Review: The Asylum

The Asylum
The Asylum by John Harwood
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An asylum in the 19th century instantly brings to mind unpleasant things; a place where the care of sick people could be so inhumane. Yet, it is a perfect setting for a gothic novel. The Asylum is a very engaging read; a good mystery to keep the reader’s interest and a thrilling plot that I could barely put it down.

The story is told in two different ways; Georgina Ferrars’ perspective and a set of letters. It opens with Georgina Ferrars waking up in an asylum, being told that’s not the name she gave but unable to recall the last few weeks’ of her life. She cannot think of herself other than as Georgina Ferrars but others are as convinced that she cannot be. She is now confined to the asylum and fears for her safety but who is she, really? And who would want her locked away?

Georgina is intelligent and gutsy. She frustrated me a little with her naivety, trust in strangers, but this is understandable noting her upbringing. She learnt her lesson, however, and became cunning in her bid for freedom. As I read from her perspective, it was as if I could hear her brain ticking as she thought through the mysterious cause of her predicament and I felt for her as she fought to be free.

The ending, I felt, was a bit rushed and there was one passage that I thought was a little incongruent to the book. I couldn’t make sense of that particular part or how it was arrived at. Please note that I read an uncorrected proof so I hope that might have been fixed I was also a little disappointed with the ending as I had no feel as to where Georgina is only where she will be so it felt a tiny bit unfinished for me.

The Asylum had the feel of a psychological thriller though with the setting and mystery, it really fits better as a gothic. Nevertheless, I think if you enjoyed a psychological thriller, you just may enjoy this novel too. An enjoyable and fairly easy read that kept me entertained on the commute to work.

Thanks Random House Australia for paperback copy in exchange of honest review

View all my reviews

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