Grace Mae knows madness.
She keeps it locked away, along with her voice, trapped deep inside a brilliant mind that cannot forget horrific family secrets. Those secrets, along with the bulge in her belly, land her in a Boston insane asylum.
When her voice returns in a burst of violence, Grace is banished to the dark cellars, where her mind is discovered by a visiting doctor who dabbles in the new study of criminal psychology. With her keen eyes and sharp memory, Grace will make the perfect assistant at crime scenes. Escaping from Boston to the safety of an ethical Ohio asylum, Grace finds friendship and hope, hints of a life she should have had. But gruesome nights bring Grace and the doctor into the circle of a killer who stalks young women. Grace, continuing to operate under the cloak of madness, must hunt a murderer while she confronts the demons in her own past.
In this beautifully twisted historical thriller, Mindy McGinnis, acclaimed author of Not a Drop to Drink and In a Handful of Dust, explores the fine line between sanity and insanity, good and evil—and the madness that exists in all of us.
First, look at that cover, I mean how beautiful is that? But to the book,it was. . . interesting. The first 10% of it or so was dark, edgy, and horrific – all amazing. It was so different and vivid! Then things got weird. Grace becomes a sleuth in training, and she spent so much time isolated in her own mind, that I kind of lost sight of what all was happening.
The story, I think, had some holes in it. But as I reached the end I started to see the point of the characters and of madness in general. McGinnis truly painted a portrait of insanity, in all its forms. It was really neat to watch the characters who you came to think of as normal show their true colors and illuminate the madness that lived in them. And on the flip-side, you started to question what “normal” was at all. “Normal” people do terrible things, and “mad” people show such caring – so what is really the negative label? This whole point of McGinnis’ story I think is the strongest element.
I started out the story really liking Grace, but as we got farther in I found her selfish and pushing her problems onto others to have them solved. Along with that, her relationships weren’t developed well enough for me. I never really understood what connected she and Thornhollow beyond their criminal profiling, yet Thronhollow was so devoted to protecting her, and without any romance at all. I’m not saying you have to be romantically interested in someone to want to help them, but I didn’t see any reason at all. I liked her relationships with Lizzie and Nell as it showed her ability to touch into her feelings. The crime-fighting I think was the weakest part of this story, and really just served as a background plot to entertain while we studied the depths of Grace’s madness. I think it would have worked better if it had solely been focused on bringing retribution to her father.
I also thought two of the secondary characters were two of the best. Nell was so refreshing, and Falsteed was my favorite, I really wish he had more of a presence in it all. Overall, McGinnis showed her strength in the vivid imagery she establishes, as well as her ability to create visceral scenes of emotion and feeling. Her writing is amazing, and that alone makes this worth the read. I also really appreciated the historical element and reading about her research.