Becoming Insane by Leyla Cardena


Becoming Insane explores strange friendship. Two friends face different challenges, but when they get together, they feed off each other’s emotions and spirals into insanity.

I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

“As an adolescent, she considered herself an outsider and a tomboy, and found it difficult to fit in at school; instead, she found solace in old movies, furtive cigarettes and writing.”

Author Website
Book Cover: Becoming Insane by Leayla Cardena.

Leyla Cardena was born in Geneva, Switzerland. She didn’t have a happy childhood and remembered it as a time of feeling lost and helpless. After school, she works in administration and then joined a trust company while studying law at night. At twenty-three, she resigned from her job to follow her dream to become a writer.

Her battle against Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) gave her insight into this subject and the experience of receiving treatment, which she incorporated in her writing. Her first novel  Karmicalement Votre was published in French in 2013.

Becoming Insane – Summary

Meet John Crane and Jack Vain, friends since their childhood years. Both are talented artists – John is a writer, and Jack draws and paints.

John Crane

Their mother raised John and his brother Robert. Both boys were constantly competing for her attention, leading to much jealousy between him. John was a sensitive child who loved writing, following in his father’s footsteps. He left his job to write full-time but without much success. When he learned from his mother that his brother had published a book, it is a bitter pill for him to swallow, and he sinks into a depression.

Jack Vain

Jack got married to a rich woman and is making good money with his job. But his wife leaves everything to him – the housekeeping and looking after their two kids. It leaves him with little time for his passion – painting. He feels stuck since he can’t quit his job to follow his dream – even more so because of his love for and dedication to his kids. His whole life revolves around making people happy, but the resulting stress and frustration cause him to suffer from panic attacks.

Also Read:  Spilled Milk (based on a true story) by K.L. Randis

The road to insanity

When the two friends get together, a series of events starts that leads them down the path to insanity. They regressed to animal behaviour, and it is only by confronting their past that they can begin to recover.

What did I like?

Even though the circumstances of the two friends in itself will not necessarily lead to insanity, their being together creates a different dynamic. They feed off each other’s emotions, which cause them to share fears and hallucinations. Typical of folie à deux, they share similar delusions caused by their close association. It can be seen in the similarity of their dreams, with their roots in the fairy tale they created together when they were twelve.


The author uses a lot of symbols in this novel. John dreams he is lost in a forest. He finds a church, and the priest tells him he must go to the castle and ask the old woman for forgiveness. The woman let her son play the violin and then give John a turn. When John argues with the woman about playing better than her son, she insists that he kneel and ask for forgiveness. A strange creature with red eyes appears and promises him his freedom if John would write for him.

Jack’s dreams meet up with a youngster who turns into a sheep and an ogre that sends him to a dungeon. The strange creature with the red eyes appears and promises him his freedom if he would draw for him. 

The different characters in their dreams symbolise the things that keep them stuck, and the red-eyed creature represents the sacrifices they have to make to follow their dreams.

And not so much?

The book ends in a cliffhanger, where the main characters are confronted with a possibly life-threatening situation. Even though the author’s goal might be to write a sequel, it felt as if the end was too abrupt, leaving too many questions unanswered.

Should you read Becoming Insane?

It is a different psychological thriller, where the author explores the events that lead to insanity in two friends. We gain insight into their lives and perceptions through the description of their delusions. It uses a lot of symbols, which makes you think of hell and eternal punishment. And a creature offering salvation. 

Also Read:  A Time for Violence- An Anthology

This book is not for everyone. Its dark, paranormal nature makes it a good fit for readers of paranormal suspense and supernatural thrillers. Similar books you can try are Beneath her Skin by Gregg Olsen and Imperious by CM Sutter. You may also be interested in my review of Room 119, a paranormal fantasy.

Becoming Insane explores the phenomenon of folie à deux, where people close to each other experience similar delusions. Do you believe the author made a sufficient case for the two friends to go insane at the same time? We would love to hear from you. Please share with us in the comments?

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Book Info



Print Length:

308 pages

Publication Date:

6 May 2017

Text-to-Speech | Screen Reader | Enhanced Typesetting | Word Wise

Categories: Medical Thrillers

Trigger Warnings: Euthanasia | Marital Violence | Sexual References | Profanity

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Hi! I am Susan

Welcome to my adventure

Why Read or Rot?

I have started reading at the age of four. I can remember how I often read under the covers with a flashlight when I was supposed to sleep.

During my early school years, we visited the library once a week. I couldn’t pick out my new book fast enough! By the end of the period, I would have finished it already, leaving me with nothing to read for the rest of the week!

Growing up, Fridays was the highlight of my week. Dad would pack the whole family into the car, and off we go! You guessed right – to the library! We were a family of readers.

In my adult years, I’ve developed a variety of interests like technology, photography, gardening and even writing. But reading was and will always be a part of my life!

Reading for me is like breathing. If I cannot read, my soul will quietly rot away

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