Thursday, October 23, 2014

Tragedy Marks the Past and Present in "Asylum"

This fall I've been plugging along through an assortment of novels in my TBR pile, hoping to finish before the Christmas season is in full swing.  The offering I have for you today is an interesting mix of mystery, history, and intrigue that I found to be an engaging read spanning the tail end of the 1800's into the 1970's.

So let's get right to it and delve into Kathryn Orzech's novel Asylum.

Book Blurb:
Some secrets are best kept hidden, their proof allowed to burn. Some doors are meant to remain closed. But when a young girl's curiosity becomes irresistible, the consequence can turn deadly, too fast—or smolder for generations. ASYLUM takes the reader on a wild ride between creepy and fun, weaving between a granddaughter's struggle to learn long held secrets and a grandmother as a young girl living the drama as it happens …

On an innocent day in 1899 with her father abroad, twelve-year-old Maggie Delito accidentally discovers a scandal so shameful and shocking it will forever haunt her life. The next day she’s locked in an asylum.

Secrets remain hidden for seventy five years until Laura Delito inherits ancestral assets, and her family’s mysterious past comes knocking. After sacrificing an independent career at the brink of success, she assumes control of Delito’s failing jewelry business while dealing with its ghosts. A strange old woman. Back-room betrayals. Cryptic messages. And a rare antique key that might unlock the truth, if only she could find it. As she pursues clues from Hartford and Providence to Italy and Morocco, she doesn’t see a lethal danger looming in an office down the hall.

My Review:
Margaret Rosa Delito reigns supreme over Delito, Inc, a family jewelry business that has spanned generations.  But lately the company has hemorrhaged cash at an alarming rate to the point where the business is facing collapse.  Before Margaret can discover the culprit or bring her beloved granddaughter in on the crisis, tragedy strikes.

Laura Delito feels like the proverbial fifth wheel when it comes to the family business.  After her father died when she was young and her mother remarried, Laura became the de facto heir apparent to a multimillion dollar business and family estate.  But until her grandmother's death, no one in the company took her or her designs seriously, neither her stepfather nor her boyfriend who together wield tight control in order to maintain their secret.  With the company's future on the line, Laura is left little time to grieve - especially after a strange, elderly woman shows up at her grandmother's funeral with the hint of a story and an ancient key holding a secret message.  But what the key opens no one knows - except one who will stop at nothing to ensure she never finds out.

Wonderful little mystery here, and I found it to be the perfect length at approximately 279 pages.  We open with the 1970's, what I will refer to here as the present day, and follow along with the events of the initial stages of the mysterious secret and into Laura's induction as owner and CEO of Delito, Inc.  As the story gets underway and we follow Laura's efforts to figure out what happened in the past and how that affects what is unfolding in her present, we are then whisked back to 1899 when young Maggie Delito's life takes sudden and tragic turns.

Throughout the story we move back and forth between the present and the past quite seamlessly, with proper delineation between Laura and Maggie's lives (and POV) so that it never feels jarring.  You sense Laura's struggle as she goes from a rather menial employee to controlling every aspect of an empire, making the tough decisions as she attempts to cement her position in both her own mind and the mind of the global staff.  You feel her frustration as she fights those who attempt to undermine her tenuous hold on the company as she seeks to unravel the problems and cut a new path.  You want all to be made right in young Maggie's childhood past when she is unjustly locked away because of something she was not supposed to witness, which places her in a position to witness even further devastation as she tries to unravel the mysteries of her new home.  The story is like multiple mysteries all wrapped up into one, and it was interesting to see how they all ended up tying together.

And yes, I'm purposely being vague here so as not to spoil any of said mysteries.

Good POV usage, as I mentioned before.  Showing is handled well, which keeps the reader moving along in both time periods as the mysteries unfold into solving the ultimate mystery.  Most of our main characters were fully fleshed out.

However, there were some murky motivations scattered throughout the story that left me feeling a bit muddled, probably part of the attempts at throwing in some red herrings (though the bad guys are easy to spot right away).  Some of Laura's supposed friends and people who were supposed to care about her did some pretty pathetic things to mess with her and were not held accountable, nor were their reasons for their actions enough to hold merit.  The whole ex-boyfriend thing seemed quite unnecessary and some actions were never explained or resolved.  The will reading was one of those that left me wondering why.  Again, I'm really trying not to give anything away.  Read the book to figure out what I'm trying to say and not say. :-)

I also thought it strange that young Maggie in the flashbacks, being a twelve-year-old from a well-known and highly respected family, acted a little too young in some ways, never questioning or trying to escape or even correct the false name when confronted with it.  At times, I had to remind myself that she was supposed to be twelve and not six.  The fact that she developed friends there who obviously knew she was there unnecessarily and yet never questioned or tried to help her in any way just kept me feeling unsettled.  But then we'd never have had the fullness of the mystery, I suppose - or the tragedy that marked the remainder of Maggie's years.

Overall, I enjoyed reading and discovering the truth surrounding the mysteries in Asylum and recommend it with four and a half stars.

Pick up a copy in paperback or eBook at these locations:

Amazon UK:

CreateSpace for paperback only:

E-book only —

Apple iBooks:
  search iTunes for Kathryn Orzech

Barnes & Noble:

KOBO Books:


Author Bio:
Kathryn Orzech, Connecticut native and seasoned world traveler, writes thriller and suspense fiction with a little romance and a hint of supernatural intrigue. The author's past experience as a jewelry designer helped form the characters and settings in Asylum. Kathy admits to being a news junkie with interests in geopolitics and history, society and culture, behavioral and earth sciences. She is working on a sequel to her psychic thriller, Premonition of Terror. Check out her website at


  1. This sounds like a very interesting read. Adding to my TBR list.

    1. Hi, Sherry! Yes, well worth your time if you like a nicely layered mystery. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.