With her mother dead and her
dad an unknown entity, Cassandra Blackwell has learned to
fend for herself, even if her efforts aren't always honest.
When she receives a battered manila envelope addressed to
her dead mother with a note saying her mother "can't
hide from the truth forever," Cassie clones an ID card
and enrolls at her mother's old school: Raleigh College at
Evie, Cassie's new roommate, is researching the secret societies
of the college, the School of Night. When Evie introduces
her to Olivia and Hugo Mandeville, his dark gaze makes Cassie
uneasy. With the help of Elliot, who works in the school library
vaults, Cassie learns her mother's real name is Margaret Joanna
Madison and she left Oxford five months before Cassie's birth.
When Evie commits suicide, Cassie learns that her roommate
isn't the first to do so. Her mother's best friend, who wrote
a paper about the School of Night, also committed suicide.
And oddly enough, Evie's copy of the secret society paper
has been stolen. With the help of Police Constable Charles
Day, Cassie learns that the school had a rash of suicides
every quarter century, going back to the nineteenth century.
Did those deaths have something to do with her mother running
away to the States? Who is Cassie's father? Was he a member
of the School of Night? Did the secret society have anything
to do with the many deaths?
Cassie, though flawed, is a great protagonist, one who has
courage in the face of oppression. Constable Charley and Hugo
provide a slight romantic interest, and no doubt Ann McDonald's
personal experience at Oxford led to the setting's realism.
The Oxford Inheritance is a darkly mesmerizing novel, with
a mystery so intense that it took me on a frantic and satisfying