The Meyerstown Secret: Howard Carlyle
Reviewed By J.A. Sullivan
- Paperback: 111 pages
- Publisher: Independently published (8 Feb. 2019)
If you’re anything like me, when you drive past a car crash there’s a sick compulsion to look and absorb every horrific detail. Old, decrepit psychiatric hospitals give me that same feeling. I know asylum conditions were vile and treatments were closer to torture than health care, but when I see anything on the subject I can’t look away. This strange impulse is what drew me to The Meyerstown Secret.
The book unfolds as a series of interviews, police records, and diary entries, lifting the veil on what took place inside the walls of the Meyerstown Psychiatric Hospital from the 1890s through to its closure and demolition. Misuse of pharmaceuticals, dental procedures as punishments, and medical experimentations are just a few of the tamer stories divulged by former staff members. The exploitation of patients is revealed in graphic detail, and I would not recommend having a snack while reading this book. But author Howard Carlyle has more than just a large dose of Splatterpunk in this work.
One of the sections I most enjoyed was the diary of Susan Dewer. After passing away in a nursing home, suffering from alcoholism, Susan’s written account of her days working in the Meyerstown kitchen is discovered. Through her own words we see this young woman’s attitude toward patients morph from compassion to apathy, and ultimately to complete disdain.
While stories like Susan’s and grotesque incidents, like three escapees on a murderous rampage, certainly had me engrossed and flipping pages as quickly as I could, there were a few aspects of this book I disliked. Most sections begin with a little background on what is to follow, a warning that the contents might be disturbing, and that the interview transcript or diary entry has not been altered or changed from what really took place. I could probably forgive a brief preamble to set up context, but the rest felt a little like shouting, “I know it’s true because it happened to my friend’s cousin’s cousin.” Whether I’m reading fact or fiction, the more time the writer spends away from the action my interest begins to wane and what follows loses credibility.
Overall, The Meyerstown Secret is a good read. And, if you’re one of those people who can’t look away from the depths of human depravity, then take a stroll through this abominable hospital.
The Meyerstown Secret
The Meyerstown Psychiatric Hospital will now become notorious for the horrific events which took place there. For years, the hospital’s history has been shrouded in a cloak of secrecy, until now.For those who worked there, it was a case of ‘whatever happens in Meyerstown, stays in Meyerstown… or face the consequences!’ For the first time ever, from first-hand accounts, diary entries and interviews, this book exposes the dark and disturbing events that occurred. The Meyerstown Secret is now finally revealed.
J. A. Sullivan is a horror writer and paranormal enthusiast, based in Brantford, ON, Canada. Attracted to everything non-horror folks consider strange, she’s spent years as a paranormal investigator, has an insatiable appetite for serial killer information, and would live inside a library if she could.
Her latest short story can be found in Don’t Open the Door: A Horror Anthology (out July 26, 2019), and other spooky tales can be found on her blog. She’s currently writing more short stories, a novel, and reading as many dark works as she can find.
You can follow J. A. on Twitter @ScaryJASullivan
Check out her blog https://writingscaredblog.wordpress.com
Find her on Instagram www.instagram.com/j.a_sullivan