A deliciously spooky pastiche of the high and low Gothic traditions and the tender heroines who live and die by them.
Marilyn Stasio, New York Times Book Review
Harwood has not only a successful career as a literary scholar behind him, but also an impeccable literary pedigree as the son of Australian poet Gwen Harwood. He's ideally equipped by both nature and nurture to produce the vivid, imaginative, well-structured and well-informed novels that are quietly building his reputation.
Kerryn Goldsworthy, The Sydney Morning Herald
Readers are guaranteed a thoroughly diverting time in Harwood’s not-to-be-trusted hands. The creaking apparatus of the Victorian novel of suspense is given an energetic shaking-up. We are perhaps not quite as ready to be led up the garden path as the Victorians. But the fact that Harwood trots us up and down that path in a dizzying dance – and that we love every minute of it – proves his casual command of this shamelessly enjoyable idiom.
Barry Forshaw, The Independent
A twisting tale of greed, deceit and betrayal.
Fran Metcalf, The Daily Telegraph
In The Asylum, the latest dark suspense novel from John Harwood, the author manages to walk a fine line between Gothic romance and contemporary psychological thriller. Or rather, he gambols gleefully along it, delighting his reader with familiar Gothic tropes while deftly interrogating his protagonist's own sense of her self. The Asylum is as dark and suspenseful as any good Gothic romance. John Harwood, masterfully toying with readers' expectations, engrosses them in its mystery and gives satisfaction at pretty much every turn.
Benjamin Chandler, Australian Book Review
The book is a psychological puzzle rather than story of detection, and the heroine's literal and figurative search for self offers the haunting pleasures of a Victorian novel of sensation as well as a rich modern meditation on identity.
Suzanne Fox, Publishers Weekly
Harwood has a talent amounting to genius for channelling the spirit of 19th-century sensation fiction. It’s all here: maverick science, threats to personal identity, missing wills, lost heirs, illegitimate children and a pervasive sense of unease, of threats half-seen. The prose is an unusually good Victorian pastiche, a rare pleasure in the Gothic genre.
Andrew Taylor, The Spectator
In this suspenseful gothic thriller set in late Victorian England, John Harwood has clearly had fun with the genre while creating a compelling page-turner with enough plot twists and turns to keep you reading into the night. Skilfully told from the viewpoints of the main female characters via a combination of first-person narrative, a journal and letters, this is a novel about love, greed, madness and memory, and about women and their options - or lack of them. I couldn't tear myself away from this book, and its mysteries.
Paula Grunseit, Australian Bookseller + Publisher
Comparisons have been drawn between Harwood's work and that of Wilkie Collins, Emily Bronte and Mary Shelley. It is a big compliment, but certainly deserved. He does use an element somewhat foreign to Victorian works - a thread of erotic scenes - but they fit in seamlessly. Harwood is able to maintain suspense throughout The Asylum.
Anya Whitelaw, Western Advocate, Bathurst
Barbara Farrelly, South Coast Register
June 2, 2014
June 3, 2013
June 3, 2013
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