The Oxford Inheritance

Title: The Oxford Inheritance

Author: A. A. McDonald

Publisher: William Morrow

Release Date: February 2016

Source: from a friend

Rating: 2/5

Cassandra Blackwell arrives in Oxford with one mission: to uncover the truth about her mother’s dark past.  Raised in America, with no idea that her mother had ever studied at the famed college, a mysterious package now sends her across the ocean, determined to unravel the secrets that her mother too to her grave.  Plunged into the glamorous, secretive life of Raleigh College, Cassie finds a world like no other: a world of ancient tradition, privilege — and murder. (Goodreads)

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.