Walingford is a place rife with dark history and dirty secrets, and where Dr. Patrick Denny, renowned fiction writer, has returned to the profession he had forsaken years before—psychiatry. To the astonishment of his long-time girlfriend and ambitious literary agent, Helen Olssen, Patrick abruptly moves them from the glamor and excitement of the big city to the quaint, little backwater, abandoning a lucrative writing career from which they both profited. Manipulating his way into a job at Everston Psychiatric Hospital, or Foreverston as the more lucid patients call it, the overconfident and sometimes reckless doctor plunges into the damaged psyches of the most disturbed and hopeless—an insomniac, a schizophrenic, and a catatonic. But as he endeavors to untangle the mysteries of their troubled minds, his own tormented past begins to bleed into his present, and the macabre storyteller that still dwells within pushes him dangerously close to madness.
In this triptych of tales, psychology and superstition, reality and fantasy blend together as the boundaries between the stories within stories break down. In “The Tower” Samantha Elliot can’t fall asleep, but instead of pills Dr. Denny has prescribed a story–the diary of Alfred D. Cummings, an account of bewitchment and sacrifice. In “The Monster” one of the doctor’s fictional creations comes back to haunt him when Michael McKay, a man plagued by the horror of his childhood, believes himself to be the main character in this macabre tale of children and monsters. And in “The Tree” Dr. Denny’s own mental anguish threatens to destroy everything when he fails over and over again to free Amelia Dearborne, a patient trapped within the dark forest of her own mind.
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- TM Gregg