“Asylum” is an intricate and suspenseful mystery that begins when Georgina wakes up in an asylum and has no idea how she got there. This was my first Gothic thriller from John Harwood, and I really liked it! I would characterize this book more as a mystery rather than a horror story despite the description. The asylum staff relay to Georgina that when she arrived she told them she was someone else entirely. Thus begins Georgina’s stint in the insane asylum where she is kept as a patient against her will while struggling to remember her true identity.
Georgina is a great main character because the reader sees her evolve from a simple and naïve girl to a quick-witted young woman. With each chapter, the mystery surrounding Georgina’s identity is slowly solved. The plot is a little confusing because there are so many characters whose relevancy is initially unclear, but this was my only complaint with the book. Told through letters, a large part of the story focused on prior events of the many characters. This isn’t my favorite format, but it worked well for this plot. The story is very original and clever, and I enjoyed it so much that I’ve already put Harwood’s other books on my list to read. The writing was strong and full of descriptive observations. I liked that Harwood selected a more classic time period for the setting, which provided the perfect platform for this story. The ending was both rewarding and frustrating, but overall, I felt content.
This suspenseful story was a great book to read with Halloween approaching.