Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (US: 10th April 2012)
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I’m not much for historicals, unless they have asylums – and this one does. Author Kathy Hepinstall is another tick in Blue Asylum‘s favour.
Convicted of madness or hysteria, plantation owner’s wife Iris Dunleavy is sent to Sanibel Asylum, on an island off the coast of mainland USA. Her presence quickly impacts the residents; including Confederate soldier Ambrose Weller, as well as the asylum’s doctor and his son.
The events that led Iris and Ambrose to Sanibel are revealed piece by piece with a deft hand that saves the final details for the very end. But perhaps the most fascinating character is young Wendell Cowell, who fears his sins have cursed him, until he is reborn. Would’ve liked to learn more about Lydia, and why she came to swallow objects.
Kathy Hepinstall is a master of Southern gothic, and Blue Asylum is another winner. No word on what or when the author’s next novel will be, but I’d love to know.