“To cure fear, you must use fear.”
Rose Briar claims no responsibility for the act that led to her imprisonment in an asylum. She wants to escape, until terrifying nightmares make her question her sanity and reach out to her doctor. He’s understanding and caring in ways her parents never have been, but as her walls tumble down and Rose admits fault, a fellow patient warns her to stop the medications. Phillip believes the doctor is evil and they’ll never make it out of the facility alive. Trusting him might be just the thing to save her. Or it might prove the asylum is exactly where she needs to be.
Thank you to Xpresso Book Tours, Blaze Publishing & Krystal Wade for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Trigger Warnings: This book mentions topics such as: mental health facilities, unethical psychiatric treatment, drugs, mental illness and suicide.
I want to preface this by saying that I’m not even sure how to begin reviewing this book. It is 100% a book that you need to experience completely for yourself. So with that said, I apologise for how vague and short this might be!
Asleep focuses on a girl’s struggle with being placed in a mental health institution. Rose Briar, much to her horror, is being forced by her parents to stay at Shepperd Institute. During her stay she will be under the care of Dr. Underwood, who is highly regarded in his field. Rose insists that she is fine and that her parents are completely overreacting. Rose thinks she is totally alone at the institute until she meets another patient, Phillip. Rose and Phillip form a close bond as they realise that Shepperd Institute and Dr. Underwood are hiding a lot of dark secrets. Rose’s grip on reality begins to fade in and out as she starts searching for answers, until the only thing she knows for certain is that she needs to escape Shepperd Institute and fast.
This book is a complete and utter head trip. Like, 100% it will Mess You Up. I’m still reeling from it. I’m still confused. I actually felt disorientated whilst I was reading this. I was constantly second guessing myself the entire time I was reading. You think you’ve got it all figured out, but then something will happen and you’ll be questioning EVERYTHING. The way Krystal writes Rose losing touch with reality is so realistic that I didn’t even know what scenes were real and what ones weren’t. I STILL DON’T KNOW.
At first you feel so bad for Rose and angry on her behalf. I couldn’t believe that her parents pretty much threw her in this institute simply because she wasn’t talking to them and because she wanted to move away to go to Art School. Rose’s mother seemed to be really overprotective and kept thinking Rose was going to turn out like a friend of hers, Heather Shepperd (yeah, have fun solving that mystery 😉 ), who committed suicide. As more as the story progressed I started wondering if there was a lot more to the story than we were being told. I started to believe Dr. Underwood when he kept pushing Rose to say why she was really here. Rose reveals that her “friends”, Josh & Megs, decided to play a “prank” and make it look like she had attempted suicide and then sent the photo to her parents. The same friends were supposed to show up to help Rose escape but not surprisingly they didn’t. When I read what they did I was honestly ??? Forgive my lack of words bUT WHO THINKS THAT IS A GOOD IDEA FOR A PRANK? Rose, sweetie, I’m sorry but your mum was right; you need some new friends. Even though I mostly believed Rose’s explanation, Dr. Underwood kept pushing and at the back of my mind I kept wondering if there was more. Rose also had a relationship with Josh, but she finds out that he wasn’t being honest to her or Megs. I was so scared when this happened because I thought Rose was still going to defend him, BUT SHE DIDN’T. I honestly wanted to hug Krystal for making Rose call Josh out on his behaviour and instantly realise she could do so much better.
Rose is a fantastic main character and her relationship with Phillip is believable and not instalovey at all. I think I would have preferred if it stayed completely platonic, but that’s a personal thing and the romance wasn’t in anyway annoying or the focus. When you take into consideration where Rose was, what was happening to her and how alone she felt, I was actually so happy when she found Philip and had someone who was helping and listening to her. He really helped give her strength when she was feeling completely hopeless. I really can’t say anything else about Rose and Phillip’s relationship because I don’t want to take the “what the actual hell is going on!?” fun out of this book. Just be aware that nothing is ever as it seems… Dr. Underwood is extremely creepy and unnerving, but what’s even more unnerving is when you start wondering; “what if he’s not the bad guy?”.
Whilst I absolutely adored Asleep to pieces there were a couple of things that annoyed me… The main one being that Rose kept referring to all the other patients as “lunatics” or “insane” and like, okay… Maybe they weren’t completely mentally stable, but as someone who has such a personal experience with these kind of things it just didn’t sit right. I know so many people refuse to seek help in fear of being labelled “crazy”. The facility and unethical treatment of the patients also made me extremely uncomfortable. The Shepperd Institute would have fit perfectly in with the 1800s. I completely understand that this is a horror and not a contemporary that’s going to be giving a realistic portrayal of mental health facilities, but it was just so hard to read. It definitely did make you feel for Rose. It also made me feel sad and helpless because I know there are still probably people who don’t receive proper or correct treatment from the facilities that they’re placed in. I just feel like I need to mention this because I do not want anyone to get triggered if you decide to pick up this book. The ending felt a bit rushed too, everything just happened so fast and I was like “SLOW DOWN I CAN’T DEAL WITH THIS”. I would have liked a little more detail on certain people’s connections and backgrounds.
It took me 5 or 6 chapters to get into Asleep, but once I did I was completely hooked. It’s a captivating and disturbing read that will keep you on the edge of your seat as you try (and fail) to understand what is happening to Rose. There are twists and turns until practically the last page and even then I still can’t help but wonder to myself if any of it was real.
Asleep totally has a Suckerpunch vibe to it, so if you enjoyed that movie then chances are you’ll love this! I definitely recommend it to everyone who wants a good mind bending horror/thriller in their lives. I also can’t not mention that cover, HOW GORGEOUS IS IT?
I’m sorry this is so…. over the place and doesn’t really have any structure. I just don’t want to take away the best part of this book! Going into this blind was the best thing ever and definitely how everyone should experience this book!
Thank you again to Xpresso Book Tours, Blaze Publishing & Krystal Wade for allowing me to read this incredible book. You can find out more about Krystal and her other books here.
MY RATING: ★★★★☆