Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher!
The lips had been darned closed with six long, black, stitches. Clumsily executed, they gave the face a crude deaths-head appearance, like a child's drawing scrawled upon a wall . . .
1851, Angel Meadow Asylum. Dr Rutherford, principal physician to the insane, is found dead, his head bashed in, his ears cut off, his lips and eyes stitched closed. The police direct their attention towards Angel Meadow's inmates, but to Jem Flockhart and Will Quartermain the crime is an act of calculated retribution, rather than of madness.
To discover the truth Jem and Will must pursue the story through the darkest corners of the city - from the depths of a notorious rookery, to the sordid rooms of London's brothels, the gallows, the graveyard, the convict fleet and then back to the asylum. In a world where guilt and innocence, crime and atonement, madness and reason, are bounded by hypocrisy, ambition and betrayal, Jem and Will soon find themselves caught up in a web of dark secrets and hidden identities.
I liiiiiiive for this series you guys! I wasn't sure when I read the first book, if it was just a one off, so I was so excited when I saw there was a sequel, and now it's a series and aaaahhh I'm so pleased! I'm sure you can tell that I loved the first book.
Thomson puts so much work in to her books. She does an amazing amount of research and manages to work it all in to the plot and the settings and the characters subtly. So you end up with an authentic and believable read that pulls you back in time, and you pick up all these little interesting facts as you read. I'm so genuinely fascinated by Jems job!
Now, in this book Jem and Will are at it again with their sleuthing and this time the backdrop is an asylum. In the first book, I didn't really know all that much about the medicine and doctors and so on. For this book, I had a bit more knowledge. Back when I was doing my acting classes, we did a piece set in a Victorian asylum and so I had to do a lot of research. I knew this was going to be a dark and grim read. Asylums weren't a great place to end up. But I still picked up so much information from reading that I didn't know. I feel like the asylum was a very creepy and mildly terrifying setting, considering how they treated patients and what they did to them....and the kind of rubbish you could be admitted for. They're genuinely mildly terrifying.
I'm going to straight up say that the main victim of this book, so the first one, totally had it coming and totally deserved it. Rutherford was an a-hole like...personally I feel like he was evil. I know it was the time and he was trying to work things out but....evil. *makes sign of the cross* I was sad to see a couple of characters go though!
I continue to love Jem as our main character, and I still find Jem very interesting. Jem's dealing with some feelings this book, and I'm intrigued to see how it will end up. I lowkey ship Jem and Will I'm not going to lie. I can't help it. I see ships everywhere. Plus I love how well Jem and Will work together and get on with each other. I love how Will always gets drawn in to the crime solving!
I love the different POV's, and the extracts from the journal. Those extracts provide information and intrigue, and they're a huge source of clues as you try to work out who the killer is, but I was fairly sure that the journal writer wasn't the actual killer...but I did change my mind about fifty times as I was reading! Like...it's totally the killer...okay no it's not the killer...okay yes it is....no it's not...and so on.
The thing I love most about this book, and the previous one, is that they keep you guessing right up until the end. There are so many clues that you're trying to put together, and make sense of, and you have so many suspects that you slowly narrow down and you change your mind so many times. Or at least I did! I just love how well Thomson writes her mysteries! I usually end up groaning like "noooo what did I miss?!" and then I go back and re-read little bits and I'm like "aaaahhh I'm so stupid!". It's brilliant. There's also a heartbreaking story in this book, and I'd like to think it wasn't a common story but I doubt it. I just enjoy how Thomson gives the characters both main and secondary, brilliantly crafted backgrounds and life stories.
Dark Asylum is a fantastic sequel, every bit as atmospheric and dark as the first. There's twists, and turns and surprises, and it's such a richly authentic read it's easy to get sucked in to the book. I love how Thomsons research is woven throughout the entire book, present in everything, even the littlest detail. I always find out so much that I didn't previously know. Dark Asylum once again keeps you guessing right up until the end, and I'm so excited for the third book as there's a rather interesting tidbit in the authors Q & A at the back of the book so check it out!