Title: A Madness so Discreet
Author: Mindy McGinnis
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Published: October 2015
Genre: Historical Fiction, Thriller, Mystery, YA.
Average Goodreads rating: 3.79
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 Rating and General Opinion
Another great surprise this was, although for some reason I was expecting a paranormal factor that never came (I must have misread the synopsis some time). I enjoyed the whole set of this story, that obscure period with all of this character enrichment was simply perfect
The writing was the best part about this book. Mindy definitely has something special and when her hands get in contact with the quill magic happens. That’s the only way I see fit to describe my experiences so far with this author.
The narration of this novel kept you gripped to the pages and its slow development in this case, helped to get to know the different characters that took part in this story.
The plot was a bit all over the place at times but the character and setting evolutions were definitely something good. Although this book might have been plot oriented I see it more as a character oriented one. It reminded me a bit of William Ritter’s Jackaby series (reviews here) without all of the paranormal activity of course and with some added great disturbances. The beginning was a bit confusing and it took me a little while to understand what was going on and where were things headed but I ended up picking up the pace of it all.
The story picks up with Grace, who is a patient in a Boston asylum, one that is not known for the correct treatment of its patients. We slowly get to know of her current situation which has nothing to do with her mental capabilities and more with those from her surroundings. She doesn’t speak at all by her own choice and is in some kind of mourning state. After some understandable attack she gets send to the “basement” or “hell” of the asylum, were she meets a most interesting character named Falsteed. After some time in total darkness and in detestable conditions she is ready to let herself go completely and decides too completely disappear from the face of the earth. As things turn out she gets her wish by the hands of Dr. Thornhollow with the condition that she must help him, in what not disclosed yet. The mystery adventure starts then when the pair move to another asylum in Ohio were Grace finds herself as a right hand for the doctor’s nighttime adventures. The mystery part of this novel begins here but it doesn’t turn out to be the focal point of the story. The interactions Grace has with her new friends (Nell and Elizabeth) and the rest of the personnel are far more important and so she decides that life has to go on in her new home. After some hard inner changes happen and you think the story has to end (definitely not with a bang), things take a turn and the trigger for this whole plot finally unravels in front of your eyes. I wasn’t expecting that to happen, because we hadn’t heard much about it since the beginning but still I really enjoyed this turn of events. Most of all I think this was something necessary for Grace’s development and for the return of her inner light although she ended up compromising her friend, Dr. Thornhollow’s beliefs which didn’t make me happy at all.
I found that the mystery part of this story lacked in content. The whole investigation and search for the serial killer didn’t take much of the story and was resolved quite easily after some setbacks. So yes, I was disappointed about that but the character development was so good that I didn’t mind.
This novel after all, spoke about some serious subjects and the way our mind reacts to them. The subject mentioned here is a trigger for the novel and is also a trigger for the destruction of your moral compass, soul and whatever you want to call it. It doesn’t matter that this is a fictional work and that it takes place in 1890 the topic in itself is ageless and still happens today and it’s just deplorable.
The main two characters that we found in this story were sympathetic, loving in their own way, interesting and intriguing but I found the secondary characters were really the cherry that gave life to this novel.
Grace Mae, our main protagonist is full of layers and shells, very understandable giving the upbringing this girl had. She is a strong woman who had to suffer through things no one should and after going through a metamorphosis and losing her way for a while, ends up back to her old self, thankfully.
Dr. Thornhollow, the second in command in this story had some antisocial qualities and the way he was presented at the beginning led me to think he was really disturbed but it turns out he ended up being quite normal and not as unexpected as the author might have thought.
Falsteed, the kind of friend Mae never thought to find. This was a surprising addition to the main cast but I won’t lie if I say that I was disappointed by his backstory. I had in mind something grotesque and dark and it was certainly insane and dark but not as much as I expected.
Nell and Elizabeth turn out to be the best medicine Grace could have had.
Among those secondary characters with little but imperative appearances we can find good ones such as Reed the serviceable messenger, Janey the sweetest nurse ever and Ned the apparently not knowing stable guy who is so sensitive, sweet and sees more than anyone el se thinks. But on the wrong side of the tracks we can also find doctor Heedson who although had small appearances he clearly made a strong impression and Mr. Mae himself. The later was such a despicable character that I would have preferred him to suffer for all eternity!
I would completely recommend this book because after two books from the author I am pretty sure Mindy McGinnis does not disappoint.