Author: Susan Vaught (Twitter)
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children's
Publish Date: February 18, 2014
Genre: YA, Paranormal
Never, Kentucky is not your average scenic small town. It is a crossways, a place where the dead and the living can find no peace. Not that Forest, an 18-year-old foster kid who works the graveyard shift at Lincoln Hospital, knew this when she applied for the job. Lincoln is a huge state mental institution, a good place for Forest to make some money to pay for college. But along with hundreds of very unstable patients, it also has underground tunnels, bell towers that ring unexpectedly, and a closet that holds more than just donated clothing...When the dead husband of one of Forest's patients makes an appearance late one night, seemingly accompanied by an agent of the Devil, Forest loses all sense of reality and all sense of time. Terrified, she knows she has a part to play, and when she does so, she finds a heritage that she never expected.
Insanity fully embraces what its title implies, thrusting readers headlong into a world of mystery, ghosts, demons and more. Set within the dark, enclosed walls of a mental institution, the author embraces the cold world of horror and drama and brings it front and center, offering us a story that's a careful balance between terrifying and touching. Author, Susan Vaught, brought her considerable knowledge of mental institutions to light within the pages of the book, giving us a thrilling look into the minds and lives of three people directly affected by the world within Lincoln Hospital.
Having not read any reviews - or really seeing this book around at all - for that matter, I knew that it was the type of novel that, if done well, could reel me in in a heartbeat. Insanity did, at times, feel utterly insane. There was so much darkness, rage and powerfully dark magic within these pages. It was a perfectly atmospheric novel that developed well beyond its careful world-building to offer readers an almost claustrophobic feel, at times, which only served to bolster the horror elements of the story. It's been a long time since I can say I've read a true ghost story that embraces darkness in its most animalistic form, but this novel does it, and it does it well.
The world-building within Insanity is intricately constructed. Like a ball of string, we ever so slowly see it unravel and unwind until we're fully enmeshed in the plight of the characters within the walls of Lincoln Hospital. This careful construction of the story's backdrop makes the events within the novel more plausible and tangible, as well, giving them reason and meaning within the world the book offers. There are, however, elements to this story that might not be suitable for all audiences, as the novel heartily takes the horror route in stride. Certain events are explicitly detailed, giving us a true and honest approach to classic horror in its purest form. While not too gory for all readers, some of it is undeniably unsettling.
If there was a singular flaw within Insanity, I think it lies solely within the multiple perspectives of the novel. Much of the story was so delicately crafted, that it felt as though the different viewpoints almost cluttered the storyline. Rather than get to truly know and invest ourselves in Forest's plight, we're wrenched from her perspective to another without warning, and the transition wasn't always smooth. I enjoyed the innocence of her character, but I would have liked her even more had she been our sole perspective through the book. Nevertheless, through her eyes we get to see the chilling world of this mental institution come alive - and we even get a brief taste of romance, which lightens the heavy tone considerably.
Overall, though not perfect, I quite enjoyed this new take on horror for the younger lot. It reminded me a bit of Supernatural in terms of the paranormal elements, and you can never go wrong with that. I give this a strong 3.5 out of 5, and I recommend it to all fans of YA, especially those who enjoy mysteries, thrillers and horror stories.
I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.