The Medea Complex by Rachel Roberts

med1885. Anne Stanbury – Committed to a lunatic asylum, having been deemed insane and therefore unfit to stand trial for the crime of which she is indicted. But is all as it seems?

Edgar Stanbury – the grieving husband and father who is torn between helping his confined wife recover her sanity, and seeking revenge on the woman who ruined his life.

Dr George Savage – the well respected psychiatrist, and chief medical officer of Bethlem Royal Hospital. Ultimately, he holds Anne’s future wholly in his hands.

The Medea Complex tells the story of a misunderstood woman suffering from insanity in an era when mental illnesses’ were all too often misdiagnosed and mistreated. A deep and riveting psychological thriller set within an historical context, packed full of twists and turns, The Medea Complex explores the nature of the human psyche: what possesses us, drives us, and how love, passion, and hope for the future can drive us to insanity.

The Medea Complex was different to what I was expecting, even though I’m not really sure what I was expecting.

Based on true stories and medical records from the late 1800s, it documents the time that protagonist Anne spends in an asylum.

The thing that drew me to this story was definitely the lunatic asylum setting. I find it fascinating how different things are today to the barbaric nature of those unprecedented, experimental medical practices of that time. Roberts did a great job of setting the scene, making me feel sorry for Anne despite her crime.

I was sucked in from the start.

I’m not always a huge fan of multiple first-person narratives but I thought in worked well in this book. Between Doctor Savage’s notes on Anne’s rehabilitation, Anne’s commentary on the asylum and what she goes through there, and Edgar’s grief-stricken behaviour, we are swept away into a world filled with intrigue, anticipation and mystery.

This is one of those books that is hard to review without giving away any spoilers so you’ll have to forgive me for not going into plot details. But what I will say is this, the last thing I was expecting was for The Medea Complex to turn into a court-room drama, but it did, and it was good!

I thought the second half of the book really picked up the pace, there are double-crossings, murders, missing persons, and you’re never quite sure what, or who to believe. On the whole, I enjoyed the narrative voice – especially the humour, considering the serious subject matter – but I did sometimes feel like there weren’t enough differences between each of the characters. I sometimes got confused about who was speaking (even though each chapter is named) which occasionally brought me out of the story.

Overall, I was impressed with this debut novel which kept me guessing, and I especially enjoyed the author’s notes detailing the characters and events that were based on fact, and where she found them. I think the work Roberts must have put in definitely paid off.

unicorn rating 4

Disclosure?: I received a free copy fro the author in exchange for an HONEST review.
Title: The Medea Complex
Author: Rachel Florence Roberts
Details: Paperback, e-book, 272 pages
Published: Published November 1st 2013 by CreateSpace
My Rating: 4/5

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7 thoughts on “The Medea Complex by Rachel Roberts

  1. A great review, I found this book fascinating as I’d read quite a lot about the changes made in the way asylums were run during this period and so I could see the author had done plenty of research.

  2. Pingback: April 2014 on Lipsyy Lost & Found | Lipsyy Lost & Found

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