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Saturday, November 20, 2021

There's Lots to Love in Gothic-y Series Opener

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Growing up in a New York City orphanage has given scrappy Amelia Matthew the pluck to survive in a rough time and place. Combining moxie with a modicum of psychic talent, she manages to earn enough to create a decent life for herself and her beloved foster brother, Jonas. When a knock on the head changes Amelia's mild ability into something far more powerful, she's shocked. As she grapples to understand her newfound skills, a strange vision in a public park assaults her. The next thing she knows, she's waking up in a city insane asylum on isolated Blackwell's Island. Despite her protests, Amelia is unable to leave. Even Jonas can't find a way to free her. 

In spite of himself, Andrew Cavanaugh, a young doctor from Philadelphia, finds himself quite taken with the pretty new patient. Naturally, he doesn't believe her when she claims to see spirits—until she proves it to him. As Andrew works to release Amelia from care, he's approached by a desperate mother searching for the daughter she believes is being hidden in the asylum. With Amelia's help, he looks into the case, uncovering a shocking trail of corruption and cruelty at his workplace. Powerful people rule the asylum. What can a lowly doctor and his imprisoned patient possibly do for their helpless victims? Especially when Amelia's dubious gift is still so uncontrollable and she's not entirely sure she doesn't belong on Blackwell's Island herself...

There are so many things to love about A Deadly Fortune, a debut novel by Stacie Murphy, that I'm not even sure where to start. How about with its unique setting? Lots of novels are set in insane asylums, but this is the first I've encountered that takes place in the notorious facility on Blackwell's Island. Atmospheric and Gothic-y, the locale makes a perfect backdrop for this shivery tale. The characters are also appealing. Amelia, Jonas, and Andrew are all sympathetic, kind-hearted, and courageous. Plot-wise, A Deadly Fortune is a gripping story. It does start off slowly, but there's enough going on to keep it interesting while it builds to a pulse-pounding climax. As for the supernatural aspect of this novel, it's nicely balanced. There's enough of the ghostly to satisfy without overwhelming the story. I also appreciate the book's (mostly) clean content, making it a novel I'd be comfortable handing to almost anyone. For all these reasons and more, I very much enjoyed this series opener. Needless to say, I can't wait to see what happens next to Amelia and her friends.


Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for brief, mild language (1 F-bomb, plus milder expletives), violence, mild sexual content, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love: Another library fine find

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Reading

<i>Reading</i>
Tress of the Emerald Sea by Brandon Sanderson

Listening

<i>Listening</i>
The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain



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