Author: Madeleine Roux
Series: Asylum, #1
Dan Crawford cannot wait to attend New Hampshire College Prep for their summer school program. Everything seems normal, until Dan and his classmates realize they’re being housed at Brookline, a former mental institute. When Dan and his new friends stumble upon an office which once belonged to Brookline’s former warden, they find strange memorabilia that speak of the asylum’s abhorrent past. Soon Dan starts having strange dreams and unexplained lapses in memory. Unable to resist his curiosity, Dan delves deeper into the institution’s history, where he discovers that Brookline’s past may hold answers to his own.
“It was wrong, all wrong. Dan was in the wrong place. There must have been some mistake. He didn’t deserve to be here. He wasn’t crazy, he wasn’t. So why was he chained to the wall?”
Madeleine Roux’s Aslyum has a variety of horror elements, but its storyline lacked cohesiveness. At times the novel felt like a predictable horror story in which I was either shaking my head at the characters’ decisions or correctly guessing what was going to happen next. The photographs included in this novel are real mementos from mental institutions which might have made the story more frightening if it delved deeper into the history of Brookline’s questionable practices instead of giving a rather shallow overview. I was really disappointed with the conclusion of the story, as it offered very little explanation for the events that occurred in the novel and did not explain important pieces like whether Dan’s lapse in memory were a result of the paranormal influence of Brookline or part of the psychological issues he has.
A creepy setting and strange mystery make the story interesting, but the characters lack depth and sometimes common sense. Dan’s past plays a key role in how he reacts to the strange incidents in Aslyum, but other than vague allusions, we are not given a full overview of his history. The mundane interaction between Dan and his two new friends Jordan and Abby could have been forgiven if they felt more real. Jordan was barely present and when he was, he came across as very rude and moody. Abby played the role of the protagonist’s crush, but didn’t have a significant role in the story. Every character frustrated me to some degree and I couldn’t figure out whether the author was trying to draw meaningful conclusions between Brookline and its three main characters or if they were meant to simply be coincidences. And since we aren’t given a full explanation, the novel felt largely incomplete.