The Asylum

The Asylum

by John Harwood
4.0 23

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The Asylum by John Harwood

“Harwood, master of creeping Victorian horror, does it again . . . Twisted in every sense of the word and wonderfully atmospheric.”—Booklist

Confused and disoriented, Georgina Ferrars awakens in a small room in Tregannon House, a remote asylum in 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, 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? Georgina’s perilous quest to free herself takes us 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.

“Redolent with a sense of foreboding . . . This gothic tale will sweep you up into the very heart of Victorian England. A splendid read!”—Historical Novel Society, Editors’ Choice

“A richly textured . . . [and] masterfully constructed narrative . . . Readers are guaranteed a thoroughly diverting time in Harwood’s not-to-be-trusted hands.”—The Independent (UK)

“The crisp prose and twisty plot will encourage many to read this in one sitting.”—Publishers Weekly

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780544003293
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 05/21/2013
Sold by: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 327,756
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

John Harwood is the author of two previous novels of Victorian Gothic suspense. Aside from fiction, his published work includes biography, poetry, political journalism and literary history. His acclaimed first novel, The Ghost Writer, won the International Horror Guild's First Novel Award. He lives in Hobart, Australia.

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The Asylum 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
Mirella More than 1 year ago
If you like gothic stories, then this third novel by John Harwood is sure to please. Set in the Victorian era, it opens with a young woman named Georgina Ferrars who wakes up in an insane asylum. She is confused, for her memory has faded. She has no memory of how she arrived there and the asylum doctor and nurses tell her that gave her name as Lucy Ashton. But she knows this is false – she is truly Georgina, but the more she tries to convince the doctor of her true identity, the less they believe her and the more she finds herself trapped in the asylum. What ensues is a gripping mystery about stolen identities, greed, betrayal, and murder. A real page-turner! I do not wish to reveal any more information to avoid any spoilers. The author takes the reader on a journey through time, revealing mere tidbits of information as the truth is slowly revealed. Although the ending is highly satisfying, I did find the final scenes pertaining to the electronic device a little hard to believe. I have not read any books by John Harwood before, but I definitely intend to do so. He knows how to weave a good story and create spell-binding characters. He has the talent to create a creepy mood while you’re reading the book, so read with care so that you don’t miss any of the clues he drops into various scenes. Gothic mystery at its best!
ehj13 More than 1 year ago
It kept me interested. A light quick read. ehj13
-TheLadyinPurple More than 1 year ago
With the essentials and a perfect overall Gothic atmosphere that mirrors some of the classics of the genre: Lady Audley's Secret, The Woman in White and even a nod to Rebecca, The Asylum is a tale that may find its way to the top of many Gothic Victorian admirers' reading lists. The novel provides superb description and story building that may leave the reader finishing this novel in one sitting. Mr. Harwood has captured the Victorian timeline complete with research of many elements such as believable dialogue, enlightenment on the psychological and psychosomatic beliefs and practices of the time period and created an intriguing tale all swirling around the obscurity and oddly this still ended in disappoint for this reviewer. The novel starts with classic mystery narration but then ends with a rapid procession of unbelievable coincidences that may be justified with the saying "stranger things have happened". True, stranger things have happened but The Asylum is a novel that crosses into the saying "stranger tales have been told". With all the positives there are negatives that must be shared with the potential reader. Unfortunately, the latter parts of the novel did not match the first and the tension sagged with the introduction of the "twists" in the second part. The utmost potential of the setting seemed to be not fully utilized and became lost with the progression of the story. The anticipation of confronting darker themes were introduced and used briefly but then were overshadowed by a string of confusing out of place scenes. True, the ending does end with the unexpected but the ending also concludes with more questions than answers. The last regrettable observation is the modern belief that updated novels that so carefully try to pay homage to the classics must include a shocking scene or a parade of scandalous scenes and The Asylum plays with those notions (and depending on the reader may enjoy). With the positives barely overbalancing the awkward negatives, I'm sorry to say The Asylum is a tossup to be a must-read or be placed on a list to wait to borrow at the local Library.
JBronder More than 1 year ago
A young lady wakes to find herself in a strange room. She learns that she is at Tregannon House, a mental asylum. The doctor tells her that she admitted herself the night before under the name Lucy Ashton but then had a violent seizure. But this can’t be right, her name is Georgina Ferrars. But when the doctor brings her the belongings she brought with her, everything has LA on it even though none of it is familiar to Georgina. Georgina convinces the doctor to send a message to her uncle, her only surviving relative to confirm her identity. But the reply comes back that Georgina is safe at home and that Georgina/Lucy is an imposter. Then her voluntary admittance becomes involuntary. Clearly something is wrong with Georgina and she needs to be treated. While still insisting that she is not Lucy, Georgina finds some letters and a diary in her belongings. This starts the flashbacks and jumps to explain what is going on. But things are still murky. Then we start the mad pace to the end with a surprise, twist ending. I was really curious about how this book would go, but I had a hard time trying to get into it. I was curious about Georgina and what could be the reason behind the story. When she finds the letters and diary I was hoping that this would clear things up but it just got worse. They jumped around all over the place and I was completely lost. This was an interesting story but I will admit that it just wasn’t one that I liked. It’s not bad and I do see a lot of other people really liked it. I think this is one of those books that you either really like or don’t. I think if you really like the gothic thrillers this would be the book for you. I received this book for free a long time ago in exchange for an honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I truly wanted to enjoy this book, but turned the final page with a sigh of disappointment. The writing style was wonderful, and the opening narrative allowed for many interesting paths the story could follow. But Part Two introduced decades old letters from a mystery relative with uncanny relevance to the heroine's daily life, which led her rather directly along a path manipulated from the outset by an unseen evildoer. Motivations were forced, plot was convoluted and a final monologue when the mystery is at last revealed left me groaning.
Celia_Cristina More than 1 year ago
The last third of this novel was just terrible.  It was rushed, poorly constructed, the ending was practically phoned in.  I was so disappointed because it seemed really promising literally until the final 60 pages or so.  I honestly wouldn't bother.  If you're looking for a good mystery with a satisfying, logical ending- don't look here.    
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Identiy theft? Lie vs. Truth? Forced insanity? One answer just leads to two more questions! This is certainly not a cookie-cutter plot........and that's what makes it a good read. Lots of twists and imagination in this work. The truth is revealed in layers. Am interested in reading more from this author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I work in a psyche hospital so I find this a good read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love it. Continue!!!!!<p>&#9825KHfan4ever&#9825
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Its meeeeeeeeeeeee again! These asylum guardians remind me of dementors from harry potter. Anyone else see the connection?
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Pfft, who needs sleep?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Whenever i read about the guardian, the first thing i think is: WHAT IS THAT THING?!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love it! It's quite imaginative. One thing, you should explain why this creature guarss the ayslum. Is it something it was bound to? Was it a patient that died there?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
John Harwood copied parts of book called 'The Medea Complex' by Rachel Florence Roberts. The Medea Complex is a much better read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It became dark and night was upon us. We were grieving the loss of the family pet, but we still found time to watch the last thirty minutes of America's Funniest Home Videos at eight pm. Needless to say, there was no laughing from our perspective. <br> Ten o'clock, time for bed. Alex was already asleep. I brushed my teeth and got in bed smoothly enough not to disturb my little brother. <br> It was a restless night. I heard something outside walking around in the back yard. That was all i could take. I got some blankets, found a nice secure closet with no windows, and locked myself inside until morning. I got about an hour worth of sleep as i slipped in and out of consciousness. Ten minutes before my alarm clock went off, I carried myself back to my bed. I was exhausted. I nearly did a nosedive into my cereal thirty minutes later. I knew what I was going to do, I was going to get some sleep without that... thing bothering me. But how? <br> I saw the answer later while getting dressed on my older brother's bedside table. A fully loaded .45 cal. <br> Another borring day of school. As soon as I got home I ran upstairs and emptied my backpack. In place of my school supplies, I stored $50, a matchbox, a flashlight, a neon yellow bunge chord, and a few cans of pork and beans. I threw my bag over one shoulder and shoved my brother's pistol in my left pocket, along with my dad's pocket knife. I left a note simply saying that I would be back before dark and had all that I would need. <br> I walked out the back door and into the woods. I traveled for about 15 minutes before I was sure it was following me. Nowt all I needed was to get it in good range where I could make sure I had a good shot. I had used this gun before at a shooting range, and my dad said I was a "da<_>mn fine shooter." Well, time to put that to the test. <br> I walked in circles for the next few hours and finally decided to rest. It was all nice and calm except for the distant crunching of leafs. It was really close. I looked at my pack lying next to me and took out the pocket knife and bunge chord, tying it around the tree and splicing it with a branch so that I could find out where I hid my things. I then proceeded to cover my pack with leafs. <br> I shouldn't have done that. <br> As I continued stacking leaves over my pack, my finger struck a large bleach-white stone. I went to pick it up and my fingers sunk into two deep holes right next to each other. I jerked my fingers out and uncovered it. What I saw was not a stone at, it was a human skull. I threw myself back in fear. Then I realized that I didn't hear the distant crunching of leafs anymore. Something right behind me was breathing heavily. <br> I looked up and stared right into the glowing eyes of the guardian. I scrambled for the gun in my pocket when it brought a long clawed hand down across my arm, cutting a deep gash in the flesh. I bled horribly, it must have ruptured a blood vessel. The last thing I remember was watching two men in all-white clothing with surgical masks and caps on step forward and stand over me. <br> That was when I blacked out.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Psych-ic ward is where i belong.