The Sleep Room: A Novel
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"An elegantly constructed psychiatric Gothic, all spires and gargoyles and ghostly echoes―the sort of vast, dread edifice we sometimes build around ourselves when the lights go out. A clever, spooky asylum thriller."―Terrence Rafferty, New York Times Book Review
When promising young psychiatrist James Richardson is offered the job opportunity of a lifetime by the charismatic Dr. Hugh Maitland, he is thrilled. Setting off to take up his post at Wyldehope Hall in deepest Suffolk, Richardson doesn’t look back. One of his tasks is to manage Maitland’s most controversial project―a pioneering therapy in which extremely disturbed patients are kept asleep for months. If this radical and potentially dangerous procedure is successful, it could mean professional glory for both doctors.
As Richardson settles into his new life, he begins to sense something uncanny about the sleeping patients―six women, forsaken by society. Why is Maitland unwilling to discuss their past lives? Why is the trainee nurse so on edge when she spends nights alone with them? And what can it mean when all the sleepers start dreaming at the same time? In this atmospheric reinvention of the ghost story, Richardson finds himself questioning everything he knows about the human mind, as he attempts to uncover the shocking secrets of the Sleep Room . . .
high street. ‘I’ll meet you by the pier in about an hour,’ she added with breezy good humour. After her departure, Jane and I walked back to Gun Hill, where we sat together on a bench. She had put on a pair of sunglasses that made her look glamorous and continental. I asked her a few questions, mostly about herself, and she warmed to the theme of her own history. Her mother was a schoolteacher and lived in North London. Her father, a pharmacist, had died when she was only thirteen. She disclosed
up and asked me to give him my opinion of a trainee. She’s gone now. She wasn’t very good.’ ‘Why didn’t he ask Sister Jenkins?’ ‘I’m sure he did. He was in a bit of a quandary. You see, the girl was the daughter of a colleague.’ Jane snatched the cigarette packet and struck a match. ‘Osborne said that there was no light coming out from under the door.’ ‘What?’ ‘He said that you and Maitland were together in the dark.’ She drew on the cigarette and expelled a large cloud of smoke. Her eyes
the police had finished questioning me, I travelled down to Bournemouth to stay with my parents, and from there I began making arrangements for my return to London. The tragedy was widely reported and Maitland’s obituary appeared in several newspapers. Opinion was unanimous. He was ‘a gifted communicator’, ‘a modern visionary’, and ‘the most significant British psychiatrist since Henry Maudsley’. Sir Paul Mallinson, who I had worked with at St George’s, wrote that Maitland was ‘a personable
increasingly frequent and, over time, were complicated by attacks of morbid sexual jealousy (which is perhaps best understood, I believe, as an atypical instance of paranoia). Apart from being a little less talkative than usual, I can’t say that I noticed anything amiss. He was rather good at concealing his agitation, and, as for his jealousy, there was no reason, one supposes, why this should have surfaced in the workplace. I only learned of his deteriorating health when his wife, Jane
brought our conversation to an end. As I ascended the stairs, I was quite preoccupied by the day’s events, but not so inward-looking as to be oblivious of my surroundings. I heard what I thought was the sound of someone following close behind, and glanced back over my shoulder. I was surprised to discover that my senses had been comprehensively deceived. Nobody was there. This was confusing, but not confusing enough to halt my progress. I continued climbing to the top of the stairs and crossed