by E. S. Thomson
Pub Date 07 Nov 2017
Dark Asylum is the second book in a series featuring Jem Flockhart and Will Quartermain. Jem is an apothecary. Will is an architect. The setting is Victorian London with its tenements full of poverty, crime and disease and a society that punishes those afflicted with a case of being from the lower classes of society. Although I had not read the first book in the series yet (Beloved Poison), I had no problems following the story and the characters. I had read about three chapters before I contacted my library and requested Beloved Poison. Any other books in the series will be requested as soon as they are available.
There were so many things I liked about Dark Asylum. The easiest way to communicate it is probably by bullet points:
* The setting was written very well. All the smells of Victorian London. The darkness, the smog, the tenements. It really created a believable atmosphere.
* The mental health aspect was very well researched. The way people have treated the mentally ill throughout history is diverse. Some cultures treated mentally ill people as though they had been touched by the divine. Then you have the Victorians. The belief that the mental illness was caused by a weakness or failing on the individual’s part and needed to be punished is just cruel. The book does a very good job of showing that mind set while also showing the few who began to realize that possibly humane treatment would do more good than strait jackets and locked cells.
* The characters were fantastic. Characters like Susan Chance did not reveal themselves to the reader all at once. What was revealed was a well rounded and complex character. All the characters were like that.
* Jem. Oh my goodness, Jem. Not having read the first book yet, I do not know Jem’s whole story. What I do know is that Jem is one of the most likeable, relatable and well written characters I have encounter. There is only so much I can say without spoilers. Read the book and you will see what I mean.
* The plot at it’s heart is a mystery. What a fun mystery it was. At one point, I was sure it was this character. I chapter later I changed my mind. A chapter later back to the original one. At the end, I was totally wrong. It is wonderful to be surprised by the solution to a mystery when that solution makes sense.
I was very surprised to find that there are not audio versions of Dark Asylum or the first book in the series. The publisher is missing a huge market by not releasing the books on audio also. Dark Asylum was a joy to read. It really was. I am looking forward to reading more from E. S. Thomson.