John Saul, the master of supernatural suspense, John Saul, brings to chilling life the small New England town of Blackstone--and the secrets and sins that lay buried there. . . . — From atop Blackstone's highest hill, the old Asylum casts its shadow over the village. Built in the 1890s to house the insane, the Asylum has stood vacant for decades. But now, the wrecker's ball is about to strike--and unleash an ominous evil. Strange gifts begin to appear on the doorsteps of Blackstone's finest citizens.

Each bears a mysterious history.

Each brings a horrifying power to harm.

Each reveals another thread in the suspensefully woven web of . . .


This review will cover the six mini books (serials)

1.  An Eye For An Eye: The Doll

The editor of the Blackstone Chronicle, Oliver Metcalf, nervously presides over the ceremony to begin demolition of the old Asylum. But the building's fate hangs in the balance as financing problems halt the project. Contractor Bill McGuire, all set to proceed, can't hide his dismay: with a family and another baby on the way, he can't afford delays. Then a package arrives at the McGuires'--a beautiful antique doll with long blonde hair. His daughter, Megan, wraps her arms around it; his wife, Elizabeth, remains suspicious. Who sent the doll? Who is it for? What neither Elizabeth nor Bill can know is that this innocent-looking gift brings with it a murderous menace...

Three Star Rating

John Saul's simple but effective writing style made this short book a breeze to read through. 

The story isn't particularly original, but it still works. I have a thing for evil little dolls and the town/asylums' history intrigues me. Characters are realistic enough, told through a slightly detached third person point of view. It's weird that this had an intro chapter, but then another prequel chapter, then finally the first chapter. Think this must be a thing with the serial series and setting it all up. I liked the mother and father, but the little girl, before and after her weird corruption, bugged me. What an annoying brat.

2. Twist of Fate: The Locket

Jules Hartwick should be on top of the world. He has a distinguished career as president of the First National Bank of Blackstone, and his lovely daughter will soon be married. But his contentment is shattered: he's under investigation by the Federal Reserve--and that frightening audit threatens the financing of the Blackstone Center, which is slated to rise on the site of the old Asylum. And now, late at night, after a lavish dinner party, the Hartwicks receive a mysterious package containing a silver locket. Who sent it? Why? Jules has his own suspicions, as this second sinister gift unleashes a bloodcurdling chain of events... 

Three Star Rating

A little generic and the writing is a simple style, but the characters were likeable enough and the story flowed well. A good installment for the serial. There's no hint yet on why this is happening, only glimpses. 

3. Ashes to Ashes: The Dragon's Flame

When library assistant Rebecca Morrison comes across a beautifully ornate cigarette lighter in the shape of a fire breathing dragon, she gives it to her cousin, unwittingly igniting an evil that can only originate from the terrifying Blackstone Asylum. This is third installment in "The Blackstone Chronicles", Saul's serial novel about the horrors that plague a small New England town.

Four Star Rating

None of these short serial novels are what I would call excellent books, but this is my favorite so far compared to the others. Written focusing on wimpy Rebecca and the horrid aunt that raised her, the daughter has come back into town to find herself gifted with a certain dragon lighter. Of course the lighter is evil, and of course we still don't know how these objects can affect people and what the whole purpose behind any of it either. Oliver is clearly a leading figure in the series as he keeps getting flashbacks and scenes in each book are told through his POV. I can't guess yet what it is, so I do applaud Saul for not making things obvious. The ending was especially sobering, but needed with the character.

4. In The Shadow of Evil: The Handkerchief

From deep in the Blackstone Asylum, comes the gift of a handkerchief. But as with all gifts that originate in the asylum, this beautiful linen handkerchief is not the token of goodwill that it might seem. This is the fourth installment in the "Blackstone Chronicles", Saul's serialized novel about the macabre occurrences in a small New England town.

Four Star Rating

Of course all these serialized stories are demented, but this one a little more so with the handkerchief and ending. You can't feel that bad for the victim since she was so unappealing. This one flows quicker and as an easier read than some of the others, not sure why, maybe because the side-story doesn't lag much and the new revelations about the main plot are finally arrived fuller in force.  


5. Day of Reckoning: The Stereoscope

When attorney Ed Becker spots the carved antique dresser in a dusty attic, he takes it to restore. Then Ed and his young daughter, Amy, make a curious discovery: Inside one of the drawers are a set of old pictures and a stereoscope, an old-fashioned device that allows you to see images in three dimensions. Oddly, all the photos resemble their house, where Ed’s grandparents lived long ago. But the scenes inside the stereoscope also bring to vivid life some terrifying memories, eerie images that seem all too real…

Four Star Rating

The story of this one is reaching and slightly silly, but it's one of the more depressing side tales. More about the asylum and main story comes into play, which makes sense since the next serial story is the final. Characters are still little thin, but Oliver is likeable enough for the most part.


6. Asylum (The Conclusion)

Editor Oliver Metcalf has written a provocative article on the Asylum that implies there may be a curse on the town. The community is outraged, charging him with inflaming hysteria. More urgent is the mysterious disappearance of Rebecca Morrison. As Blackstone rallies to find the missing woman, a mysterious package arrives on Harvey Connally’s front porch. The contents hold the ultimate, grisly key to the horrors of the Asylum. Now, at last, Oliver must confront the gruesome truth of the past—one that threatens to crush all the inhabitants of Blackstone in one final grip of terror…

Three Star Rating

I have to admit I was surprised at the ending a little and the revelation - it was a fitting finale to the serialized story. By the time the 6th book was being read, I was done with the series and eager for it to be done. Not a bad series but a little choppy. The stories were interesting in some ways, too cheap in others.