There is nothing more horrifying then not being in control of your own mind and body. Julia Montgomery has to live with that fact everyday. She suffers from nightmares and two years ago she killed her husband and has been a patient in an insane asylum ever since. Julia wants to get back home to her two children but she might be a danger to herself and her children.
There may be one way out of the asylum for Julia and that is The Nightmare Project. This experimental procedure uses subliminal messages and aggressive psycho-therapy to control a person’s unconscious behavior. There is one person who the project didn’t work for and her name is Kaitlyn Summers. Kaitlyn was the youngest participant in the Nightmare Project, she didn’t survive but a part of her is still in the hospital and she is looking for a new body.
Jo-Anne Russell’s The Nightmare Project is a psychological horror novel that has some violent moments that will make you cringe but the scariest part of the book is the characters. Everyone has a dark side, for instance you have Kaitlyn who comes across like an innocent victim but you also see that she has a vicious temper and has murdered before. You also have Julia who just wants to be a mother again, but she has killed before and she wonders if she can be trusted around her children because she doesn’t have control of her mental state. There are also several doctors and patients in the story who all seem to have their own agendas and Julia doesn’t know who she can trust. Each person in this book is intriguing because they keep you off-balance wondering what their motivation is and if they are good or bad.
Another thing I liked about the book is the way the nightmares are described and how at times you are not sure if what is going on is a dream or reality. Like when you hear about why Julia killed her husband, you realize what Julia remembers is a dream and the reality of the situation is much scarier. While there are a lot of suspenseful moments in this book the two scariest moments for me were parts that weren’t meant to be scary. There is one part where an orderly named Ben tells Julia that she should not do the Nightmare Project. Julia says she has to so she can see her kids again and Ben asks if she really thinks that will happen. At this point in the story you see the hopelessness of Julia’s situation. You also see Ben as someone who can help her, but you soon find out he has secrets of his own. The scariest part for me though was when Julia is thinking about the feel of her husbands arms around her and how safe she felt with him. She may have killed her husband but she never stopped loving him.
If you find the concept of mental hospitals, experimental therapies and not being in control of your thoughts fascinating and chilling at the same time you will love The Nightmare Project. This book is no light read, it will leave you with an uneasy feeling and you may not look at hospitals the same again. This is the first book in a series and I am really curious where Jo-Anne Russell will take this concept in the sequel.