Narrator: Brittany Pressley
Length: 9 hours 34 minutes
Read: April 2017
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.
I actually didn’t expect to like this book, since I’ve been on the fence about a lot of the YA historicals I’ve read. I kind of jumped into this one without knowing much about it and got the audiobook so that I could multitask while reading. I loved that this took place in an asylum and that Grace was so mysterious. I loved her relationship with Elizabeth and Nell, and especially her relationship with her sister (even though we don’t get a lot of it).
This whole story is such a mixed bag of things, from Grace being in the asylum, to helping the Doctor find a serial killer, to finally giving someone what they deserved. I felt like it all balanced out so well, especially since there was a good amount of horror in the book — it wasn’t all just a spooky historical, but there were friendships and parental figures that I came to enjoy. The relationships weren’t perfect and there were definitely triggers for rape and sexual violence. Honestly, this whole book was just so much darker than I thought it would be.
A note on the narration, I loved Brittany Pressley’s narration of this story! I’ve listened to her a few times early this year as she narrated The Selection series and she’s just so good. She handled all the character deftly and put voices to them that I wouldn’t have done if I read it in my own head. That’s one thing I love about this historicals that take place in the dirtier parts of old London. Brittany Pressley added great character to the voices and made them so real that it really enhanced the story for me.
I feel like this was the perfect story to listen to on audiobook as the pacing was wonderful and the story wasn’t overly difficult to follow along with while listening to at a faster pace. Plus, it’s not that long, so it only took me a couple days during periods of driving and cleaning to listen to!
I will definitely need to try some more Mindy McGinnis. She reminded me of Cat Wynter’s with her spooky writing and this story made me long for more spookiness. It was very much a Jack The Ripper type of story and I enjoyed it a lot! Oh, and that cover is gorgeous!