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The Asylum
Cover of The Asylum
The Asylum
A Novel
Borrow

A brilliant new Gothic thriller from the acclaimed author of The Ghost Writer and The Séance

Confused and disoriented, Georgina Ferrars awakens in a small room in Tregannon House, a private asylum in a remote corner of England. She has no memory of the past few weeks. The doctor, Maynard Straker, tells her that she admitted herself under the name Lucy Ashton the day before and then suffered a seizure. When she insists he has mistaken her for someone else, Dr. Straker sends a telegram to her uncle, who replies that Georgina Ferrars is at home with him in London: "Your patient must be an imposter."

Suddenly her voluntary confinement becomes involuntary. Who is the woman in her uncle's house? And what has become of her two most precious possessions, a dragonfly pin left to her by her mother and a journal that contains the only record of those missing weeks? Georgina's perilous quest to free herself takes her from a cliffside cottage on the Isle of Wight to the secret passages of Tregannon House and into a web of hidden family ties on which her survival depends.

Here is another delicious read from the author praised by Ruth Rendell as having "a gift for creating suspense, apparently effortlessly, as if it belongs in the nature of fiction."

A brilliant new Gothic thriller from the acclaimed author of The Ghost Writer and The Séance

Confused and disoriented, Georgina Ferrars awakens in a small room in Tregannon House, a private asylum in a remote corner of England. She has no memory of the past few weeks. The doctor, Maynard Straker, tells her that she admitted herself under the name Lucy Ashton the day before and then suffered a seizure. When she insists he has mistaken her for someone else, Dr. Straker sends a telegram to her uncle, who replies that Georgina Ferrars is at home with him in London: "Your patient must be an imposter."

Suddenly her voluntary confinement becomes involuntary. Who is the woman in her uncle's house? And what has become of her two most precious possessions, a dragonfly pin left to her by her mother and a journal that contains the only record of those missing weeks? Georgina's perilous quest to free herself takes her from a cliffside cottage on the Isle of Wight to the secret passages of Tregannon House and into a web of hidden family ties on which her survival depends.

Here is another delicious read from the author praised by Ruth Rendell as having "a gift for creating suspense, apparently effortlessly, as if it belongs in the nature of fiction."

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About the Author-
  • John Harwood is the author of several novels of gothic suspense, including The Seance, which won the Aurealis Award for best horror novel, and The Ghost Writer, which won the International Horror Guild's Best First Novel Award. Aside from fiction, his published work includes biography, poetry, and literary history.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    September 2, 2013
    Rosalyn Landor proves a fine choice to narrate this Gothic tale of mystery, mistaken identity, and madness. Georgina Ferrars awakens to find herself in a private asylum called Tregannon House. With no memory of the past several days, Georgina learns that she checked herself into the facility under the name Lucy Ashton. What follows is a suspenseful story of dark intrigue, as Georgina struggles to convince her captors of her true identity, even as mounting evidence begins to shake her belief in her own sanity. Landor’s clear, accented reading pulls the listener into the sinister halls of Tregannon, and her first-person narration perfectly conveys the heroine’s sense of confusion and growing desperation. With her crisp, straightforward delivery, Landor keeps the listener enthralled as one clue after another is revealed, leading to a climax that is as satisfying as it is surprising. A Houghton Mifflin Harcourt hardcover.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    March 18, 2013
    As he did in The Ghost Writer and The Séance, Australian author Harwood evokes Charles Palliser and Louis Bayard in his engrossing third stand-alone Victorian thriller. In the first sentence, Georgina Ferrars declares, “I woke, as it seemed, from a nightmare of being stretched on the rack, only to sink into another dream in which I was lying on a strange bed, afraid to open my eyes for fear of what I might see.” Alas, Georgina finds herself in a Cornwall asylum, whose sinister director, Dr. Maynard Straker, tells her that she arrived the previous day, November 1, 1882, and identified herself as 21-year-old Lucy Ashton. With no memory of the previous six weeks, Georgina is hard-pressed to refute Straker. Only gradually do the events that led to her confinement become clear. The crisp prose and twisty plot will encourage many to read this in one sitting, though the ending won’t satisfy everyone. Agent: Kathleen Anderson, Anderson Literary Management.

  • Library Journal

    October 15, 2013

    Georgina Ferrars discovers that she's locked in a Victorian asylum. She's lost some of her memory, and what she has left does not seem to match the reality outside the asylum. She must learn who she truly is, and find out who--or what--is responsible for her current situation. Harwood's (The Seance) writing seems designed to emulate books of the era, which is both a strength and a weakness. While the vocabulary and tone make the story feel more authentic, the writing seems to replicate different authors' styles. This makes it feel as though a completely different story is taking place at various points, which is especially off-putting at the climax. The Victorian prose also makes topics more freely discussed in the modern era, such as the lead character's lesbianism, feminism, and atheism, stand out. Rosalyn Landor's excellent pronunciation and diction can work against her, as the reading tends to become staccato and hard on the ear over time. In spite of these drawbacks, the well-crafted mystery keeps drawing in the listener. VERDICT For readers who like Shirley Jackson-style slow-burn horror and historical fiction lovers who can deal with the heroine's modern sensibilities. ["Harwood focuses on creating a suitably chilling atmosphere and an appealing, if helpless, heroine, but the cardboard villains are obvious and uninspired. The middle section of the novel, in epistolary style, is far more compelling than the straightforward narrative," read the review of the Houghton Harcourt hc, LJ 4/15/13.]--Tristan M. Boyd, Westbank Community Lib., Austin, TX

    Copyright 2013 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus Reviews "Creepy doings—certificates of insanity, switched identities, morbid personalities—in and around an asylum in nineteenth-century England...Harwood certainly makes the atmosphere work here."
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    Blackstone Publishing
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The Asylum
A Novel
John Harwood
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