A Madness So Discreet
by Mindy McGinnis
Summary: 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.
Source: I received this book in my October OwlCrate shipment.
After getting 5 Owlcrate boxes, I realized I hadn’t yet read a single book that was included in the box. I decided to remedy that by choosing this book to read. The title and synopsis were quite intriguing and I was in the book for something dark and strange.
A Madness So Discreet was good, but it wasn’t the story that I was expecting for some reason. It’s difficult to review because I enjoyed it and it was about madness, but yet it wasn’t nearly what I wanted it to be. The book was dark and it dealt with the forensic science in its early days, which seemed to be where the focus of the story ended up. I enjoyed the doctor who took grace out of the asylum and used her sharp mind to help him solve murders in the area.
While the book certainly touched on the fact that one could be placed in an insane asylum at the drop of a hat and that certain illnesses were merely women being strong, it didn’t deal with the issue as much as I’d hoped. I’m not sure that I like where the book went with the definitions of insanity, either. I wished that it had either taken place in the asylum like a kind of Girl, Interrupted or One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest or that it hadn’t dealt with madness at all and solely focused on the profiling of murders based on the crime scenes.
The book was certainly full of various plot points. Grace’s pregnancy landed her in the insane asylum in the first place. Her condition was due to her being raped and her rapist was someone very disturbing. She had a younger sister and was quite worried that her younger sister would suffer the same fate. Grace was mute, but later found her voice and proved to be quite skilled at noticing things. She was saved by a doctor who took her out of the horrifying Boston asylum and she was placed in a much better one with more freedoms. She still had to pretend to be mute, but at night, she helped the doctor solve crimes by going with him and noticing certain people, things, and small details to help the doctor come up with information about who the killer might be. Basically, there were three major plots. The question of insanity or the issue of being deemed insane in that time period, the creation of profiling a murderer in order to catch him as a tactic in solving crimes, and Grace’s quest to save her sister from an almost certain fate.
I think maybe this is one of those situations in which I’m not reading the right age level for my expectation. I love the exploration of women evolving and the horrid history of having women be deemed insane for acting out their own desires like men do. I don’t think that a YA novel can really explore that issue as deeply as an adult novel. Also, the plot to save her sister fitting in with both the profiling of a murderer and the question and issues of insanity is much too neat and tidy for me. My expectations on the subject matter are just much to high to be satisfied with an adventure that only lightly skimmed the surface of deep subjects and tied together everything in one neat little bow. But if I was expecting a lighter book that dipped into the darkness, this book would have hit the spot.
Despite my issues, the book was enjoyable and interesting. I do recommend it, but I warn that it’s not quite what you’re expecting based on the synopsis. It’s not nearly as dark and deep and twisted as it seems to be, which is not a problem, but it’s nice to know before you go into a book and you can readjust your expectations a little bit.