Book Review: Madman

8 Mar

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 . . . one is a madman.

From Christy Award–winning author Tracy Groot comes a tale of mystery, horror, and hope in the midst of unimaginable darkness: the story behind the Gerasene demoniac of the Gospels of Mark and Luke.


Tracy Groot is the critically acclaimed and Christy Award-winning author of several works of historical fiction. Her books have received starred Booklist and Publishers Weekly reviews and have been called “beautifully written” and “page-turning” by Publishers Weekly, and “gripping” with “exquisitely drawn” characters by Library Journal.

Tracy and her husband have three sons, one daughter (in-law) and live in Hudsonville, Michigan.

Connect with Tracy at her website (, or follow her on Facebook (@tracy.groot).


My Impressions:

I lead a combo Bible study/book club at my church. Our Faith And Fiction group was concentrating on the healing miracles of Jesus and chose Madman by Tracy Groot as the complimentary novel. The book is based on the Biblical account of the Gerasene demoniac. While the book received mixed reviews from the members of the study, I found it a challenging and viewpoint-expanding read. Complex in structure as well as characterization, Madman is a book that must be read slowly to experience all that it has to offer. It is Biblical fiction like no other I have encountered. Told from the perspective of a servant of a Greek philosopher, a student in his own right, Madman gives the reader a look into the Gentile life of Palestine. Should you read it? This one is not for someone who wants a quick, easy, or even light read. Its subject matter is madness and demonic possession and the power of Jesus to reach into both and set the captive free. If you are up for a challenge, then I urge you to give this one a look.

Tallis has been sent by his master, Calimachus, to the Decapolis in Palestine to find out what has happened to the philosophical school that had been founded in his name. What Tallis finds is mystery and danger and a tormented man who lives in the tombs.

The story is told from the third person point of view of Tallis and letters to his master back in Athens. Tallis has scars from a childhood trauma that make him vulnerable to both human and spiritual attack. But as he receives warning after warning to go home, Tallis is determined to find the truth. Supporting characters are interesting and unlike what I am used to in traditional Biblical fiction. Part of that may stem from the fact that all of the characters are Gentiles, descendants of Greek colonists that now make the Decapolis their home. The Decapolis is very definitely not a Jewish enclave. Its cultural life is based upon its Greek origins and includes the pagan rites and worship foreign to their Jewish neighbors. It is this paganism that I found the most interesting. While the Greeks prided themselves on rational thought and discourse, parts of their society clung to worship of gods that demanded much from their adherents. Tallis must deal with the whys of the man’s demonic possession, something that is missing from the Biblical record. The reader soon discovers that pride, arrogance, and the search for god-like power and knowledge leave more than the man in the tombs vulnerable to demonic attack. The entrance of Jesus into the story comes late in the book, but there is a great anticipation of his arrival that is felt throughout. I found the portrayal of the demoniac’s torment and his ultimate deliverance especially powerful.

Madman is an early book by Tracy Groot. This Christy Award winner for historical fiction has just been recently re-released. While I am not sure my reading experience was one of enjoyment, I am glad I read this riveting novel.


Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

(I purchased this book from Amazon. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)



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