I really didn't see the twists and turns in this book, and I have to say, I wasn't really expecting any; more a dull, period read involving a lunatic asylum - I couldn't have been any more wrong! This was a very well-written debut centred around what might happen if someone was falsely locked up, by someone they trusted no less, in a mental asylum in Victorian times, with just enough detail to effectively describe the horrors of the asylum, but not too much so that it got boring; the 'flashback' chapters tease the reader as to what might have led to Louisa's false incarceration, provided a nice change from the scenes at Wildthorn Hall, without which, I feel that the novel may, perhaps, have gotten boring.
I got pretty addicted to this book, barely able to pit it down as I was eager to find out who – and why – exactly had condemned Louisa at Wildthorn, and was refusing to let her out. I wasn’t expecting myself to, but I found that I really felt for Louisa and her situation and I certainly put the book down with more of an awareness as to what actually went on in mental asylums in Victorian times, but also in other time periods; I get the feeling that a heck of a lot of research went into this book, and it truly shows through – in a good way!
In the beginning, I really wasn’t too keen on the present tense that the book in written in, and thought I wouldn’t be able to get anywhere through the book because it would be annoying me too much, but I soon accepted it and found it eventually aided the book as it helped me to picture the scenes more vividly, as though I were there. Another thing I didn’t – and still don’t, actually – like is the tagline – “Treachery locks her away. Love is the key”. The first part isn’t too bad, but the last bit is awful (even the publishers seem to agree as it varies from "is the key" to "will be the key" to "may be the key"!), though it might appeal to romance fans who will soon discover it is not that kind of book, though it might just be me!
From the first few flashbacks, I made the automatic judgement that Tom, Louisa’s brother, was pretty much evil and that the mother was far too stifling, but you eventually learn a few of their reasons for being so, though my judgement remains virtually unchanged. The ending wrapped a lot of things up, but still left a few tantalising details, like what had happened to one of the residents, unanswered, though I would be horrified if there was a sequel announced as there is literally no need – the unanswered titbits serve to let your imagination run wild.
A surprising, satisfying novel, which leaves me immensely glad that I have the author’s other novel – Whisper My Name – which has just moved to the top of my To Be Read pile.
[SYNOPSIS: Seventeen-year-old Louisa Cosgrove longs to break free from her respectable life as a Victorian doctor's daughter. But her dreams become a nightmare when Louisa is sent to Wildthorn Hall: labelled a lunatic, deprived of her liberty and even her real name. As she unravels the betrayals that led to her incarceration, she realizes there are many kinds of prison. She must be honest with herself - and others - in order to be set free. And love may be the key . . .]