Feature Shadow in Asylum

Scary Halloween Book a Uniquely Creepy Read

Shadows in the AsylumI didn’t go looking for a scary Halloween book this year. It found me. I was rummaging through a stack of  AdventureKEEN titles, and I came across an unfamiliar one: Shadows in the Asylum  by D.A. Stern. I’ve written ghost stories in the past, and I like a good horror story as much as the next person. I was pleasantly surprised by this one, to say the least. In fact, over the next several days, I brought it with me wherever I went, squeezing in a page or two whenever I had a moment to spare.

This is not your typical novel; it’s not a series of chapters or paragraph after paragraph of narrative. It’s a scary Halloween book with imagination to spare! Here, the book cover looks like a folder, and the pages within appear as “The Case Files of Dr. Charles Marsh:” a collection of newspaper articles, emails, interview transcripts, and Dr. Marsh’s personal notes. Of course, every document on every page serves as a clue, which the reader must slowly piece together as this horror story unfolds.

When the book begins, we learn that a college-aged woman named Kari Hansen had a nervous breakdown while on an anthropological dig in Wisconsin’s Apostle Islands. She is admitted into Kriegmoor Psychiatric Institute in Bayfield, where she’s put under the care of Dr. Marsh, an experienced psychiatrist who’s new to the area (and the star of this scary Halloween book).

Questions begin to arise about the doctor, his methods, and secrets from his past. At the same time, Kari seems to be living her own horror story, as she complains of malevolent shadows that only she can see—shadows that torture her, physically and emotionally, every single night. Soon, other patients at Kriegmoor begin to share Kari’s symptoms and her wounds, leaving readers to wonder whether these shadows might be real or if the doctor himself is descending into madness.

scary Halloween bookThis scary Halloween book is intended to feel like a “found footage” film, a format made famous by such movies as The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity. That is, the story is intended to seem as if it really happened and the audience has stumbled upon the evidence left behind. Perhaps the approach isn’t surprising, given that author D.A. Stern penned the best-selling horror story The Blair Witch Project: A Dossier.

If you like a creepy book with a lot of imagination, Shadows in the Asylum is a blend of chills and mystery. It’s an addictive puzzle that comes together at a perfect pace, and the picture doesn’t reveal itself until the very end.

Ryan Jacobson

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