The Girl in the Castle – James Patterson and Emily Raymond

The Girl in the Castle by James Patterson, Emily Raymond
Also by this author: 1st to Die, 2nd Chance, 3rd Degree, The Horsewoman, 4th of July, The 5th Horseman, The 6th Target, 7th Heaven, The 8th Confession, The 9th Judgment, The Runaway's Diary
Published by jimmy patterson on September 19, 2022
Genres: Fiction, Speculative, Young Adult
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Beloved #1 bestselling authors James Patterson and Emily Raymond deliver a thrilling novel about a teen caught between two worlds and the truths that could set her free—or trap her forever.
My name is Hannah Dory and I need you to believe me
NOW: Hannah is brought to Belman Psych, told she is suffering from hallucinations and delusions. Hannah knows the truth: she must return to the past and save her sister. Could Jordan, the abnormal psych student who seems to truly care, be the answer she’s looking for?
1347: Hannah and her village are starving to death in a brutal winter. Hannah seeks out food and salvation in the baron’s castle. If she is caught stealing, she will surely hang. But if she and her friends succeed, she’ll save everyone she holds dear.
NOW: Jordan isn’t sure what to believe, and Hannah has even bigger problems: if she doesn’t make it back, her sister will die, but if she keeps going back, she might never escape.

James Patterson’s collaborations with Emily Raymond have wandered somewhere in between mediocre (Injustice) to absolutely awful (Little Black Dress, Humans Bow Down, and pretty much the rest of their collabs). The Girl in the Castle is a welcome respite from that, proving that the two can have some sort of a connection and are capable of good storytelling. The story is somewhere in the range of magical realism and YA fantasy thriller, featuring a girl named Hannah Dory who suffers from hallucinations and delusions of being a peasant in the Middle Ages. In the present, Hannah is at Belman Psych, trying to navigate a life she doesn’t understand. In the past (or in her delusions), she is fighting a ruthless baron for the life of her town.

Raymond writes both timelines well without a hint being given as to which (if either, or both) are the “correct” timeline. Fantasy and mystery collide as abnormal psych student Jordan tries to solve the mystery of who Hannah is. From the mystery to the history, The Girl in the Castle is a intriguing ride with incredible twists. My one criticism is the ending, or endings, which feel rushed and almost like Raymond and Patterson wrote themselves into a hole with not much an idea of how to escape. There are other elements that you just have to accept as mystery.

Maybe I have just been conditioned to have low expectations from a Raymond/Patterson team-up, but The Girl in the Castle, imperfect though it is, remains a reflective look at mental illness, how it is diagnosed and treated, and the lasting effects of trauma. It’s not for everyone, but I enjoyed it.