I'd been seeing this book series popping up here and there for a while now. I love the cover, which is what kept drawing me back to it while book browsing. What finally caused me to purchase it however, was that it was recommended to people who enjoyed the Miss Perigrine series, which is one of my favorites. It advertised that it included pictures from real asylums which I also found to be intriguing. I had high hopes when I began reading.
I give the story a B for overall creepiness/suspense. It is a YA book and I am, well.... not a young adult. I just wasn't really scared. I did however, love the premise of the old asylum being changed into a dorm but still having a basement full of dark hallways and rooms to explore. The mystery of the threatening notes being delivered to the main character, the e-mails and texts that kept popping up and then disappearing, and the suspense when the kids went downstairs into the old wing of the asylum kept the book moving. It was definitely engaging, just not really scary in my opinion. The history of the asylum and its descendants was also fun to read.
Character development was ok. I liked the main characters but I didn't really feel connected to them for some reason. They were a bit flat but not necessarily uninteresting. I think if more of the story was written in "show not tell" format, this could have improved a bit. Dan was my favorite character and I liked the relationship that was developing between him and Abby but it didn't really come together enough before it began to fall apart.
The ending wrapped up neatly, maybe a little bit too neatly, but there is a second book so the story must somehow continue. Will I read it? I haven't decided yet. Overall, I would probably give this book three out of five stars. Worth reading for the fun plot idea but not going into my top books of the year.