(Website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)Also by this author: The Female of the Species, Given to the Sea
Published by HarperCollins on October 6th 2015
Genres: 19th Century, Historical, Horror & Ghost Stories, Law & Crime, Mysteries & Detective Stories, Young Adult
Mindy McGinnis, the acclaimed author of Not a Drop to Drink and In a Handful of Dust, combines murder, madness, and mystery in a beautifully twisted gothic historical thriller perfect for fans of novels such as Asylum and The Diviners as well as television's True Detective and American Horror Story.Grace Mae is already familiar with madness when family secrets and the bulge in her belly send her to an insane asylum—but it is in the darkness that she finds a new lease on life. When a visiting doctor interested in criminal psychology recognizes Grace's brilliant mind beneath her rage, he recruits her as his assistant. Continuing to operate under the cloak of madness at crime scenes allows her to gather clues from bystanders who believe her less than human. Now comfortable in an ethical asylum, Grace finds friends—and hope. But gruesome nights bring Grace and the doctor into the circle of a killer who will bring her shaky sanity and the demons in her past dangerously close to the surface.
First of all, I have to say that I adore Mindy McGinnis’s writing. It’s gritty and raw and she holds nothing back in her descriptions and this book is exactly that and more.
I think I’ll say this up front and get it out of the way… I thought this was going to be a bit creepier, especially based on that cover. For some reason this screamed creepy to me. As you can probably tell, I didn’t really find this creepy at all.
We first meet Grace inside the insane asylum that she’s been sent to… carrying a baby and a family secret that no one wants to hear about she’s been relegated to this horrific place and won’t speak a word. When her voice returns, with it comes a great bout of violence and she’s relegated to the dark cellars where those who can’t be helped are kept.
When a visiting doctor realizes the predicament Grace is in, he offers her a way out and jumping at the chance she escapes to Ohio with this doctor who wants only her assistance at crime scenes where they will work together to try and use criminal psychology to help solve a series of gruesome murders.
As I said, McGinnis creates amazing settings, she did it with Not A Drop To Drink, and she does it again here. I completely loved that this was historical in nature, and believe me, that’s saying a lot because I don’t typically read Historical Fiction. The Boston asylum was so easy to imagine this could be partially because I watched AHS Asylum but in all honesty, McGinnis’s descriptions and depictions were a big part of being able to picture the horrors within the walls. But something else she excels at are relationships, and the ones she created for Grace were wonderful to read and experience. The friends she made at the Ohio asylum, Nell & Elizabeth, were lovely and the relationship between her and Thornhollow was wonderful. I loved that he was something of a surrogate father figure for her especially based on her real family situation.
Overall, I really loved the gothic feel to this story and thought the plot and pacing of it was really well done. When you pick this up, keep in mind that while it’s something of a murder mystery where Thornhollow and Grace are trying to solve these horrible murders, it seemed less suspense filled to me and more of just a slow progression to the reveal and solving of the crime.
Once again, McGinnis tells a wonderful tale with unique and original characters. Definitely add this to your to read list (if you haven’t already) and I’ll be keeping watch to see what McGinnis writes next!
Thank you to the publisher for an advanced copy in exchange for my honest thoughts.