Life for Patient 29 is full of medicated day dreams of a life outside the walls of Soothing Hills Asylum. But fantasies are not all that consume her. A monster roams the halls of the sanitarium she reluctantly calls home and three girls have been found dead. The dead girls share one common thread . . . each was 29's cell mate. As the investigation gets under way, she retreats into her mind, listening to the voices that call to her. She is endowed with the cursed gift of perception. Through it, she hears messages carried upon the notes of music, discerns words hidden among the strokes of paintings, and minds pleadings for help from the corn field outside.
Could the key to the murders lie within 29's broken mind? Mason, an orderly, does not see 29 as a lunatic and as his belief in her grows so does her self-confidence. The possibility of one day leaving the asylum seems less and less like a fantasy. But the monster has other plans for her. Leaving will not be so easy, at least not while she is alive.
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.80(d)|
|Age Range:||12 Years|
About the Author
Brynn Chapman is a pediatric therapist and a medical contributor to the online journal, Age of Autism. She is the author of Boneseeker. She lives in Lower Burrell, Pennsylvania.
Read an Excerpt
The Requiem Red
By Brynn Chapman
Month9BooksCopyright © 2016 Brynn Chapman
All rights reserved.
1894, Soothing Hills Sanatorium
Philadelphia, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
"Jane! Jane, where are you? There has been an accident!"
Nurse Sally's tremulous voice echoes down the sanatorium's hallway, ricocheting off the walls like mad bats in flight. I close my eyes, press my lips tight, and keep silent.
I flinch at the use of my patient number and slide from the hidden window seat, snapping my book closed to bound down the corridor. The nurse's cry came from the direction of my room.
"Twenty-niiiine ..." a male, sing-song voice calls out through the bars. I swerve and dart out of his way, narrowly missing those yellowed, grasping fingernails. My heartbeat doubles as I spin and run faster.
What has she done now?
My roommate Lily is truly disturbed. I spend most of my time out of the room, out of her way, because of her howling, because of her —
I round the corner and skid to a halt, instantaneously shaking.
Lily's long blond hair spreads out on her cot like a coquette's fan. Her eyes are closed. Her chest appears ... still.
"Jane, go for help. Now. Run to Ward 4 and fetch Dr. Grayjoy!"
I stand staring, blood frozen in my veins, feet frozen to the floor. Lily's head gives a violent jerk, and I gasp.
"For the love of heaven, now, you imbecile!"
I run. But not before I see the wall. Not before I see the message scrawled above her bed.
Help me. I know not what I do.
* * *
Soothing Hills Asylum Visitors' Salon
"Bravo! Bra-vo, Miss Frost!" Willis Graceling, my would-be-suitor, claps too loudly.
I wince, but curtsy all the same, deftly moving my cello behind me. I walk off the small stage and ease myself into the milling crowd.
Father claps as well, slow and deliberate. Everyone in the salon follows his lead, though truth be told, it is a distracted applause. These hospital patrons and philanthropists are more interested in donations and connections than what musical selection I have performed this eve.
The windows are fogged from the patrons' breath and the too many bodies in this too-warm room, despite the chilled fall breezes that whisper at the panes, reminding us that winter is coming. My eyes roam as I try to calm myself — to prepare for the onslaught of attention. I am unused to such large gatherings due to my largely sequestered upbringing.
Crystal goblets of rose-red flash by on a silver tray, just beneath my nose, close enough to catch the fragrant bouquet. I snatch one and the waiter raises an eyebrow, but says nothing, hurrying back into the fray. I am used to the whispers of virtuoso, but the outright attention I do not prefer. I would rather wield the pen and music and have another perform it.
Colors now dance behind my eyes. I picture them weaving in and out of the wrinkles in my brain. Notes appear in color for me. The color-note correlation never alters, like my own multi-hued, musical alphabet. This ability allowed me to learn to play at a very, very young age. As a child, I merely wished to see the rainbow in my mind.
Papa strides toward me, black eyes narrowing as his substantial arm slides about my waist, shuffling me into the crowd.
He whispers, "That was very good, Jules."
His eyes shift through the patrons, nodding and smiling, but out of the side of his mouth, he says, "But I have heard it played better. In your own chambers."
Willis trails behind us like a bounding, oversized puppy. I can almost see the leash from his neck to my father's belt. Or perhaps an invisible chain from his coin purse to my maidenhead.
I am to be sold, er, married within the year.
Father vacates my arm, and I sigh in relief, but he is quickly replaced by Willis's eager face. "Shall I fetch you some punch, Jules?"
"Thank you, that would be lovely."
I ghost to the window and wrap my shawl tighter about my shoulders to guard against the draft sliding beneath its frame. Outside, a vast cornfield dies a day at a time. Remnants of green poke through the blackened leaves — as if hazel-eyed fairies play hide-and-seek, peeking out of the gloom-colored stalks.
I turn to watch Willis's retreating form, disappearing into the society crowd, and cannot stay the sigh.
It is not so very terrible. He is handsome ... and kind. Better than many other prospects I have had forced upon me. If people were flavors, Willis Graceling would decidedly be vanilla. Though nothing is decidedly wrong with vanilla, it is predictable, and quite often a filler.
I bite my lip.
I always dreamed of sharing my life with more of a ... curry.
A gaggle of what my mind has deemed society women descends. Women with whom I share no connection, no interests, but for the sake of reputation, I must politely endure their inane conversation.
"Jules, it was so lovely. Did you truly compose it yourself?"
"Yes." My stomach contracts.
Despite the low din of their prattling voices, I hear it.
A trickle of fear erupts in a violent shiver as gooseflesh puckers my arms.
"Whatever is the matter, child?" Lady Bennington's face pinches with concern.
I shake my head. "Nothing."
But I hear it ... louder. Growing louder every second. The music, wafting in with the draft, as if the dying corn laments its own demise.
I curtsy. "Please do excuse me. I am feeling a bit faint. Perhaps the night air will set me to rights." And without waiting for their reply, I make my getaway to the back of the salon, toward the door.
I slip out to the darkened porch and lean the back of my head against the door, closing my eyes. A multitude of covered lanterns cast a yellow haze over the myriad of rocking chairs, which now move in time with the breeze. As if the hospitals past invisible inhabitants sit, waiting in other-worldly expectation. Listening. As I listen.
It has been so long since I heard this music. Childhood experience has taught me only I hear this music. It seems to live only in my mind.
Maeve, my governess, forbade me to speak of it.
When I was but three, I first told her of the music. Of the words I hear in the music. Not in every song ... only very specific melodies. Not lyrics, precisely, but intonations ... like a whispered message. The harmonious voice whispering promises between the notes. She made me promise never to mention it again. Especially not to Father. I heeded her warning, the terror in her round, dark eyes forever etched in my memory.
The notes now pull and tug at my chest, as if sawing through my sternum, managing to wrench my rib cage open, as the tones grasp my heart and squeeze. The music elicits unwelcome tears.
A single phrase repeats over and over, embedded in the sound, like a musical Morse code.
Save me. Save me. Save me.
I bite my lip, then whisper, "From where. Who are you?"CHAPTER 2
"You know something, Jane. What happened to Lily?"
Dr. Frost's eyes are abnormally round — wild and wide as his livid mouth.
The leather straps tighten around my wrists, and I thrash against them. I smile ruefully. Three burly orderlies are necessary to contain me. Once a panic hits, I am as wild as any mountain cat.
My thoughts cloud as the familiar mental-mist descends.
I see the events as if through another's eyes as my mind prepares to escape.
My dirty bare foot strikes out, connecting with the young one's face, leaving a sooty streak. "You little —"
"Hold your tongue, James."
The doctor stalks back and forth before me, his eyes boring into mine as the remaining three white coats firmly affix my ankles to the chair. I thrash and strain, but it's futile. Tears made of fear and anger bead and stream down my face.
My teeth grind and gnash. I detest this room. The very smell of it gives birth to the raging panic.
It is gargantuan, once an airing yard — with a glass roof that cranks open and closed. My mind has labeled it Frost's playground, where he has used his giant intellect to fashion every type of device — all designed for therapeutic torture.
To my right, the sloshing of a dunk tank. A woman, barely conscious, hangs limply from the seesaw as it plunges her once and again and again into ice-baths. To my left, three women, strapped to gurneys, retch into chamber pots — all undoubtedly have consumed the crème of tartar — its sickening mixture shall roil their guts and have them vomiting until their ribs cry out for mercy. Behind them, a second set of gurneys — these residents with black, writhing polka dots peppering their alabaster skin. Leeches.
I stare straight forward, panting, licking my dry lips.
But this ... he has saved the worst for me. As is his custom. Frost detests me above all others.
"Please. Not this treatment," I wail, channeling as much sarcasm as possible into the word. "I tell you, I was in the common room. I have no idea what happened to Lily."
Or to Faith. Or to Candace. My two roommates before her.
Or the other three women who had disappeared off the women's floor, as if into the ether, over the past two decades.
I hear the whispers among the staff, a killer is loose — either a patient as skilled as Harry Houdini at slipping his restraints, or a deranged staff member.
I am a suspect. After all, three of the missing were my roommates.
"You lie, Jane. You always lie." Frost's lips retract to reveal white, straight teeth. Teeth that remind me of white-washed tombstones.
Indeed, he is very handsome. A handsome, dangerous, deranged jackal, with complete and total power as to whether I live or die.
If you can call asylum life living.
I have none to speak for me. An orphan. I have been here, behind these towering walls, as long as I can remember. I know not even my last name. My only home is this land of divergent reality.
The clanging sound of cogs grind to life as the smell of oil hits, my nostrils instantly flaring; I break out in a sweat, retching. A learned response. The contraption shudders as my chair whirls into the air, my stomach dropping as I soar into the cathedral heights of the asylum.
The windows are open wide, the night wind battering my upturned face. I register the first droplets of rain before the machine veers, plunging me downward. Lightning flashes in the sky-windows overhead, and I shudder, my teeth clacking together like a skeleton's song. My mind fills with music — sorrowful, weeping chords of self-pity.
I soar into the heights again, nearly striking the glass ceiling. The chair revolves slowly now, but as I am easily sickened by any circular motion, my head buzzes, thick with panic.
I gag, crying, pleading. "P-please, Dr. Frost. Pray, have mercy."
I whiz past and see the manic gleam in Frost's eye. "Up one notch, Nurse Sally."
"No, pleeease! I shall speak! I shall speak!"
The revolutions increase again, and I close my eyes, my mind sloshing back and forth in my skull like wine trying to vacate the lip of a goblet. I feel my soul slip inward, preparing to depart. I was once mute for an entire year.
There were no words worth uttering.
"Slower now, bring her to me."
The contraption slows, spinning toward him.
His face, the wall, the nurse, the other patients. His face, the wall, the nurse, the other patients.
"I said, Jane. Did you see anything?"
"Yes!" I lie. "Yes!" I will tell him I am bloody Queen Victoria if it will stop the revolutions.
The chair halts, and I double over, sobbing, heaving, and expel my breakfast onto my bare feet. My arms are still tethered so that I hang from the chair like a swooping crane in flight.
"What did you see?"
"Release me," I bark. "Not till you release me." I try to revive my courage.
To find my rage.
Rough hands loosen the buckles, and I crumple to the floor, my face drinking in the cold stone of the flagstones, ever so grateful for the pull of the earth and gravity.
"I-I saw her sneak out," I pant. "The night before she died. She ... she was meeting someone."
"That is all I know, I swear! She swore me to silence."
The idea is ludicrous. Lily barely recognized her name, let alone possessed the cognition needed to plan an escape. The asylum is locked tight with two hundred acres of vast forest surrounding it. A veritable fortress. The only way people depart are in body bags. Or the crematorium.
My mind whispers, Or they go to Ward Thirteen. And vacate in spirit.
I shudder. That would be a fate worse than death.
A tight grapevine of information passes from loose-lipped staff to indiscrete patients. Ablations are performed in Thirteen. It is supposed to be the fate of only the most violent, the most uncontrollable — but there were rumors.
Rumors that the missing girls perished there — doomed to walk the halls at night like shuffling, aimless cadavers. Not dead, not alive. No more than animated corpses — the remnants of their personalities let loose to fly away by the holes drilled in their skulls.
"Take Patient Twenty-Nine to her room."
Hands thrust under my arms to haul me off the floor, and my cheek is pressed against the new orderly's chest. The smell. He has the most inviting smell. Not at all like the others. I automatically burrow my face into it like a child.
Pain. With each and every breath, as if nettles have overrun my chest. Dr. Grayjoy says my mind changes worry and fear into physical pain.
Times like this, life seems too difficult to endure.
The specter of mutism lingers, threatening to crawl up my throat and squeeze my vocal cords to dust. It has happened before. To ward it off, I begin to hum middle C, over and over. Often fear overpowers me, and I begin calling on a God I am unsure hears my prayers.
Consciousness fades, then returns as I hear his footfalls echo through the halls. I fight to concentrate on the turns, to focus on where he is taking me, but my consciousness flares and dims.
Humming. His chest vibrates against my ear, and I struggle to remember what happened.
Mason. Praise Providence, it is the new, kind orderly.
His footfalls echo, and the sound ricochets throughout the high hallways as he carries me.
I instantly recognize where I am as the scents alter from urine to lavender. Plants I have picked myself are strewn about my room in scavenged containers to ward off the asylum smells.
I am home. My room.
I feel my cot depress beneath me, and his large, warm hands cradle my neck.
A cool cloth presses to my forehead. "How did you come to be here, Patient Twenty-Nine?" he whispers, thinking me asleep.
I try to open my lips to speak, but —
"Shh. Rest. Sleep now. I will watch over you. I will be out in the hall, not far away. No harm shall come to you."
His accent is Scottish. And nearly musical. I fervently wish he would keep speaking. About anything, about nothing. I find his intonations calm my heart.
He squeezes my hand, and the warmth of it is replaced by the cool rag. I raise it to my face, like a child would a familiar doll, and breathe deeply. Its scent, his scent, brings an unfamiliar feeling. It takes me a moment to pinpoint the feeling ... Security. It sends me directly into a blissfully dreamless slumber.
* * *
"How was it, Miss Jules? The ball?" Abilene, my lady's maid, inquires.
Maeve, my one-time governess, raises her eyebrows, feigning an interest in the fall gardens outside, her long fingers twirling my lace curtains.
I shrug. "Fine."
Her shrewd, gray eyes narrow as Abilene gathers the sheets from my bed, rolling them into a ball. "And your arrangement was well-received?"
"I believe that will do, Abilene. Leave us now," Maeve directs.
Abilene huffs, but she and her dirty bundle stomp out into the hallway.
I stand and walk to the window. The same vast cornfield stretches between our lands to the music hall. Our hamlet, on the outskirts of Philadelphia proper, is known for corn, an overabundance of yellow and green at every turn.
Maeve clears her throat, demanding my attention. "How did your recital go, Jules?"
"Well enough, I suppose."
Her eyes scrutinize, as they have since I was old enough to toddle.
Excerpted from The Requiem Red by Brynn Chapman. Copyright © 2016 Brynn Chapman. Excerpted by permission of Month9Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Not my usual pick of books, but I am glad I took a chance on this one. Jane is Patient Twenty-nine in a asylum back in the 1890's. She hears voices in music, and this is what she has always thought put her in the asylum when she was five years old. Throughout the story, there is definitely a higher guiding force in play here as she learns of her past, of her family, and what the voices she hears really are. I gave this book four stars because the ending was not an ending, in my opinion. The conclusion just "stopped", full brake. AGH!!!! Now what????
I didn't like the book at all. In fact I skimmed it just to see how it ends. Even the end was not satisfactory. Thank goodness it was free!
Two girls. One, patient twenty-nine in Soothing Hills Asylum (that is anything but soothing as it dehumanizes its patients). The second, the esteemed daughter of the Asylum’s head doctor. Both have catlike eyes and hear whispers of words in the music they see everywhere. But there are more problems going on their bizarre connection. There is something killing some of the other women in the asylum, all of whom were roommates with patient twenty-nine before their deaths. And the head doctor has a dark side only his daughter and the servants are aware of. The Requiem Red by Brynn Chapman is just as dark and bizarre as the one other book I have read by Chapman, The Violet Hour. Words hidden in music. Monsters in the night. Hair changing from brown to white overnight. The patients might not be the only insane ones. Then, throw in a couple whirl-wind romances… I can’t quite figure out whether or not I like this book. It was so weird and dark but yet so interesting. It pulled me in and kept me interested in the tale of these two ladies. I figured out a couple of the mysteries, but not all. And the ending was a complete surprise. It left me hanging, and I’m not even sure there will be a second book! So frustrating. I didn’t like some of the darker elements, though they added depth and danger to this tale. One thing is for sure, though. I will never look at insane asylum’s the same way again. Back in the early 1900’s and before, asylums were more like a prison than a place of healing. People were hospitalized for a variety of ridiculous and reasons, including when husbands wanted an excuse to remarry. The Requiem Red did an unforgettable job of showing life inside one of those asylums. Makes me feel even sorrier for my great-grandfather who was entered in an asylum around the turn of the twentieth century for stealing his family’s car (and escaped a couple of times) … but that is a story for another day. The Requiem Red was as fascinating as it was bizarre. I recommend it to lovers of the weird with a dose of YA romance. I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Brynn Chapman's Boneseeker was the start of my love for all things Brynn Chapman. Then came The Violet Hour, and now The Requiem Red. Brynn's talent continues to grow, and each book leaves me more breathless. They are each so very different from one another, but one thing always shines through. This lady knows how to write an amazing story! I am hooked! Before moving on to the review, I just want to say one thing about Month9Books... I feel like this publishing company was custom made for me. I have absolutely adored every book that I have had the pleasure to read and review. If you haven't had the chance to check out any of their books, please do. You do not know what you are missing! Okay, here we go... I loved it. From the first page, my imagination was captured. I was transported to this cold, harsh asylum where they have kept a young girl almost her entire life. Called crazy, and delusional so often that, at times, Jane, or Patient Twenty Nine, actually believes them. Alone, Unloved. Treated so badly. But things are changing for Jane, thanks to a new orderly named Mason who is a light in her darkness, and Dr. Grayjoy, the young doctor who has been assigned to her case. Farther outside of Dr. Frost's cruelty, Jane starts to have hopes for a life she never dreamed of. I was living in a mansion, isolated and alone, with Jules. Her only friend, her governess Maeve, who was her mother's best friend before she passed. And her father, Dr.Frost, whom she is never sure if he will be Good Papa, or father. For eighteen years, Jules was not allowed outside of her home, but now she is engaged to a young man, gentle and kind, who she doesn't love, and allowed to work at her fathers asylum a few days a week. This is Jules' freedom, being in the asylum and caring for the patients. And trying to solve a mystery that could put her in danger. She also meets the handsome and caring physick, Dr. Grayjoy, and begins to see what attraction and possibly more, really looks like. These two girls are so similar in some ways, but their upbringing's have made them so different. Yet, you could feel the parallels between them grow as we come to know them. The one thing about both Jane and Jules that stuck out the most for me was their bravery. They each face hardships, and cruelties, yet they continue to stay strong... and to hold on to hope. I loved them both. Their relationships, with Mason and Dr. Grayjoy, were innocent yet full of yearning. I loved the growth of both romances. And both Mason and the doctor were wonderful characters. They both care so much, and are willing to put themselves at risk to do right by Jane and Jules. I definitely shipped throughout The Requiem Red. I don't want to give much away about the plot, but I will say that the mystery kept me guessing until almost the end. I kept thinking I understood, but some new information would arise, and I would be completely clueless again. The paranormal aspects weren't hardcore, but were enough to add another level of depth to the story. Finally, the pacing isn't lightning fast. It is a fairly slower paced read, but that works in this books favor. It allows the reader the chance to really imagine the worlds of these characters, and let the author add more detail to the story that made it what it was. Told in alternating viewpoints, with chapters from Jules, Jane, Dr. Grayjoy and Mason, The Requiem Red was more than I could have hoped for. I loved getting into the minds of each of
Monsters, orchestral corn music, haunted asylums, and a little romance and mystery thrown in? I knew this book was going to be deliciously weird and that I had to get my hands on it as soon as I could! There were just so many excellent things about The Requiem Red, and Brynn's gorgeous writing had me glued to the page from the very first sentence. Patient 29 (Jane) is such an interesting girl. She's grown up in the mental asylum, but she's an incredibly talented musician and artist. She's also much more stable than most of the other patients, but not supposedly stable enough for the "real world." This book is told from multiple perspectives, and I think Jane's were my favorite. They're very raw and emotional, and I just really enjoyed seeing things from her point of view. She knows way more than she lets on, but she's careful to keep things secret when she knows they'll only get her in trouble. I also really enjoyed getting to know Jules, our second narrator. Like Jane, she has a talent for music and doesn't remember much of her past. Her father happens to be Jane's doctor, and she uses that as her in to the asylum. She volunteers a few days a week, when her father allows her to (and sometimes even when he doesn't!), in an attempt to learn more about the asylum, its patients, and a particular doctor. Although Jules has lived outside the asylum her whole life, a lot of her sections take place inside it and I thought seeing it from the perspective of an outsider was a nice twist. Both girls have a little romance in their lives, although Jane's appears sooner and is given more time to blossom from friendship into something more. I really liked Mason, although I was very suspicious of him for a little while, and I'm glad things worked out like they did for him and Jane. Jule's romantic interest is a bit one-sided for most of the book, but I was also glad when things worked out like they did for her. The thing that really had me hooked though was the monster roaming the halls, stealing the girls who were Jane's roommates and trying to get to her. Even though Jane knows he exists, and even knows his name, no one else can seem to find any record of him. I kept trying to figure it out on my own, but wasn't able to until just before it's revealed to the reader and the characters. Looking back, I feel like there were so many hints that I should have known, but the mystery of it all kept me on the edge of my seat so I'm not too upset that I didn't figure it out! All in all, I loved most of this book. It was the right mixture of weird and creepy and romantic. But then, at the very end, in the last few pages, things just went all out in left field. I knew the corn music was important, and "The Requiem Red," but I was NOT expecting that ending. Like, at all. I finished the book so, so confused and had to just sit there for a little bit to process. I definitely need to know what happens next, since I still am so confused and just... what even. I'd still recommend this book to anyone looking for a beautiful, gothic read! Just be prepared for all kinds of weird things. 4/5! *I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*
This is not typically the type of book I read, but it was better than I expected. Julie and Jane were intriguing characters with each having to learn to deal with identity issues. While the beginning is a bit hard to follow, the rest of the book draws you in quickly. It is a book that I devoured quickly and longed for more. Can't wait until the next book!
The year is 1894. Welcome to the Soothing Hills Sanatorium, Philadelphia, where Patient Twenty-Nine (whose real name is Jane) has been an inmate her whole life. Her affliction? She hears voices and sees colors in music. Throughout her stay, women have mysteriously disappeared, most of them being Jane's roommates. Could she be responsible for their disappearance, or is she herself in danger? We are introduced to a cast of interesting characters: Mason, the new orderly; kind Dr Grayjoy; the mysterious Dr Cloud; sadistic Dr Frost; his nineteen-year-old daughter Jules, whose mother died when she was young; and Maeve, her governess. But what really happened to Jules's mother, and who is the little girl Jules remembers from her childhood? This book is part love story, part mystery, part Gothic horror story, but becomes more and more paranormal as the story progresses. The author skilfully captures the speech, mannerisms, and atmosphere of the time. However, I found the plot to be predictable and had it all worked out very shortly into the book. Nevertheless, the author manages to maintain suspense with the quick pace and the uncertainty as to how things will be resolved. Alternating chapters and passages are told from Jane's and Jules's points-of-view. However, some chapters/passages are labelled and some are not, making it very difficult to follow the story. Things are further complicated when the author introduces some passages from the points-of-view of Dr Grayjoy and Mason. With all this switching of viewpoints, the timeline doesn't quite work on some occasions, with characters seemingly being in two places at once from one scene to the next. There are also some inconsistencies with the ward numbers changing from time to time. Warning: This book ends on a massive cliffhanger even though there is no indication that this book is the first in a series. I received this book in return for an honest review. Full blog post: https://booksdirectonline.blogspot.com/2016/04/the-requiem-red-by-brynn-chapman.html