Author: Craig Russell
Publisher: Doubleday Books
Publication date: March 3, 2019
In 1935, Viktor Kosárek, a psychiatrist newly trained by Carl Jung, arrives at the infamous Hrad Orlu Asylum for the Criminally Insane. The state-of-the-art facility is located in a medieval mountaintop castle outside of Prague, though the site is infamous for concealing dark secrets going back many generations. The asylum houses the country’s six most treacherous killers–known to the staff as The Woodcutter, The Clown, The Glass Collector, The Vegetarian, The Sciomancer, and The Demon–and Viktor hopes to use a new medical technique to prove that these patients share a common archetype of evil, a phenomenon known as The Devil Aspect. As he begins to learn the stunning secrets of these patients, five men and one woman, Viktor must face the disturbing possibility that these six may share another dark truth.
I loved first the sophisticated, polished writing style and even though I sort of guessed who the murderer was, I enjoyed the sleight-of-hand it took to get me to the reveal. Though it’s set in 1935 and the beginning of the rise of Nazism, the story has a decidedly Gothic feel—the old castle containing both an ancient and modern evil, the superstitious villagers, and the heroine with her dark, prophetic dreams. The parallel murder investigation going on in Prague is just as compelling as the interviews with the six murderers and how the author reconciles the two is fantastic. The Eastern European folklore aspect, and the references to Jung, deepen the story and balance out the more gruesome aspects.
Perhaps because the writing is so visual is why I also think this would make an excellent movie.
I enjoyed this book so much, I wish I could give it ten stars!
Thank you Net Galley and Doubleday Books!