21 September 2015

Review: A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinniss

A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis

Expected Publication: 6 October 2015 by Katherine Tegen Books

Pages: 384

Genre/s: Historical Fiction, Mystery

Source: Publisher for review

Find It: Goodreads ~ Amazon


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.

In this beautifully twisted historical thriller, Mindy McGinnis, acclaimed author of
Not a Drop to Drink and In a Handful of Dust, explores the fine line between sanity and insanity, good and evil—and the madness that exists in all of us. 

My Thoughts

When I saw that Mindy McGinnis’s new book was a historical fiction mystery set in an asylum, I knew I would have to read it as soon as possible. I’m a huge fan of both Not a Drop to Drink and In a Handful of Dust which sucked me in, mushed up my feels and both of which were not afraid to really push boundaries – and I was not disappointed to find that A Madness So Discreet was dark, had no romance and that I was once again completely hooked.

Grace Mae is a character who I immediately wanted to know more about. Mute, pregnant and residing in a Boston asylum, at the mercy of the staff and other inmates, A Madness So Discreet starts as a dark story, and although it does have flashes of light, it mostly stays that way. There are experimental medical treatments, violence and some rather frightening patients that all make for a haunting setting that hooked me in immediately.

Without a doubt, Grace is the shining light of A Madness So Discreet. Despite everything she has been through, she’s tough, loyal and very smart. Partnering up with Thornhollow, the doctor who helps her escape from the Boston asylum, they investigate a series of murders, using psychology to try and find the killer which itself is rather fascinating given the time period and lack of acceptance from the police.

However, A Madness So Discreet is so much more than a murder mystery. Grace forms strong friendships with other patients in the asylum, even though she does not speak, simply by being present and supportive through actions rather than words. There is also a lot that made me think about the definition of ‘insane’, particularly as it was applied in the early 20th century – some of the patients clearly have mental health issues, but others have been admitted simply because they do not fit the ideals of society – such as prostitutes, or people who have had a strong reaction to a trauma.

It was only the ending that I didn’t really love – I get what McGinnis was trying to achieve, but it felt a little too convenient, nor was I completely convinced that it was realistic.

Overall, I adored A Madness So Discreet – it pulled me in, made me think, had characters that I adored and it was deliciously, fabulously dark.

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