Sunday, 22 September 2013

Review of The Dollhouse Asylum by Mary Gray

*WARNING: May Contain Spoilers!*

Author: Mary Gray
Publication Date: October 22nd 2013
Source: ARC provided by SHP in exchange for honest review

A virus that had once been contained has returned, and soon no place will be left untouched by its destruction. But when Cheyenne wakes up in Elysian Fields--a subdivision cut off from the world and its monster-creating virus--she is thrilled to have a chance at survival.

At first, Elysian Fields,with its beautiful houses and manicured lawns, is perfect. Teo Richardson, the older man who stole Cheyenne's heart, built it so they could be together. But when Teo tells Cheyenne there are tests that she and seven other couples must pass to be worthy of salvation, Cheyenne begins to question the perfection of his world.

The people they were before are gone. Cheyenne is now "Persephone," and each couple has been re-named to reflect the most tragic romances ever told. Everyone is fighting to pass the test, to remain in Elysian Fields. Teo dresses them up, tells them when to move and how to act, and in order to pass the test, they must play along.

If they play it right, then they'll be safe.

But if they play it wrong, they'll die.

*I Hereby Award This Book 5 Wings!*

*KABOOM* That sound? My brain imploding from the amazingness of this book!!

Welcome to your new home. Welcome to Elysian Fields. Welcome to your worst nightmare!!

A once dormant disease has resurfaced. The Living Rot is back. Just when people believed their lives would return to some form of normalcy, the disease rises up to ravage humankind. 
Teo Richardson has a plan that will keep him and Cheyenne safe. He must take her to Elysian Fields. There she can live without fear of the disease. There they can finally be together. Happy ever after? Not a chance!

Teo has created Elysian Fields. He has brought 7 couples with him, then there's himself, Jonas and Cheyenne. The environment is disease free, the living rot cannot reach them here. The settlement has 14 houses. 7 on one side of the street for the women and the other side, 7 for the men. Then there's Teo's home. 

Teo leaves Cheyenne in the middle of the street, alone and unsure what she has to do.  She knows she must prove something to her once tutor. He always asked questions but kept the answers close to his chest. Cheyenne always had to work hard for the answers and go the right way about getting them in order to please Teo. If she asked too  many questions, this would not please him, so she must prove her worth in this task he has set for her.

The street is devoid of people, the homes are all neatly lined up along each side of the road. But none of her neighbours are willing to come out and help her in this task. They stay locked up in their homes like they are afraid of something... Or someone...

Cheyenne can't understand this new world Teo has created. She does not know why she is here except for the fact that Teo didn't want her left in the world with the living rot. To Cheyenne, this is something scary and unknown. She can't prove her worth if she doesn't have the first clue what is going on. 

There are 7 couples. 7 men and 7 women. Cheyenne makes 8. The couples live in homes provided for them by Teo and no-one is quick to make friends with Cheyenne. After all, she's new here and why should she rock the boat? The couples have all been renamed. They are now known by names of lovers in literary fiction; Romeo and Juliet, Marc and Cleo, Bee and Ramus, along with others. Cheyenne is from now on to be known as Persephone. Teo is her Hades. 
I will be honest, at the point in the book where I discovered this, I thought Teo had a bit of a God complex going on. But I later found out there was so  much worse in store. Things that make my heart beat faster and my emotions highten to levels I wasn't aware existed. I literally had palpitations and sweaty palms.

Teo wants these couples to all prove their worth, to earn the vaccine for the virus. They must all do something of equal greatness to prove to him that they should survive and continue to live in Elysian Fields. 
Everyone cowers from Teo. They know that he has Jonas on his side. Jonas is... let's say, a little 'trigger happy' when it comes to his stun gun. He knows Teo wants order and order he shall have, no matter the cost. 
The couples all host soirees in honour of the couple they have been named for. If they do well, they earn the  vaccine. If they do not, then... well, let's just say a great darkness must dwell within Teo for what he does to the couples that don't perform their part adequately. 
Teo treads a very fine line between psychopath and sociopath for he does many evil things and does not seem to have a care about the consequences of his actions. 

The only person Teo seems to truly care about is his Persephone. When she looks at him, she can see that if she plays things right, delivers the right lines to stroke his ego, then he looks upon her with love and devotion. 

Cheyenne thought she was in love with Teo. She is 18, he is 24. She was his student and he was her tutor. It was a forbidden romance but Cheyenne couldn't help falling for the gorgeous, kind, caring man before her. He treads a very fine line between being a besotted man, in love with this woman and an uncaring sociopath who will do as he pleases and tread on anyone that gets in his way. Cheyenne was blind to his faults. She never saw the flaws that are so apparent in hindsight. 

I won't tell you more, suffice to say a lot of this story is not pretty. There are things contained within those streets that people only experience in the worst of nightmares, they wake up drenched in a cold sweat and thank their lucky stars that it wasn't real. 

Mary Gray fills me with shock and awe. This book totally has the WOW factor that bowled me off my feet. It swept me up and kept me engrossed from the very first word until the last. Even now, I cannot forget the chills that ran down my spine, the feeling of insects crawling all over me. When I first picked up this book, I did not foresee the things that would leave me feeling utterly disgusted. The story went from mildly to massively intriguing with the flip of a switch. There was one incident around 36% of the way through and that tipped me over the edge. 
I'll share with you  my final Goodreads update that I wrote just as I had finished the book:
 "WOW! Now that's what I call a f**king book! OMFG! I just... Ugh... No words... Too many words jostling together... No coherent sentences... Loved. This. Book!! Mary Gray has filled me with shock and awe.... Teo... He is master manipulator walking the divide between psychopath & sociopath. Cheyenne... She's... in love... blind... Finally starts to see the light... Amazing story! Fantastic idea behind it..."

This book was an utter masterpiece. How Mary Gray's mind works... WOW I would love for one day to be inside the very most inner working of her mind, just to see what it is that makes her come up with such an amazing story. Her world building is wildly intriguing throughout the book as her cast of characters spring to life. The characters are tangible and 3-dimensional, people that could really exist, like she plucked you and a group of friends up and placed you all in the book. What I liked was the fact that though in the back of my mind, I knew none of it was real, I actually felt drawn right into the pages and felt real emotions for these people. 
My favourite couple were Bee and Ramus. So tragic a tale. But then, Persephone was the main attraction of this book, the main star. She was so determined to help the couples get the vaccines that they so needed. She couldn't rebel openly toward Teo/Hades. She had to do it in discreet ways. She wanted to help every couple to do well in the tasks that Teo set for them so that they had the chance of living a disease free existence. Little did she know what was around the corner. No-one could have predicted going into Elysian Fields that they might not all make it out alive. Teo's master plan was a diabolical one. What it was, you will have to discover for yourself when you buy your copy of The Dollhouse Asylum.

This story had twists and turns that I never saw coming. I thought one thing and BAM! something else came out of the woodwork. I would recommend this book to anyone that enjoys fast-paced, page turning stories where they can expect the unexpected!

Thank you SHP for the ARC. I am so pleased that I got an early copy of this wonderful book. Thank you most of all to Mary Gray who must have the mind of an evil genius. How she created such an elaborate story and surrounded it with twists, turns and utter heartbreak, I will never know. 

Thank you to all who came by to check out my review. Be sure to purchase your copy of TDA here:

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