Book Reviews

{Review} INSIDE THE ASYLUM (A Kathy Ryan novel), by Mary SanGiovanni

Published by Lyrical Underground Genres: Cosmic Horror, Creature Feature, Crime/Serial Killer, Dark Fantasy, Dark Fiction, Fiction, Horror, Occult & Supernatural, Paranormal, Sci-Fi, Supernatural, Suspense, Thrillers & Suspense, Women Sleuths
Format: eBook

From “master of cosmic horror” (Library Journal) Mary SanGiovanni, comes the latest terrifying novel featuring occult specialist Kathy Ryan . . .

A mind is a terrible thing to destroy . . .

Kathy has been hired to assess the threat of patient Henry Banks, an inmate at the 
Connecticut-Newlyn Hospital for the Criminally Insane, the same hospital where her brother is housed. Her employers believe that Henry has the ability to open doors to other dimensions with his mind—making him one of the most dangerous men in modern history. Because unbeknownst to Kathy, her clients are affiliated with certain government organizations that investigate people like Henry—and the potential to weaponize such abilities.

What Kathy comes to understand in interviewing Henry, and in her unavoidable run-ins with her brother, is that Henry can indeed use his mind to create “Tulpas”—worlds, people, and creatures so vivid they come to actual life. But now they want life outside of Henry. And they’ll stop at nothing to complete their emancipation. It’s up to Kathy—with her brother’s help—to stop them, and if possible, to save Henry before the Tulpas take him over—and everything else around him.

4 Stars.

Buy on Amazon.

Horror After Dark Review

INSIDE THE ASYLUM (A Kathy Ryan novel), by Mary SanGiovanni, is the third book I have read that features her recurring character, Kathy Ryan, a paranormal expert. This novel gives us more insight into Kathy’s personal life than we have ever glimpsed before. Her no-nonsense, professional detachment isn’t quite the same here, as the location she is called to–an Asylum for the criminally insane and dangerous–is also home to her older brother, Toby . . . 

“. . . the residents of Connecticut-Newly were dangerous . . . “ 

A man named Henry Banks had been there since waking up from a coma–a coma he’d been in ever since a gang of kids were found murdered in his basement.

“. . . it wasn’t like he’d come back from the dead. He’d just come back from . . . somewhere else.” 

The thing was, he brought some friends along with him.

Friends that he claimed committed those murders, to keep him safe.

Unfortunately, at the time of his trial, nobody could actually “see” these friends of his . . . 

Since his awakening and incarceration at the Asylum, inexplicable things had been happening there–the kind of things that Kathy’s bosses called her in for.

“. . . He’d learned not to try to look outside at night. Shadows had shape . . . and moved in deliberate and predatory ways that shadows shouldn’t . . . “ 

I really enjoyed the paranormal aspect of this story, although admittedly, I did find it a little confusing when it came to some of the heavier cult-like terms and theories.

“. . . To protect against a monster, one had to know the monster . . . “ 

Kathy’s brother, who seemed to have even more knowledge than Kathy, herself, about this particular case, was a fantastic addition. His own past–especially the parts he spent with his sister–were really intriguing. They helped give another glimpse into the past that led our main character into her “unique” vocation.

“. . . Delusions, by their very definition, weren’t really there. Henry’s friends, on the other hand, most certainly seemed to be.” 

The Asylum–well, really any Asylum–is a setting that would be impossible NOT to find chilling even in the most innocent of stories. Taking it further with one housing the criminally insane is a sure win for a supernatural horror book. However, the humans are only a part of this particular danger, as fans of the author’s previous Kathy Ryan novels will expect.

“. . . They’re undoing reality out there . . . “ 

If you are new to this character and her job vocation, you don’t have to worry about missing any crucial information from other novels. Each is a complete stand-alone, with very little “known” about her as an actual “person” beyond her area of expertise.

Overall, I found this to be a very exciting paranormal novel that touched upon subjects that were new to me. While the occult explanations were occasionally a little too much for me to follow easily, the fast-pace, action, gore, atmosphere, and supporting characters, all combined to make this an entertaining and memorable book. I felt that this installment went into much more detail about Kathy Ryan’s personal life and childhood, shedding some very interesting light on events that may have had a factor in setting her on this career path. While I loved the parts we learn abut there, it was executed in such a way that it left me eagerly waiting to learn more. This is a fantastic achievement for an author using a recurring character.

“. . . It’s a matter of survival. All living things just want to keep living.” 

INSIDE THE ASYLUM is now one of my favorite books by author Mary SanGiovanni yet.

Highly recommended!

About The Author

About Mary SanGiovanni

Mary SanGiovanni is the author of a number of novels including THE HOLLOWER TRIOLOGY (the first book of which was nominated for the Bram Stoker Award), THRALL, and CHAOS, and the novellas FOR EMMY, THE FADING PLACE, and POSSESSING AMY. Her short fiction has appeared in periodicals and anthologies for the last decade. She has a Masters degree in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University, Pittsburgh. She is currently a member of The Authors Guild, The International Thriller Writers, and Penn Writers, and was previously an Active member in the Horror Writers Association and the Garden State Horror Writers. She lives in New Jersey with her son and her cat.


I am an avid reader/reviewer and collector of books--primarily horror, supernatural, and supernatural-themed thrillers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *