The Mad Woman’s Ball by Victoria Mas

Disclaimer: I received a finished copy of this book from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: The Mad Woman’s Ball

Author: Victoria Mas

Book Series: Standalone

Rating: 3.5/5

Recommended For…: Historical Fiction, thriller

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publication Date: September 7, 2021

Publisher: The Overlook Press

Pages: 224

Recommended Age: 18+ (sexual assualt TW, suicide attempt, forced institutionalization, Abelism, misogyny, grief, death, violence, gore)

Explanation of CWs: Forced institutionalization, sexual assualt, and suicide are graphically shown. There are abelist comments. Grief and death frequent.

Synopsis: The Salpetriere Asylum: Paris, 1885. Dr. Charcot holds all of Paris in thrall with his displays of hypnotism on women who have been deemed mad and cast out from society. But the truth is much more complicated—these women are often simply inconvenient, unwanted wives, those who have lost something precious, wayward daughters, or girls born from adulterous relationships. For Parisian society, the highlight of the year is the Lenten ball—the Madwomen’s Ball—when the great and good come to gawk at the patients of the Salpetriere dressed up in their finery for one night only. For the women themselves, it is a rare moment of hope.

Genevieve is a senior nurse. After the childhood death of her sister Blandine, she shunned religion and placed her faith in both the celebrated psychiatrist Dr. Charcot and science. But everything begins to change when she meets Eugenie—the 19-year-old daughter of a bourgeois family that has locked her away in the asylum. Because Eugenie has a secret: she sees spirits. Inspired by the scandalous, banned work that all of Paris is talking about, The Book of Spirits, Eugenie is determined to escape from the asylum—and the bonds of her gender—and seek out those who will believe in her. And for that she will need Genevieve’s help . . .

Review: For the most part I enjoyed this read. It was informative and it gave me a lot of insight into asylums and how they were run. The book did well with the world building and atmosphere, it was positively creepy and terrifying.

However, I did feel like the character development was a bit lacking and I couldn’t connect with a few of the characters. I also felt like the beginning was slow and the plot twist/device was obvious and gave away the ending.

Verdict: It was good, just predictable.