BOOK REVIEW: Building 51
– By LastBoneStands
The early history of mental healthcare in the United States is filled with brutality and horror. There was a time when asylums were used to keep the mentally ill hidden away from polite society. Many patients were locked away without proper diagnosis, forced to endure sadistic treatments that did nothing to help the afflicted. It was not uncommon for an unfortunate patient to die at the hands of those that were tasked with caring for them. Thankfully, things have changed and we have a better understanding of mental illness and have improved the care and treatment of those suffering with it.
While these changes are for the better, is it possible that the tortured ghosts of the past might still be suffering in the condemned confines of sanitariums that have been shut down across the country in the latter part of the 20th century? Building 51 is a novel that might just answer this very question.
Author Jennifer L. Place has written 3 books before Building 51, but this is her first “horror” novel and she really knocked it out of the park! The story centers around the character of Jackson and his group of friends as they take an afternoon adventure to explore the grounds at a decommissioned mental asylum in the Hudson Valley of New York State. The actions of this group of youthful adventurers, while on the premises, seems to have aroused the spectres of the previous inhabitants. Unfortunately for our heroes, those souls left behind are not content to wait in the shadows. They want nothing more than for the living to join them.
Reading through Building 51, one might be surprised that this is Jennifer Place’s first horror novel. She is a natural. Her pacing feels brisk, but not rushed. She paints a clear picture with her words which brings the characters and abandoned hospital to life. While we may get to know some characters better than others, none of them come off as being interchangeable or caricatures, they all have their own personalities and motivations. The story itself is solid and draws the reader in, much like the hospital is pulling in the characters. Because of the pacing, plot and characters, the story moves in a way that will feel familiar to horror fans, but remains original enough that it will keep the reader interested.
For those that enjoyed films like Session 9 or Grave Encounters, Building 51 is highly recommended. You’ll find plenty of moments that will play in your mind like a film, and you’ll experience the scares that go along with them.
To hear our reviewer, LastBoneStands, chatting to author Jennifer Place on his excellent podcast, The What Cast, follow this here link! > http://thewhatcast.libsyn.com/the-what-cast-229-building-51-with-jen-place