy and design skills.

Have you started it yet? Have you finished it yet? No pressure because there are no rules for this book club but if you have drop down into the comments or go to the Fantastic Strangeling Book Club Facebook page to discuss. I actually really liked it the first time I read it and LOVED it the second time because I was able to pick up all the nuances I missed the first time around. (I always have to read our selections twice because my memory is so terrible I forget the plot within a month. This is a blessing and a curse but at least I can read the same book over and over and never get bored with it.)

AND! Here’s something I’m so excited about. Next month’s book. You guys.

Dorothy Barker is not shown because I only have the digital advance copy of this book. Sorry.

Okay, first of all, it is so deliciously dark and twisted and I was really afraid that the publisher wouldn’t be able to get us enough books but they were so excited about being chosen as June’s book that they printed up a batch specifically for us and printed inside every book they included this lovely page:

How fucking cool is that? Answer: Very cool.

A tiny taste of They Did Bad Things:

And Then There Were None meets The Last Time I Lied in this dark and twisty psychological thriller.

In 1995, six university students moved into the house at 215 Caldwell Street. Months later, one of them was found dead on the sofa the morning after their end-of-year party. His death was ruled an accident by the police. The remaining five all knew it wasn’t, and though they went on with their lives, the truth of what happened to their sixth housemate couldn’t stay buried forever.

Twenty years later, all five of them arrive—lured separately under various pretenses—at Wolfheather House, a crumbling, secluded mansion on the Scottish isle of Doon. Trapped inside with no way out and no signal to the outside world, the now forty-somethings fight each other—and the unknown mastermind behind their gathering—as they confront the role they played in their housemate’s death. They are given one choice: confess to their crimes or die. 

They Did Bad Things is a deviously clever psychological thriller about the banality of evil and the human capacity for committing horror.

Personally I find the mystery genre a little hit or miss but this one really did it for me. I think you’ll like it.

Happy reading!

61 thoughts on “Book club time. Grab some booze. Or a cat. Or both. YOUR CHOICE.

Read comments below or add one.

  1. Is it too late to join your book club? What are the details? I reallllllly want to join but we didn’t think we could afford it earlier this year when it was announced. But maybe if I commit for less than a full year my husband might say yes! haha

    (Click here for details: We ordered extra copies of June’s book in case we had new member but I think we only have 50-100 open spots before we’re at capacity for June. ~ Jenny)

  2. Have I told you how much I love the Book Club? I love the Book Club.

    (Me too. 🙂 ~ Jenny)

  3. I really enjoyed this book. It seemed to meander along, eerie and with that feeling that something is about to happen. But it never really did. Nothing big, I mean. I felt unsettled the whole time reading it, but in a good way. Also vaguely unsatisfied with the ending, but not in a bad way – just that I wanted the story to continue on. Normally I get really mad if there isn’t good resolution in the end, but for some reason it works with this book and I really enjoyed it. This might be the worst book review ever.

  4. OMG, I love the new frontice piece! I read Catherine House and it was the fastest read I have done in probably a decade. That being said, it started really slowly for me and I had a hard time figuring out where the plot was going. Once it picked up, I had a lot of feelings, and overall I think I liked the book. The sense of dread did permeate the book, and it finally paid off at the end.

  5. I hope the Dorothy Barker book marks will look less judgey than the look she’s giving in the pic. I feel likes she’s all “You’re stopping there?”
    I am sooo excited to get the special edition of the next book though!

  6. Okay, here there be spoilers:

    It’s weird how at home I felt in this book in spite of the creeping dread. Like, I sort of want Catherine House to be real so I can go live there but also not because it’s obviously horrifically unethical and evil.

    The first time that I read it I was a little frustrated that Ines didn’t open Baby’s casket because I wanted to see what was inside and also I wanted her to save her but the second time I realized that it was so much creepier to not see her…to just imagine but not know. Like when you never saw the shark in Jaws.

    One of the questions I had at the end though was what exactly M. Shiner had “exaggerated” in his experiments. I’m assuming he maybe talked about immortality (as a form of suspended animation like they were experimenting with?) but then I got the feeling that Sandy happened after that so maybe there were different sort of experiments that led up to Sandy?

    I was conflicted about the end of the book. I wanted Ines to rescue Baby and expose everything and make everyone realize they were wrong and burn the whole place down and punch Theo in the throat. But also, I think the ending was more realistic this way and also lent itself to a continued story. It made me think about what the ethical answers are to the strange experiments. The school seemed to pick broken but vibrant people who wouldn’t be missed, and specifically damaged people who might find the idea of losing all emotions and hurt to live forever as beautiful, unchanging objects, and part of me could understand choosing that, even if it was a terrible decision. I’m ready for book two if there is a book two.

    Another question I had was about Viktoria. She was described as vibrant and glowing. Was she somehow using the pins to pull energy from the school and the students or was I reading too much into that? I almost got the feeling that the students were a battery in a way. Almost like a cult with an underlying sci-fi angle.

    Just me?

  7. My comment appears to have been eaten. No doubt it will resurface later to make me look like a chump. Anyhoo… Is it too late to get in on next month’s special edition?

  8. We ordered more copies than we needed in case we had more people join but supplies are limited. 🙂 I think we have about 50-100 spots available right now before we’re at capacity for June.

  9. Will there be an extra book selection next month, too?

    (Yes! Still working on that. I’ll keep you posted. ~ Jenny)

  10. Are we by chance getting another extra book suggestion for June? I feel like my library may never open so I’m collecting all the extra books I can. With that said, I haven’t gotten to May’s books yet, even though I just had 4 days off and my only goals were to read those two books, along with two others and watch some movies. That was literally all I wanted out of 4 days and of course I didn’t do any of those things. Other than read a lot of Harry Potter to my cats, I literally have no idea what I did for 4 days. Maybe we need a time management book in the future lol.

  11. A special book club inner? Sweet Baby Hayzeus this is the best! Need more book clubber merch, pls?

  12. How absolutely awesome is that?! The art is gorgeous & I’m super jealous

  13. It just arrived an hour ago – we have two postal carriers: one who delivers everything, one who only delivers thin envelopes and leaves everything else for the other guy. Delivers Stuff guy brought SEVEN packages today…

  14. The ending reminded me of Schrodinger’s Cat…the author leaves it up in the air. The way the ending is written, Ines has simultaneously broken free & is still enmeshed in Catherine House. Did she escape? Does she look out to see that she is still there? Very eerie book, and good Lord those students did their share of drinking!

    (I love this analogy. ~ Jenny)

  15. If I order “They Did Bad Things” from your bookshop, but I’m not a member of your book club, will I still get the special edition?

    (If there are any extras left we sometimes put them on the nowhere site but almost always we sell out with just memberships. ~ Jenny)

  16. How fucking cool is that? Answer: Teen Witch level of awesome! I hope you did the “Top That” rap multiple times…since your memory sucks.

  17. June’s book sounds AWESOME!! and it is the mostest awesome that we’re getting our own club version!!! Yay!!

  18. Just FYI, there is also a Goodreads Fantastic Strangelings book group.

  19. Yes! I definitely felt Viktoria was staving off aging by using plasm pins/student energy, but not fully surrendered to the robotic state of Sandy or (presumably) Baby.
    Additionally, I believe what Shiner exaggerated was that the participants retained their humanity while enjoying eternal youth.
    This book had me asking myself many internal moral and ethical questions and doing some deep thinking, which surprised me.

  20. We aren’t judging books by the cover here are we?! Apparently I am the only one who did not like this book. Gorgeous looking outside with a boring, dragging on, rambling nothing inside. The only reason I did finish it was because of the book club.

  21. I finally signed up! I can’t wait to read along with everyone.

  22. Not quite done yet, but can’t stop following the twists and turns of food descriptions and Ines’s relationship with food. And all her sensual traits that make her a vital, living organism and sooo attractive to the plasm! Inspired me to wake up my senses. Also, made me see my “not sure I’ll be able to interact with people tomorrow” as less of a pitfall and more of a superpower. Like my mind has no time for everyday jibberjabber cause I’m preparing for something extremely bizarre and inconceivable to land in my lap.

  23. Hi, I didn’t read any comments because I just started the book. It’s quite a read so far. I am new to the book club, it’s my first. I enjoyed reading your books Jenny. You are freaking hilarious. I also have a fun fact to share. We have the same birthday, Dec 29 th. Hey, cappy! Lol. I can’t wait to get my mask I ordered as well of Rory. I just love your creativity and how you put humor into something that is sad.
    I am trying to create my own blog but it’s difficult at this time but I’m not giving in to bipolar disorder.

  24. I am old and need some clearer endings usually, but the pod people Baby and the boy were creepy enough to get me through to where Ines “escapes”…but now I am not sure she did and that Vicktoria is kind of a vitality vampire and she sucks the life from the students and keeps Catherine house going…and just who was Catherine, did that get told??!! Got my Rory mask today, SO going to love wearing it at the hospital when i don’t need to be in a “real” mask!

  25. I was fortunate enough to join at the beginning and commented on Catherine House for my first on any (that will not continue) waiting on Horriseor ( sp) backordered…can I have this one today???

  26. I definitely think Viktoria was sucking energy from the students. I really didn’t like Ines at first. She didn’t care about anything and was slightly annoying. I liked the book much better by the end. It seems like maybe this is not the end of the story. Also, I absolutely love having an extra book to read every month. Something to do while waiting for the main book to arrive. I would love to read Grady Hendrix’s other book My Best Friend’s Exorcism and then have a Q&A with him. He seems like he would be delightfully weird.

  27. Just signed up for the book club, hopefully you aren’t full for June because that books looks so good!

  28. Okay! You win! Every month you post these books and I don’t sign up and I have to wait for the library or something to get it. Well no more! I just signed up and can’t wait to read this (and always glad to support Nowhere Bookshop!)

  29. Is there any way to join the club but get ebooks rather than print ones? I would love to support it but I travel a lot and can’t carry many books with me and I can easily go through one a day.

  30. THANK YOU!!! I Just received Catherine House in yesterday’s mail, so I can hardly comment … yet – ! But so happy to be able to begin catching up .. the thriller for June sounds right up my alley, one of them, at least – so many books, so little time! Thank you to Elizabeth, again.

    And remember, what a Grrreat idea 💡 a Dorothy Barker Bookmark is going to be, in your retail shop!

  31. Catherine House just became available from my hold list and I just finished The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes so I had better get to reading! Yay!


  32. Wow, I’m so excited for June’s book now! I feel special.

    I’m halfway through Catherine House and I’m waiting for something big to happen….

  33. I NEED the book club inner on a hoodie or a tote or mug or……..

  34. Oooooooooh. I have two more weeks left of teaching my district’s high schoolers online. After that, I would love to join your book club. I’ll look into the info. Thank you for making this possible.

  35. I can’t believe we get a special page in the book!!! So cool. You are awesome, Jenny. Look at the magic you make!!

  36. Jesus, you must have had a metric ton of preorders to have the publisher do a special print run with a drop-in! Well done! (If only my store did 1/2 that well — after June … I don’t know how I’ll pay the rent. I’m still closed due to COVID and I was tested for COVID today myself. Honestly, I don’t know what I”m going to do. I wish I could join *your* book club, but I don’t have the money. June’s book sounds fascinating.)

  37. *Spoilers*: Wow, just finished. Was not expecting the turn of, well, EVERYTHING in the 3rd year. Also, I think it was Viktoria at the end based on the description of the walk, anyone else? I wouldn’t mind a 2nd book, but it seems like the type of story that might be ruined by trying to make it a series. Didn’t occur to me about Viktoria sucking the life out of students, but that makes sense to me. I also can’t believe Theo was such a goddamn traitor. I guess I was swept up in the same fantasies as Ines.

  38. I’m with BP on this one – not a fan. I figured out who the dark-headed boy was as soon as she saw him after seeing his pic in the yearbook. Horrorstor was the better or the 2 books – that one kept me going!

  39. This book was my favorite thus far! It made me feel nostalgic in such a twisted way. My heart broke for Ines when she discovered Baby & then with Theo‘s betrayal. Agree that he definitely deserves a throat punch! Loved that the author was true to the characters though. Fantastically fun (& terrible)!

  40. OMG, I can’t wait for that book! I’m a little behind on the books, but I’m LOVING THEM! I’m so happy that we can help authors!

  41. Hey, yeah! I would love an ebook option, too. As it stands, I’m buying 2 copies of most of these books. Even a discount would be helpful.

  42. I just placed my first Nowhere Books order! I bought the new book club book They Did Bad Things, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, and Cinder (based on your recommendation) – I was hoping you might be able to sign your book for me. It’s been a tough month – my youngest nephew 8 years old) was diagnosed with leukemia and passed away from complications within a few days of diagnosis. I’m so sad and broken from this and really need something to help pull me out of my own head. Books have always been a refuge. Thank you for sharing your life and wonderfully quirky, brilliant mind with all of us.

  43. Just finished reading. I think the ambiguous ending is the only way to end this book – a neat and tidy ending would not have matched the flavor of the story. I do think Viktoria gets strength from the students in some sort of approaching-immortality way. Overall, I liked the book. I didn’t love it, but I also didn’t stop reading it. It pulled me in enough that I wanted to see it to the end. So maybe a 7/10 for me.

  44. I found the preoccupation with food kind of annoying. I love cake but it seems like they lived on sweets and wine. I also thought it dragged and I wasn’t sure I would make it through. Ines was annoying to me at first because she didn’t care about anything, and not in a depressed way, that I understand. I thought not showing Baby was probably the better choice in terms of letting the reader decide how much horror the story deserved. I was appalled by the fact that Theo basically chose Ines to be sacrificed. Very unsettling story and I am glad that Ines chose herself and to escape. I wish we could find out what happened to Nick, Yaya, etc. I found Anna’s comment that the school wanted “devotion” was a good description of the plasm concentration.

  45. I assumed while reading that they were being drugged by the wine and was surprised when that turned out not to be a thing.

  46. Spoilers.

    Thank you Danoudini (42), I also spotted the description of the walk at the end and thought it didn’t sound like either Bunny or Glo so was probably Viktoria so, after all that, Ines doesn’t really escape.

    Julia (53), I see your point about the preoccupation with food but all the descriptions of the students include them losing weight despite eating so much cake, so maybe there was a gingerbread-cottage-witch thing going on with them being given access to lots of empty calories (sweets and wine) to fatten them up so they have more energy to have siphoned off?

  47. This book feels like a dream, and it carries you through like a dream and you will need to surrender to get through. I am with Jenny- I also felt at home here. But what I gathered was that Ones was an advanced Sandy. Everyone was so proud of her because she was less of a robot, but her brain functions weren’t all there. I had the impression she will wake up again as a first year, and they will see how she has improved this time. I admit I listened on audiobook and had Interupting Four Year Old every few minutes, especially at the end, but now I get to find the printed copy and go clue searching. I have a goldfish memory also, so this will be fun for me too.

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