It’s Ellen Crosby’s first day at work as a student nurse at Fairhaven County Lunatic Asylum. When she meets Amy Sullivan, a young woman committed for allegedly attempting to drown herself and her stepsister, and Dr Stephen Lambourn, a pioneering physician keen to try out the various ‘cures’ available for mental illness, little does Ellen know that a choice she will make is to change all their lives irrevocably…
Under the cover of darkness, a young woman, Kate, picks her way through the brambles to the abandoned Fairhaven Asylum. A vast building with over six miles of corridors, the asylum still houses the metal-framed beds, rusty instruments and infamous padded cells used before it closed its doors for the last time. In an old wardrobe, Kate discovers a suitcase belonging to a female patient who was admitted to the asylum in 1956. The shocking contents of the suitcase lead Kate to unravel a forgotten story of tragedy, lost love and an old wrong that only Kate may have the power to put right.
What did I think of The Key?
Here is my three-word summary – ALL-THE-FEELS! Not my usual book of choice but I like to break away from my horror genre addiction from time to time if I find a well-crafted fiction that has an ability to grab me emotionally, and this certainly did.
The fact that the book is set in an old asylum should give it a creepy feeling but for me, this backdrop combined with Hughes’ extremely realistic characters and the articulation of institutions from the ’50s makes it clear she has done her research well and made this a very poignant read. I felt the suffering and Dr. Lambourn was one of those characters I loved to hate (whether I was meant to or not).
In my view, the key is a mystery with a historical fiction twist brought to live by the dual timeline that switches between present day and 1956. The book is well worth reading and unless you have a heart of stone you will absolutely need a few kleenex!
The key is available now as an e-book. Get your copy here.
Kathryn Hughes – author bio
Kathryn Hughes was born in Altrincham, near Manchester. After completing a secretarial course, Kathryn met her husband and they married in Canada. For twenty-nine years they ran a business together, raised two children and traveled when they could to places such as India, Singapore, South Africa and New Zealand. Kathryn and her family now make their home in a village near Manchester. The Letter, Kathryn’s first novel, was a digital #1 and international bestseller, and her second novel The Secret has been highly acclaimed. The Key is Kathryn Hughes’ third novel.