Title: The Oxford Inheritance
Author: A. A. McDonald
Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: February 2016
Source: from a friend
This might be the lowest rated book on my blog thus far, so let me begin by stating that I was highly intrigued by the plot summary when I first picked up this novel. The idea of secret societies and old colleges truly made me anticipate a great YA mystery novel, however, I was left devastatingly disappointed by the end of the novel.
McDonald’s description of Oxford and its rich history and architecture, truly painted an image while I read. I felt completely immersed in the novel’s setting, almost picturing myself walking down these Oxford streets. However, despite McDonald’s talent in bringing the novel’s setting to life, I was completely let down by the novel’s plot and characters.
The Oxford Inheritance had the potential to be a great novel. I loved McDonald’s concept of intertwining ancient secret societies with the supernatural, however, reading the novel felt tedious in the sense that it took a long time to get around to the introduction and development of these concepts. I honestly do not think we were introduced to the possibility of something supernatural as being the cause behind the entire novel until the last chapters — making it almost seem like an after thought, tossed in to make the story more interesting. Without giving out too many spoilers, I felt more confused at the inclusion of these supernatural elements because I truly did not understand what was happening. Were the secret society members monsters or demons? I still don’t know the answer, all I can say is that they are vague supernatural beings that feed on the intelligence and knowledge of others… I think?
It isn’t always necessary to like the protagonist of the novel you’re reading, but I feel that in order for a novel to succeed, they need to be a strong character in the sense that the reader is still able to connect with them on some level. Unfortunately McDonald’s protagonist, Cassie, was a very confusing character — I wasn’t able to feel much for her, nor was I able to understand who she truly was.
The beginning of the novel describes her as a mature student which lead me to believe that she must be in her thirties. By becoming fast friends with the grad students, I supposed then that she was in her mid-to-late twenties, however her behaviour throughout the novel made her appear to be a whiny, immature teenager which became increasingly unnerving to read.
Ultimately, I truly believe this novel had the potential to be great, but with such a weak plot, and poorly developed protagonist, I was left completely disappointed and wishing I had never bothered with it in the first place.