Based on the story of Legion, the demon possessed man in Mark 5:1-20, Madman is the picture of true torture and rape of the mind painted with the literary brushes of Tracy Groot. Whereas the descriptions of her characters are very well done, her descriptions of madness are absolutely excellent. She draws the reader into the story and makes everything, even things the characters in the novel suspect to be fantasy, seem real.
The main character Tallis, a philosopher’s servant from Athens, travels to Palestine to uncover the truth about a school of Socrates’ that silently disappeared without warning. At first no one seems to know what he’s talking about, even though the school was supposed to have existed for the past eight years. After finally managing to pry information from one of many locked mouths, he discovers that the school’s teachers are the source of the vanishing—one was murdered, one committed suicide, six are missing or in hiding, one is a high priestess in the temple of Dionysus, and one is completely and violently mad. Tallis struggles throughout the book as he fights for the truth no one wants to hear. But his weakness of mind makes it more difficult when he realizes that the only way to find the truth and to set things right is to somehow take the chaos out of the madman…which might put it into himself.
Madman is a well-written book. It captures the intrigue of the reader as he tries to put the pieces of the mystery together and holds in rapt attention. Groot succeeds at telling a Bible story from a non-believer’s point of view without ending the novel on a cheesy note, which she should be praised for. She creates poignant descriptions of her characters and settings, especially in her descriptions of evil. It is also quite clear that Groot did her homework before she wrote about the worship of Dionysus, the everyday acts of the people living in Palestine, and the afflictions of madness, among other things.
However, this attention to detail can also be viewed as a weakness, when too much research is included in the novel. At times it is essential, either to get the story’s facts correct or to help the reader understand something he or she has never heard of before, but there are several times it’s distracting. It also makes the novel a heavy tome for the average reader, rather than one to read for entertainment or escape.
The only other faults, which seem minor in light of her otherwise talented writing, are that she flips back and forth between different characters’ points of view with very little warning, and that occasionally the speech of the characters sounds a bit too modern.
Madman is highly recommended to those who have a keen interest in Greek mythology, philosophy, psychology, historical fiction from about 30 A.D. in Greece and Palestine, or spiritual warfare. The book is recommended in general to those in upper high school and older, who are avid readers, who won’t be scared away by slightly heavier material, and who also enjoy mysteries. – April Selander, Christian Book Previews.com
If there is a way into madness, logic says there is a way out. Logic says. Tallis, a philosopher's servant, is sent to a Greek academy in Palestine only to discover that it has silently, ominously, disappeared. No one will tell him what happened, but he learns what has become of four of its scholars. One was murdered. One committed suicide. One worships in the temple of Dionysus. And one is a madman.
From the author of The Brother's Keeper comes a tale of mystery, horror, and hope in the midst of unimaginable darkness, the story behind the Geresene demoniac of the gospels of Mark and Luke.