Asylum by Madeleine Roux & Ghost Story by Peter Straub
This continuously caught my eye when I worked at Barnes & Noble. I am a huge horror fan, movies, books, haunted houses, you name it. (Minus those freaky kidnapping things where you can pay to have someone “kidnap” you, that’s a bit too much) So I put it on my list! Who can resist a good creepy book?
Well, maybe I’m just so desensitized to horror, because I didn’t really find the book that creepy, but I still enjoyed it as an easy read. The story follows Dan, who is attending a summer school-type camp at a school that was once an asylum for the criminally insane. The first day when Dan meets Abby, the cliched manic-pixie dream girl type, and Jordan the token side-kick character who is super sassy; the trio decides to break into the closed off old office of the previous asylum to see what they can find. Snooping around in there, they find more than they bargained for, and as time goes on and they research the old asylum more and more, they find out that they too might have strange ties to the old place.
The story has a good amount of small twists, although I did see a lot of things coming. I enjoy horror stories where there is a history behind a location that makes it “haunted”. That’s one of the reasons I love urban exploration and staring at abandoned buildings, I love thinking about what the past of a location was. If you are sensitive to scary things, then you might find this creepy, but if you are a horror veteran like myself, it’s more of a fun, kinda spooky read, like going through a mild haunted house at an amusement park.
Taking the creepy note and cranking it up a few notches we have our second book. I loved this book. The story is very drawn out, you are left wondering what on earth in happening in this small quaint town. You are peeling back layer after layer, constantly questioning what is being hidden from you as you read. The story jumps back and forth between the current and the past, explaining up until the climax, which all takes place in the present time.
We follow a group of rich old men, lawyers, etc. that meet every so often at someone’s house for their Chowder Society gathering. They dress up in their finest, no wives allowed, and smoke cigars while one man (A different one every time) shares a “ghost story” from their past. Although, things become tense in the group as they try to forget the events of the fateful night where one of their friends died during a party. They are haunted by this night. Haunted might even be too nice of a word for it. Terrorized is more on point. The nightmares are realistic, enough to cause trauma in their day to day lives. They no longer feel safe, even in their own houses.
The men, even if they are well past their prime, they realize that if they don’t figure out what is haunting them, they won’t make it through the winter. They can’t ignore the past any longer. They can’t avoid telling the one “ghost story” that none of them have wanted to relive.
The characters are deep, interesting, and dynamic. There are so many twists and turns! I wished I would have read it closer to Halloween though! It has some creepy, spine tingling moments through it, and is unsettling in it’s terror. I never read a book by Peter Straub before, but it was recommended to me by my friend at Starbucks back in Pittsburgh who was an avid reader and horror fan as well. I put off reading it forever and I’m slapping myself for it! It’s a great read, perfect as Halloween and fall approaches. Although, it’s also the perfect read for winter, when everything is covered in snow, or even better, if it’s a snowy or blizzard!