From the Publisher
“Vaught's gradual building of her ghost-busting team nicely juggles attitude and fright, and she excels at bringing each story to a conclusion while still driving to an overall climax. Readers not ready for full-on nightmares will eagerly check into this madhouse.” Booklist
“Vaught mines a wealth of local history and urban legends to achieve her scares . . . This is still a cinematic ghost story that requires only a dark and stormy night to complete the mood.” BCCB
“Teens looking for an eerie ghost story will want to check this one out.” School Library Journal
“An illuminating, recommended read.” Kirkus Reviews on Freaks Like Us
“Vaught deftly manipulates stereotypes of a broad array of characters-"alphabets," delinquents, parents, siblings, even FBI agents-to reveal the question that reverberates through the densely constructed novel: are we defined by how we perceive ourselves or by how others see us?” The Horn Book Magazine on Freaks Like Us
“An original and meaningful work that provokes thought about action, consequence, redemption, and renewal.” Booklist, starred review, on Trigger
VOYA, February 2014 (Vol. 36, No. 6) - Natalie Simonian
While Vaught uses vivid descriptions throughout her novel, the same basic storyline is repeated not once, not twice, but three times. The author never clearly explains the structure of her supernatural world. The reader views the world through the first-person perspective of three characters who also do not understand the rules. However, Vaught’s minute details bring the story to life and make it a frightening read, especially at night. Reviewer: Natalie Simonian, Teen Reviewer; Ages 15 to 18.
VOYA, February 2014 (Vol. 36, No. 6) - Lauri J. Vaughan
Insanity tells the stories of Levi, Forest, Darius, Trina, and Lincoln. Only four of them are human. Lincoln is the Lincoln Psychiatric Hospital in Never, Kentucky. The haunted asylum, complete with its shadowy tunnels and mysteriously ringing bell tower, is where the paths of the other four intersect. It is also a place where the division of the world of the dead and that of the living gets very thin. Insanity is divided into four parts, told by alternating narrators as they are introduced to the plot, with the exception of Levi, who is present from the beginning and whose voice narrates the final section. The effect is a woven braid of each narrator’s initiation into the horror-tinged world that is Lincoln and those who populate it, both living and dead. Fans of creepy ghost stories will enjoy Vaught’s ability to make the unreal real. She expertly uses her characters’ disorientation to leverage the same condition in her reader, which takes some getting used to in the first section, told by Forest. In addition to plenty of horrific and terrifying episodes, Vaught manages to weave in romance, even the tension of forbidden love. Her ability to make the setting a presence strengthens the ghostly tale. Unfortunately, Lincoln may be her most fully realized character. The others are rather difficult to distinguish and not especially compelling. Still, readers who do not need powerful personalities to draw them through a good chiller will find Insanity a worthy read. Reviewer: Lauri J. Vaughan; Ages 15 to 18.
A psychiatric hospital in Never, Ky., forms the locus for all sorts of occult and paranormal activities. Forest has just aged out of the foster-care system and is new on the job at Lincoln Psychiatric, hoping to earn enough money to get to college. Darius has also just taken a job at Lincoln to save money for college. Trina is Darius' girlfriend, and she leaves college to take an internship at Lincoln. And Levi--since Levi was murdered and then brought back to life (sort of) by his grandmother, "granny-woman" Imogene--has haunted the halls of Lincoln, helping the recently dead "cross over" and keeping tabs on all of the malevolent spirits that Lincoln seems to attract. Though born at and living in different times, the four teens converge for a series of paranormal adventures. In four linked novellas, each teen tells a story of utmost creepiness, but aside from the locale and atmosphere, there is little overarching logic. The paranormal knack that comes with "Madoc blood"--descent from the Welsh prince who, according to folklore, came to the New World in 1170--is one element, but there's also witchcraft and plenty of garden-variety evil. The central question of exactly what makes Lincoln such a magnet for ghosts, haints, shades and whatnot is never satisfactorily addressed. Readers content to do without the plotted throughline of a novel will find plenty of effective horror set pieces here. (Horror. 14 & up)
Children's Literature - Jeanna Potts
The book is divided into four sections with each section presenting the first-person point of view of Levi, Forest, Trinia, or Darius. Eventually, the four join together to fight evil and paranormal characters who use “thin spots” in the Lincoln Psychiatric Hospital in Never, Kentucky, to enter into this world. The story begins with a prologue in which Levi seems to be murdered. Levi is the grandson of Imogene, director of Medical Records, who has been at Lincoln for hundreds of years. She researches and records all incidents of paranormal activity, and she is instrumental in combating them and protecting this world from the apparitions. As her energy wanes, she passes her knowledge to the four younger characters. The first story is that of Forest Anderson. Forest is an aide at Lincoln, and she wears a wooden bracelet decorated with iron beads. This bracelet protects her and allows her to see the spirits and the thin spots. In the first section, Section two introduces Darius who wears a pendant of petrified wood shaped like a shark’s tooth. Darius is a new guard at the hospital where his grandmother is a patient. She is admitted after killing her husband, Eff Leer. Eff Leer used to kill boys and take their teeth. Even though Eff Leer is dead, he crosses back into the world. Darius needs to stop him. The third section tells the story of Darius’s girlfriend, Trinia, who is a witch with an extremely religious father. His goal is to kill everyone with Madoc blood, and he becomes angry when he discovers his daughter is dating someone with Madoc blood. Trinia joins with Darius and the other characters to rid the asylum of evil beings The last section builds on the prologue with Levi telling his story. In each section the young people defeat an evil ghost or spirit. The story is interesting and written in such a manner as to keep the reader intrigued and guessing. The author’s uses her experience with mental patients to develop an intriguing and unique story. Reviewer: Jeanna Potts; Ages 12 up.
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—The spirits living at Lincoln Psychiatric Hospital in Never, Kentucky, are restless, creepy, and memorable. They don't play nice with the four teen employees who each tell a different story. Forest meets a dead teen whose job is to help others cross over; Darius, haunted by the words of his grandmother, must defeat the ghost of his murdering grandfather; Trina, a witch, is at odds with her father who is out to exterminate those with Madoc blood; and Levi, a lost soul, helps connect the four stories. The secrets that lurk in the tunnels of the hospital are revealed throughout. While the novel is eerie, the magical powers that are introduced tame the darker elements. Readers will appreciate the way that Vaught has brought the four tales together to an overall climax but first brings each story to its own conclusion. At times, the stories stray a bit, but readers will want to stick with it as Vaught has made the ending worth the trip. Teens looking for an eerie ghost story will want to check this one out.—Karen Alexander, Lake Fenton High School, Linden, MI