A Madness So Discreet
By: Mindy McGinnis
Release Date: October 6th 2015
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Source: Friend picked me up a copy. Thanks Kate!
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.
I went into this book expecting to be disturbed, creeped out and generally enthralled. I was happily not let down on these desires though the story was much different I expected. McGinnis’ writing style always manages to really grab my interest and I find it to be incredibly beautiful.
A Madness So Discreet started out in an asylum that had little care to actually help those living there. Grace has swallowed her words and refused to speak. This first section of the story was DARK. Really, really disturbing and a good amount of the subject matter was really hard to read though somehow it didn’t manage to be so dark I was at all wanting to stop reading. It was a mesmerizing darkness that kept me eager to know what would come next.
Once Grace meets the doctor, Thornhollow, the pacing and the feel of the book really switched gears. Going into this book I expected the asylum darkness and the horror of reading about Grace’s horrible past. What I didn’t expect was the banter between Grace and Thornhollow and the focus on Grace’s friendships with the inmates at her new ethical asylum.
McGinnis introduced many side characters that really played a major role throughout the story. I enjoyed watching Grace open up to them and begin to live again. Dr. Thornhollow pulled her from inevitable death and despair and gave her the hope to live again. I felt this was all very well done. Grace as a character was exceptionally strong, loyal and brave. I was very impressed with her perseverance in the face of amazingly awful things occurring.
Thornhollow was the classic intelligent, socially awkward and brilliant doctor/detective type. I am such a sucker for this character type I was immediately a fan of him. His care for his patients and his dedication was also a draw to his character. I loved that though he was caring and considerate he lacked that human connection to others in many cases. I felt that as the story progressed and as he gets to know Grace he learns from her and begins to open up himself. I also liked that though many elements of his personality seemed so positive it still look me back a bit by the things he was willing and able to do to others.
While reading this book I became fascinated in asylums and the use of lobotomy. I have had very little research in how asylums have changed through time and how our perception of mental illness continues to evolve. I still have some researching I’d like to do because of questions and curiosities this book introduced. I can easily see that McGinnis did a wealth of research to be historically accurate and it came across very naturally within the story.
The only aspect that sort of threw me off was that the story switched gears three times. The first section was dark and disturbing, the second was the hunt for a serial killer and the last section focused on Grace coming to terms with her family history and seeing retribution and protection for her sister. Somehow, McGinnis was able to succeed in her execution and the story did flow rather well for containing so much in a rather small amount of pages. I was able to connect to the characters and I was always interested in the outcome. I do think that it might have been a little more successful to me if more time was spent on the different story themes.
The book didn’t leave off in a manner where there HAS to be a sequel though I really would love to read more with these characters. I still see many possibilities for expansion on the character’s stories and growth.
Mindy McGinnis is an incredibly strong writer and it’s always a pleasure for me to read her writing. I really enjoyed the characters introduced in A Madness So Discreet and it was evident many hours of research were done to help create the setting and historical elements. I only wish that some of the story elements had been either cut or expanded on since it felt rushed in spots.