"The insane asylum on Blackwell’s Island

is a human rat trap. It is easy to get in, but

once there, it is impossible to get out."

                                         - Nellie Bly

In order to get hired by a New York paper in 1887, a daring woman fakes insanity to report the atrocities going on inside a remote insane asylum.

"Simply addictive... A satisfying and riveting tale...  Historical fiction lovers are in for a treat."

- Prairie Book Review

“An incredible journey back to the Victorian era of the late 1800s…I found it impossible not to love Elizabeth, aka Nellie, and wanted to go back in time to meet her. You will not be disappointed…a must-read.”

-Readers Favorite Book Reviews      



"A Feigned Madness is a gorgeously written, powerful story of a courageous and remarkable woman."

- Historical Novel Society


the Book Cover of the Month Award

May 2020


“Debut author Mitchell brings the courageous, determined Nellie Bly to vivid life in this fictionalized account of one of Bly’s most daring escapades: her ten days in the notorious asylum at Blackwell’s Island. Mixing known history with intriguing speculation, Mitchell depicts the horrific conditions of the asylum, Bly’s ambitious rise as a newspaperwoman, and the magnetic draw of forbidden love with equal skill.”

—Greer Macallister, USA Today best-selling author of The Magician’s Lie and The Arctic Fury

“A page-turning thrill ride through an often overlooked historical atrocity, A Feigned Madness vividly recounts the horrors of Blackwell’s Island and the mistreatment of its inmates. As a reader, I could really feel Nellie Bly’s tenacious thirst to see them have justice.”


—Nicole Evelina, USA Today best-selling author

“This vivid, enthralling novel of daredevil reporter Nellie Bly’s undercover exposé of the abuses at Blackwell’s Island Asylum for Women took me by the throat and never let go. Nellie Bly’s ambitions, talents, pugnacity, and huge heart shine throughout. A Feigned Madness is a knockout.”

—Kim Taylor Blakemore, author of The Companion and After Alice Fell

“Mitchell takes us on a journey through the gates of hell to a place as mesmerizing as it is dark. A compelling read for anyone with an interest in Victorian history.”


—Pam Lecky, author of The Lucy Lawrence Mystery Series

“A riveting tale of a female daredevil who risked all for ambition in Gilded Age New York. Mitchell’s Nellie Bly is a captivating heroine whose suspenseful story inspires even as it intrigues.”


—Ann Shortell, award-winning novelist and journalist

Ever since reading Jane Eyre in high school, Tonya has been drawn to dark stories, particularly of the Gothic variety. Her influences include Mary Shelley, Edgar Allan Poe, and Bram Stoker. More contemporarily, she loves the work of Shirley Jackson, Agatha Christie, Margaret Atwood, and Laura Purcell.

When she landed on a story about a woman who pretended to be insane in order to write a newspaper story, she knew she’d landed on something she was meant to write.

Tonya Mitchell

Interested in having me make a virtual appearance to discuss A Feigned Madness at your book club? I'd love to! The book features Questions for Discussion at the close of the book to get the conversation going. Email me and I'll be happy to schedule a date to chat with your group online.

© 2020 Tonya Mitchell

Website Design by Michelle Gill

  • goodreads
  • Amazon
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Instagram