I enjoyed this book. The main character, Abbey, is involved in Urban Exploration as a hobby. More than a hobby actually; it is a passion. Abbey got into Urban Exploration through her grandmother. She is accompanied on her adventures is her friend Luke.
The book spans two different time periods, World War II and the present. Ms. Anderson does a wonderful job of creating a parallel between World War II and the war in the mind of a mentally ill person. The mood setting in both time periods is great. For example, one phrase really illustrates the panic and claustrophobia of the time, “Trapped in a basement with a group of mental patients while bombs rained down aboveground”.
The story that takes place during World War II is about a young woman named Isabella. She is committed by her father when she is twenty-five years old. She suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, possibly inherited from her mother. It ties to the modern story when Abbey finds Isabella’s records during an exploration of Westwood Asylum for the Insane which has been abandoned for decades. What catches Abbey’s attention is that Isabella’s records stop very suddenly. As Abbey and her exploration partner Luke continue their exploration of the Asylum and investigation into Isabella’s history, Isabella emerges, moving through a layer separating this plane from the next.
The book is well researched. In chapter six, there is a discussion of Walter Freeman that is fascinating and one of the most horrifying things I have ever read. That paragraph is equal to anything Stephen King has ever gotten me with. There are no words implying horror, no monsters jumping at you, no specific words that do it but arranging into those sentences in that paragraph is one of the most terrifying and unforgettable images I have ever encountered. And the author just slips it in there. No warning. Genius, just glorious genius. Thinking about it still gives me the creeps months later.
As I states earlier, Ms. Anderson has a wonderful gift in setting the mood. When talking about the morgue in the asylum she describes it as “the morgue, alongside the physically dead, not just the psychologically dead.”, evokes an emotion, a sense of dread, a feeling of those poor souls trapped in their own minds and in the asylum.
I previously enjoyed Ms. Anderson’s Hospital Hill. I am looking forward to reviewing more of her work.