Jeannie Kynde has had it bad the last few years. The tragic drowning death of her mother, coupled with a partial hearing loss as a result of a sports-related accident, has made her the brunt of her father’s anger. When she hits her eighteenth birthday, she wants nothing more than to jump in her car – which her father gave her for the occasion – and never look back.
Before she has a chance to leave, however, Jeannie’s father tells her that her beloved aunt has been committed at the spooky mental hospital known as Deadwater Manor. A friendly visit, however, turns into a full-on committal, and Jeannie’s life downshifts into a level of hell she never could have imagined. Despite her protestations of sanity, she is subjected to the most appalling behavior, and all with freedom lingering so tantalizingly close out her window.
Her brother, her friends don’t even know she’s there. Everything seems stacked against her. But is all as it truly appears?
What I loved:
The cover, for starters. It’s wonderfully creepy, and sets the tone of the book perfectly.
The author’s writing style is very descriptive, which is great because the entire story is told in deep POV. Seeing the story unfold through Jeannie’s eyes allows it to develop at a very organic pace. We feel the intense pain of her horrific treatment, especially at the hands of the two people who seem determined to make her stay at Deadwater as miserable as possible – one who is just plain cruel, and one who is the very definition of a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
There are incongruities within the story, but these actually work to the story’s advantage, not its detriment. Is what Jeannie is seeing, and what is being described to us, truly what’s happening, or is there something going on beneath the surface that is not readily apparent? Is Jeannie truly mentally ill, and her horrific treatment just an exaggerated figment of her twisted psyche? That’s just it … we don’t know, and that made me want to keep turning pages. A revelation near the end really threw me for a loop, and I love it when I don’t see a plot twist coming.
What I didn’t love:
The pacing of the story did drag, particularly in the middle of the story. Every chapter brought a new form of torment (at least from Jeannie’s eyes), which alternately made me want to throttle the ones responsible and made me wonder how much more she, and I, would have to endure before something changed, or was resolved.
The story is supposedly based on true events, and while I’m sure many hospitals of this nature employ people who are either apathetic about their jobs or enjoy the sense of power it gives them over other people, I sincerely hope that the grotesquely appalling behavior exhibited by the two main antagonists is not a common thing.
My Final Verdict:
This is not the easiest book to read, and there are copious amounts of swearing and uncomfortable sexual situations. Because of this, I would recommend this read for ages seventeen and up. There were also several spelling errors that I was surprised were not caught in the editing phase of development.
I would definitely recommend The Caging at Deadwater Manor. If the cover doesn’t pull you in, the story will. It is a heart-rending tale of abuse, grief, self-identity, and hope that has enough meat on its bones to keep you interested from start to finish.
The story is completely fiction as far as the characters. The inspiration for the book came from my dad who worked at psychiatric hospitals during short periods of his career. He found a disturbing discovery in the attic at one of them. It bothered me so much, that I wrote the story around it. I've also incorporated many of the patient routines, attire and outbursts, as well as the hospital layout, nurses station, etc. that he shared. Luckily for me, I had a kind, wonderful dad!
Your comment that the book "is not the easiest to read" is exactly what I was looking for -- it is an uncomfortable, disturbing book, and your comment makes me feel like I did my job! Life can be harsh and girls are faced with difficult decisions sometimes. I was hoping this book would reach them (and guys too), so that maybe they would see that Jeannie had some difficult decisions of her own. Sometimes girls question if they are reading a situation correctly, and if they get anything out of the book, I'm hoping it's that they trust their instincts.
I was also happy to see that you experienced the unknown related to Jeannie's condition/reality, and your last comment put a smile on my face also! Thanks again! Sandie