Saturday, 4 May 2013

New book Review; Historical Fiction Mystery; 'The Asylum'

Title: The Asylum
Author: John Harwood
ISBN: 9780224097413
Price: Hard back £14.99

                A thrilling mystery set in Victorian times, ‘The Asylum’ is the story of one woman who is almost convinced she has lost her sanity. She wakes up confined in Tregannon House, a professional private establishment for mental instability having no recollection of how she came to be there or of the events of the past three weeks. However she is aware of her identity; she is Georgina Ferrars and wishes to contact her uncle and be sent home immediately. However when Dr Straker sends a telegram home the reply nearly causes here to lose her mind entirely ‘GEORGINA FERRARS IS HERE STOP YOUR PATIENT MUST BE AN IMPOSTER STOP’. Dr Straker informs her that she is subject to a rare condition in which the sufferer becomes so obsessed with another person they eventually take on their identity. The woman in London who states she is the real Georgina Ferrars states she spoke to a woman named Lucia Ardent intimately about her childhood and life so far which would explain the patient’s knowledge of this. The woman arrived at Tregannon house under the false alias of Lucy Aston but the Doctor also explains that he has researched the name Lucia Ardent, which also did not exist.
                However ‘Miss Aston’ as they choose to call her at Tregannon refuses to believe that she is not Georgina Ferrars and she knows she must find some way to escape and return to her uncle in London and reveal the imposter. She becomes more anxious as the Doctor informs her she is confined in the building for her own safety and begins to wonder if she is a fly caught in a massive web- as scheme of this imposter or indeed of the Doctor himself in order to drive her to insanity. Yet she can’t help but wonder, of the two women who claim to be the same person, is she the real Georgina Ferrars? Or is has she truly lost herself in the realm of insanity?
Cleverly written with twists in every chapter, ‘The Asylum’ is a fantastic mystery story which also reveals some of the more scandalous aspects of Victorian life- this is the benefit of books written today referring back of time as parts of this book would never have been publiches during the reign of Queen Victoria. Midway it becomes harder to follow as the narrator switches and we read a series of letters, the significance of which do not become clear until later. Nevertheless if you persevere it all pulls together to form a wonderfully dramatic conclusion.



  1. Lindsay Brewer20 May 2013 at 23:54

    Thank you for this review. The Asylum sounds like a great read and I'll keep my eyes out for it. If I can make a recommendation of my own I would suggest Journey (If Where You're Going Isn't Home) by Max Zimmer. A beautifully written coming of age novel about a teenage Mormon boy in 1960's America who pursues a dream to play the jazz trumpet. A life which conflicts with the teachings of the Mormon church. I consider this book an absolute must read. It has a bit of everything and a lot of heart.

  2. Really really good book if you like ghost stories. I read this and then book 2 Sanctum. For me they were hard to put down just wanted to keep reading and reading.

  3. John Harwood's two previous novels, The Seance and The Ghost Writer, entertain fans of Gothic thrillers with confident panache. The Asylum has every convention anticipated in the genre and its twists and turns were enough to keep me reading until the end. Well done Mr. Harwood! You deserve to be more recognized for your writing and clever plotting.

  4. I LOVED this book! It was very well-written, and the author does a great job creating the mood of the Victorian Gothic suspense novel. Couldn't put it down and read it in almost one sitting. Entertaining and fun with mystery lurking right around the corner.