Psycho-Sanitarium by Chet Williamson


The background to Psycho-Sanitarium

The original Psycho novel by Robert Bloch was published in 1959 and became an instant hit, leading to the classic Alfred Hitchcock film a year later. Norman Bates’s terrifying story has been seared in the public consciousness ever since.It took Bloch 23 years to write another Psycho novel, revealing that Norman had been in a mental institution the entire time. But what happened in that asylum during those two decades? This is where Chet Williamson took up the story and wrote Psycho: Sanitarium



It’s 1960 Norman Bates is in the State Hospital for the Criminally Insane and it’s up to Dr. Felix Reed to bring him out of his catatonic state. Soon Bates is joined by Robert Newman, Norman’s twin brother, taken away at birth after a doctor pronounced him brain damaged. As Robert and Norman grow to know each other, Norman senses a darkness in Robert, perhaps even deeper than that which has lurked in Norman himself.

Psycho-Sanitarium is an intense psychological thriller of murder and deranged madness, which gripped me from the first introduction to Norman Bates and his infamous “mother”. As anyone who has read or watched Psycho knows Norman is a very complex character to say the least, and Chett Williamson manages to portray his character very effectively. I couldn’t help but feel some sympathy for Norman, as he struggles with the voice of his “mother” inside his head, he appeared vulnerable and timid, but unfortunately there are many sides to Norman and the author manages to describe the psyche of his character with such conviction that by the end of the book I was terrified! This book also explores the treatment of the insane, which makes for a dark and uncomfortable read at times (some of the treatments were barbaric to say the least).

I hold my hands up and admit I have never read Psycho (I’ve watched the film numerous times, but I never got around to reading the book), so I am not in a position to compare the two books. Personally I found Psych -Sanitarium to be a very a dark and chilling read, and thanks to Chet Williamson’s very descriptive writing it was fairly easy to conjure up images of the mental asylum, the madness that surrounded it, as well as the evil that lurked inside the walls. This is very much a character driven book, but the plot was well developed, with plenty of dark and twisted moments. Psycho-sanitarium reads and feels like the horror stories I use to read many moons ago, atmospheric and full of suspense and intrigue which makes for a very compelling read

4☕️☕️☕️☕️ out of 5

Print Length: 236 pages

Publisher: Canelo (12 April 2016)




11 thoughts on “Psycho-Sanitarium by Chet Williamson

  1. Pingback: The Book Review Cafe on Psycho: Sanitarium… | Chet Williamson

  2. chocolatepages

    Sounds like a gritty dark read, but one I would enjoy. I like reading (and watching) about ‘madness’ and getting into the heads of characters. I think I would alternate this book with a light fluffy one though! 😉



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