by Brynn Chapman
Release Date: April 5th 2016
Rate: 4.5 stars
Will she be next?
The world woven with words into the fabric of this story is living, breathing, and intoxicating. Chapman undoubtedly did tiresome amounts of research and the efforts paid off handsomely in the form of a compelling narrative rich with accurately portrayed details. So often historical fiction tells rather than shows, but here I was immersed in the time and location, not told where I was. I felt what the girls felt. I saw what the men saw. For example, the following passage chilled me with it’s eerily accurate depiction of true despair, and what it is to live life never really knowing what it means to be happy:
“Tonight, I will relish this joy–memorize it, and thrust it out as a shield against the melancholy, when it comes. And it will. I am not so foolish to think it has abandoned me at the first sign of light in my life. The melancholy will scatter like spiders in the light, waiting in the shadows for my joy to dim. To return.”
1894, SOOTHING HILLS SANATORIUM
PHILADELPHIA, COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
“Jane! Jane, where are you? There has been an accident!”
Nurse Sally’s tremulous voice echoes down the sanatorium’s hallway, ricocheting off the walls like mad bats in flight. I close my eyes, press my lips tight, and keep silent.
I flinch at the use of my patient number and slide from the hidden window seat, snapping my book closed to bound down the corridor. The nurse’s cry came from the direction of my room.
“Twenty-niiiine … ” a male, sing-song voice calls out through the bars. I swerve and dart out of his way, narrowly missing those yellowed, grasping fingernails. My heartbeat doubles as I spin and run faster.
What has she done now?
My roommate Lily is truly disturbed. I spend most of my time out of the room, out of her way, because of her howling, because of her—
I round the corner and skid to a halt, instantaneously shaking.
Lily’s long blond hair spreads out on her cot like a coquette’s fan. Her eyes are closed. Her chest appears … still.
“Jane, go for help. Now. Run to Ward 4 and fetch Dr. Grayjoy!”
I stand staring, blood frozen in my veins, feet frozen to the floor. Lily’s head gives a violent jerk, and I gasp.
“For the love of heaven, now, you imbecile!”
I run. But not before I see the wall. Not before I see the message scrawled above her bed.
Help me. I know not what I do.
She also writes under the pseudonym R.R. Smythe.