While The Grand Asylum for Those in Need of Relief, Excitement, a Change of Scenery or Simply Lost in Space is its own entity and an autonomic world, its first public mention comes from a novel of the same title featuring Gertie Grey. Her story is summarised below:
The Grand Asylum
For Those in Need of Relief, Excitement, a Change of Scenery or Simply Lost in Space
By Emmi Visser
Gertie Grey, a girl with spindly legs, is seventeen years old and too bright for her own good. She is as allergic to teenagers as they are to her – something supreme school bully Roger won’t let her forget. To make matters worse, Mr. English thinks the books she reads are too difficult while Mrs. History fails her for knowing all the answers.
Desperate for distraction, Gertie has learned to imagine different worlds. Now she has created the most real one yet: The Grand Asylum. Among its mammoth trees and pompous skyscrapers she meets perpetually happy Otto, sullen Jack and Reese, who turns her nightmares into day dreams. The Asylum soon fills Gertie’s life with romance, mystery and excitement. Even her glum, talkative cat Joseph wants to hear all about it.
Instinctively, however, Gertie knows that she is not meant for a happily-ever-after. Seemingly out of nowhere an army of uncanny, robotic people march into the Asylum and steadily turn it into a war zone. Moreover, Gertie remains supreme teenager Roger’s favourite object of ridicule. Just when she starts to realise that both worlds have more in common than she ever imagined, Reese is snatched away and Roger throws a party to celebrate her unhappiness. Having reached her breaking point, Gertie needs to find the strength and inspiration to liberate both the Asylum and herself.
The Grand Asylum combines the pain of being a gifted teenager and the exceptional power of imagination in a blend of poetic imagery, a close first person and a touch of magical realism. In other words: The Perks of Being a Wallflower meets The Lathe of Heaven.