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.
This novel is dark. It deals with murder, rape and insanity. Not subjects can you can treat lightly or glide over with any semblance of good spirits.
Grace is thrown into the inescapable hell of asylum life after circumstances out of her control land her there, until she escapes. Her reason for escaping, that her skills would prove useful in solving crimes, seemed too convenient and simple to actually be believable. Grace is fierce, wild and broken, coupled with her lack of morals and determination she could have been an interesting character to read about. However, the writing is stiff and colourless and left very little room for character development or personality.
The strange combination of solving murders and asylum life is haunting and dismal. The only breaks from this cold reality are in the comforts of the people Grace meets. The relationships she forms with other patients are sweet and warm, uncommonly so in such a harsh environment. In spite of this the novel takes a turn for the worst when Grace takes on the position as assistant detective. The way they solve crimes is reminiscent of Criminal Minds, delving into the behaviour of the criminal instead of just the facts. They are focused solely on one series of attacks and Grace’s skills are actually used very little.
Furthermore, the ending left me more than a little infuriated. I thought it took away from the struggles Grace and the other patients endured as victims of insanity and society by putting Grace’s father in that same category. There is no excuse for the crimes he committed and I don’t think he should have been granted the mercy of living among the insane, no matter how small of a mercy that is.