Friday night I bowed to deadlines and picked up Lisa Carey’s new book, Love in the Asylum. I was reluctant. I loved her first two books, so much so that I tend to push them on unsuspecting friends at every opportunity. This one wasn’t enticing me. The cover art and blurb suck (and turned out to be totally inappropriate besides). But I’d agreed to review the book for HarperCollins, and the deadline fast approacheth, and so.
The story is about a junkie and a formerly suicidal manic depressive who meet in an asylum. In the library there, the woman finds unmailed letters from a patient in the 1930s that (unsurprisingly, to those familiar with Carey’s style) turn out to be relevant to our heroes.
I loved it. Substance abuse and mental disorders are emphatically not my favorite subjects to read about, ranking right there with child abuse and multiple amputations (and just about every other subject covered in The Butterfly Effect). I couldn’t put this down. It helped that the backstory involves one of my pet subjects: Mary, the author of the letters, uses her dreams to change things in her waking life. But I was entranced with Alba and Oscar, too, and I thought their ending was absolutely perfect.
Carey’s style (as I mentioned above) is to have two stories going on at once, one at some sufficiently distant point in history and one in the present, that eventually intertwine. It’s a nifty trick, and she does it beautifully. This is the third time she’s used it, though, and I hope she tries something a little different next time.