Wednesday, 14 July 2010

The Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls - Emilie Autumn (EA)


The Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls is part autobiography, part fictional horror. It tells of Emilie Autumn's time spent in a psychiatric ward after she tried to commit suicide. Alternately, it tells the tale of the fictional (or is she?) Emily, a girl locked in an insane asylum in Victorian London.

Emily's tale is artfully written and paints a vivid, page-turning picture of the horrors of the Asylum. EA has done much research on the mental institutions of Victorian times, and the blood-chilling events that were the norm are described in horrific, blood-chilling detail. It tells the tale of Emily's youth and the hard path to her unearned internment in the asylum, as well as the other girls she meets there. The girls unite in an effort to keep themselves sane (for most are not truly insane when they are dumped at the asylum, only unwanted by society.) If you like thrillers you will love the Victorian Emily's story and the shocking ending that leads to the inmates' uprising and their happily(?) ever after.

The real life Emilie's tale is equally as chilling. I admit I was disappointed that it didn't go into more detail into her early years, but I should have known better than to expect a typical autobiography from EA. Instead of a year by year account of her life, The Asylum shows her time in a modern mental institution - which was almost as shocking as the Victorian institution. Diary entries in EA's own handwriting describe the medications she took, her thoughts of suicide, and the brutal reality of cutting. If you want to learn more about these topics, and bipolar, you will be pleased with Emilie's story, although it is left open as to whether the real life Emilie has a happy ending or not. Perhaps there will be a sequel... EA is full of surprises.

I give the book 4 out of 5 stars, simply because I want to know more about EA's past and what made her who she is today, not just her time in a mental hospital. If not for that, I would give it 5 out of 5. The book itself is gorgeous, a large, beautifully illustrated edition perfect for display. Stunning photographs and drawings by EA herself fill the pages. There is something for everyone in this volume. Well, anyone may be slightly mad, that is.

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