Dan Crawford is a 16 year-old who heads to a New Hampshire College Prep program. When he arrives, he learns that the summer housing is closed, and students are staying in the ramshackle Brookline Dorm, which happens to be a former psychiatric hospital. Shortly after arriving, Dan starts seeing some weird things. With his new friends, Abby – whose aunt was once a patient at Brookline – and Jordan, he starts trying to explore and learn more about Brookline’s secrets, but there are some things he probably shouldn’t look into.
I loved Asylum. Loaded with creepy photographs that enhance the hair-raising mood of the book, the old haunted mental hospital story never fails here. There is solid character development, and some unexpected twists that will keep you riveted to the book until you finish. For anyone who loves a good, creepy haunting story, this is your book. Fans of the Miss Peregrine series will enjoy this series – you’ve got the past interacting with the present and the photographs to enhance the mood, with a twist of horror.
The story continues in Sanctum, which picks up shortly after the events of Asylum. Dan, Abby, and Jordan are all back home and still in touch, each coping with the events that took place in Asylum. Each of the teens receives odd messages that send them back to Brookline for more answers. They arrive under the guise of prospective students for an open-house weekend, where they meet Micah and Cal, two student hosts. This time around, we delve into secret societies and ghostly messages that send the teens on a hunt for answers around the town and at a creepy, old-time carnival taking place over the weekend.
Sanctum had a bit of sophomore slump for me. We got a little bit away from the ghost story and delved more into secret societies, mind-altering drugs and brainwashing, and cult violence. It was still a good story with some bits of horror present throughout, but parts of the book fell flat for me and I found myself really getting annoyed with Dan, who enters Harry Potter/Order of the Phoenix levels of self-centeredness.
There are still fantastically creepy photos, this time of Brookline and a creepy carnival, so that alone is worth the price of admission if you’re an old-timey horror fan like I am. Abandoned buildings, haunted houses, creepy circus stuff – I’m here for all of it.
The third volume in the Asylum series, Catacomb, hits stores on September 1st. Review coming shortly!
Asylum, by Madeleine Roux
Sanctum by Madeleine Roux
Recommended for ages 12+