Until recently, I didn’t even know that this series came together in one book. My mom bought the series as it was released, one each month, back in 1997. So I have the original books, which apparently aren’t in print anymore, although I’m sure you can find them used.
That being said, I decided to do a review on the book that has all of the parts together, since that is how you can buy it now. Normally I would have done each part separately, and I had planned on it, but to make it easier for everyone, we will do it this way.
First of all, John Saul is one of my favorite authors. Starting when I was around ten, I fell in love with his writing, as my mom owned all of his books. Because of this, I have actually read every single book he has written, and was saddened to learn recently that he is now retired. Since I read all of his books so long ago, I decided to read them again, and I started with The Blackstone Chronicles. Honestly I didn’t really remember this one when I started reading it, at least not as well as I remember some of his others, like Midnight Voices and The Manhattan Hunt Club.
The Blackstone Chronicles is a novel written in parts that takes place in the town of Blackstone. Blackstone is full of secrets – especially the Asylum, which stands looming on the hill. Over the years, many people have disappeared into Blackstone Asylum as a patient, and never came back out. Sure, there are stories, but no one really knows the truth – except for the previous owner, who is now dead.
The owner’s son, Oliver, is the editor of the Blackstone Chronicle, the town newspaper. He covers a lot of stories of strange happenings around the town, and they only get stranger as soon as the first gift is delivered – an antique doll. After this doll is delivered to one family, things start to take a strange turn within that family’s home.
With the arrival of the next artifact to yet another family, a locket, things get ever stranger in the town of Blackstone.
These occurrences go on – each book covering a new artifact from the Blackstone Asylum, delivered to a new family or individual. Each object breaks people down or even causes death in some, and because of this, The Blackstone Curse becomes the talk of the town – if you are delivered an artifact, you better be prepared – you are now cursed by these evil objects.
But are they really evil?
And how are they tied to the history of the Blackstone Asylum? Even more curious – how does the person delivering the items know which items are to be given to which recipients?
The story (and the tension) grow more and more with each book you read, until you finally turn the last page in the shocking conclusion.
Okay, let me just say – this series gets a full 5 stars. It is a freaking masterpiece. This is the kind of book that you sit with and just keep reading.
Each book in this series goes into detail about each artifact that is delivered to the people of Blackstone – not all the details, mind you – that comes later. But just enough to keep you guessing and make you wonder what is going to happen next, and how all of it ties together.
Because it does all tie together.
Not only do all the stories take place in the same town, with the same characters, but there are events in each book that kind of carry over into the next, and the last one is the icing on the cake, so to speak. This book is the longest of the six, and it ties everything up with a neat little bow.
Like I said, John Saul has always been one of my favorite authors. I just love his writing, and his books always deliver that perfect combination of mystery, thriller, and horror that I never get tired of reading. This book (or set of books, depending on what version you pick up) is no different. There was so much time and effort put into this serial novel, and it shows. The characters, the little details, the plot – everything.
I think this series is the perfect thing for someone new to horror or those reluctant to read the genre. The shorter lengths of the books in the series make it a great introduction, because they are short enough that they do not seem intimidating, yet long enough that you can easily get invested in the story and the characters.
I actually read like two of these books a day, because on their own, they average around 85 pages each. I think Asylum was about 92, but that was the longest one, as I mentioned.
I really loved these books and I wouldn’t hesitate to read them again in the future, either. They are such great reads for when you are limited on the amount of time you want to commit to one book (and let’s face it – we all get in those moods where we just don’t want to crack open yet another 600 page novel), and they all intertwine beautifully.