Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Asylum Lake

Asylum Lake
Author R.A. Evans

The state’s second largest psychopathic hospital opened in 1917 on 600 wooded acres overlooking a small lake near Bedlam Falls, Michigan. Through its doors came the weak and the weary, the disabled and the discarded, the frail and the forgotten. But an open door is an invitation, and some visitors, once invited, are loath to leave. The hospital abruptly closed in 1958 under a cloud of mystery. It has remained empty and silent, save for the memories trapped both within its walls and far below the surface of the nearby lake that bears its name. At the bottom of Asylum Lake, the unremembered are growing restless. 

Brady Tanner is trying to outrun memories of his own. After the sudden death of his wife, Brady retreats to the small town where he spent the summers of his youth. But he soon learns small towns can be stained by memories…and secrets, too. As Brady is drawn into unearthing these secrets, as he discovers a new love in an old friend, he is also drawn into the mystery of Asylum Lake and the evil that lies submerged beneath its sparkling surface. What is the source of this evil – and what does it want with Brady Tanner?

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Review:  In the spirit of full disclosure, I must confess I was originally drawn to this book for two reasons: it is set in Michigan, the place where I born and grew up and it's horror.  Little did I know, I'd discover another connection, that to Seattle, where I now reside.  If this wasn't enough to give me a shiver, the story of Asylum Lake certainly was!  Beware, you might not want to read right before turning off the lights and going to bed. Too scary?  Not for me!  This is exactly the kind of mysterious paranormal horror I love to read.  The characters attract tragedy and death.  At first, they seem like a very unfortunate lineage, but as this mysterious thriller unfolds you will be enlightened to the purpose behind the events.  For those from the 'mitt' you will like the authentic setting and subtle humor.  I had to chuckle at the Up North House.  Any true Michigander goes up north for vacation because south would lead to Chicago.  I can not think of a better setting for this tale to take place than on a secluded lake in northern Michigan, whether it is on a hot, muggy summer night or a cool, breezy fall day, viewing an abandoned state asylum would be enough to scare even the toughest Mid-Westerner.  

Another interesting aspect, and I'm certain this is the case with many small towns, is our fascination with old crime stories.  I appreciate how influential cases are sited by the author (whether they are real or not) and work to draw a connection from past to present.  This grounds the paranormal making it believable, which in my opinion is a key element to escalating the horror level.  Getting a reader to imagine that an event truly could or did happen is essential.  Old crimes and cases don't die in places like Bedlam Falls.  One thing you can count on is people will certainly remember what happened but might forget the details.  By making use of this human tendency, Evans creates a creepy mystery. Circumstances similar to the one surrounding the characters of Asylum Lake become legends in towns like Bedlam. Stories permanently attach to the land, they seep in and hibernate until the next thaw.  Brady brings the thaw, but why and how? Well, I'm not going to give that away! I can't wait to read the next book and learn more about what happened to Lionel and Dr. Clovis!  
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  1. Thank you for the amazing review! I encourage everyone to join the discussion on Goodreads and take advantage of free shipping through the end of January.

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