John Harwood is, in my opinion, a modern master of Victorian Gothic suspense. His previous titles, The Ghost Writer and The Séance both captured the essence of Victorian life while raising definite prickles on my spine. In his latest, The Asylum¸ he does it again.
Georgina Ferrars awakes to find herself in a private mental hospital with no memory of how she came to be there. According to Dr. Straker, the head of the asylum, she signed herself in under the name Lucy Ashton, and then collapsed into unconsciousness. She clearly recalls her life as Georgina, even to the details of her childhood, but has no memory of the past three weeks. Matters are complicated by the discovery that “Georgina Ferrars” is apparently hale and hearty and currently living under her uncle’s roof in London.
Georgina/Lucy now finds herself involuntarily confined, trying to work out whom she truly is, and why her life has been stolen from her.