They strip her naked, of everythingundo her whalebone corset, hook by hook. Locked away in Wildthorn Halla madhousethey take her identity. She is now called Lucy Childs. She has no one; she has nothing. But, she is still seventeenstill Louisa Cosgrove, isn't she? Who has done this unthinkable deed? Louisa must free herself, in more ways than one, and muster up the courage to be her true self, all the while solving her own twisted mystery and falling into an unconventional love . . .Originally published in the UK, this well-paced, provocative romance pushes on boundariesboth literal and figurativeand, do beware: it will bind you, too.
In this unusual romance, first published in the U.K., debut author Eagland takes readers inside an insane asylum for women in the 19th century. The opening pages plod through 17-year-old Louisa Cosgrove's early days of incarceration and flashbacks that reveal little more than her fascination with both medicine and her lovely cousin, Grace. The story picks up, though, when it becomes apparent that Louisa is in love with Grace, and both Louisa and readers begin to wonder exactly why she was committed and who committed her. Eagland conveys the atrocities and filth of the asylum with shocking vividness: "e're allowed to go to the washroom... but it's a damp, dark place with cockroaches scuttling.... and only one grimy, frayed towel between us." The author tenderly and expertly builds a romance between Louisa and an attendant, Eliza ("I close my eyes, breathing in her warmth, her familiar almond scent and my thoughts fly like birds"). The surprisingly happy ending in which Louisa escapes and confronts her accusers is a welcome relief after all of her angst and despair. Ages 14 up.