In this story of psychological horror, a young doctor takes a position at an out of the way hospital for the mentally ill, where a new form of therapy is being undertaken on six damaged women, who are kept under permanent sedation in the Sleep Room. As the doctor notices the women’s sleep cycles synchronising, strange things start occurring.
Honestly, I think you can pretty safely judge this book by it’s cover. It looks creepy, but also not terribly complex literature. I quite enjoyed reading it, and I liked the way the odd occurrences could easily be ignored or explained away at first, but they build slowly but solidly into something very creepy. It’s a good read for the cold winter night leading up to Christmas.
The story is set just after the second world war, in the UK, and though we get good descriptions of the characters and the hospital setting, I feel like the time period wasn’t really evoked. I liked that the asylum setting meant that there was already an atmosphere, and this was built on with scares that didn’t just rely on gore and never descended into silliness, but stayed on track. However, that track doesn’t really lead to anywhere original, you know where the story is heading when you start out, with a final tacked on chapter that feels like the author was told to add a twist ending, which feels hugely contrived and implausible, but doesn’t spoil the experience as a whole.
Interestingly, the author is a practising psychologist who writes fiction, and in this book, he based his story on work by psychiatrist Dr William Sargent, who undertook this kind of controversial sleep therapy in the 1950’s.
Read it if: you like haunted house or asylum stories, mild horror but it’s no Stephen king.