Review: A Madness So Discreet

24376529Title: A Madness So Discreet

Author: Mindy McGinnis

Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Historical 

Format: Hardcover, 384 pages

Publishing Information: October 6th 2015 by Katherine Tegen Books

Source: ARC for Review


Book 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.


I haven’t read Mindy McGinnis’ Not A Drop To Drink series but I was greatly looking forward to A Madness So Discreet because of the intriguing book summary and beautiful cover. As a fan of historical fiction and detective stories, I ended up enjoying this one and really liked the setting that Mindy McGinnis’ created.

Grace Mae is in a mental asylum. Grace has been placed there to protect her family’s reputation and it’s clear from the very start that she doesn’t entirely belong. The asylum is a horrific and cruel place and the events that take place there are beyond creepy. Grace is saved from the terrors of the asylum when she befriends Dr. Thornhollow and is pulled into his crime-solving sprees. 

Parts of this book are immensely dark and disturbing, especially at the beginning. I really felt for Grace and could not did not want to fully comprehend the situation that she was in because it was just too horrible. Grace undergoes mental, physical, and emotional torture and withstands it all in silence. The asylum she is first in is brutal and it’s difficult to read about her experiences at times.  

FullSizeRender (1)This book turned out to be different than I thought it would be in that it turned out to be more of a mystery than a horror.  Based on the creepy nature of the book at the beginning, I thought the book was going to focus on Grace’s past and her experience in the terrifying asylum. However, that turned out to only a part of a larger story. The main focus of the book is around solving the mystery behind murders of young women and also around Grace’s development into a character who trusts both herself and those around her. I ended up liking the detective portion of the book but since I was expecting more of a horror/asylum book, it took me a little while to get used to the shift in plot and tone.

The book starts off slowly but really picks up once Grace is able to leave the cruel asylum and work with Thornhollow on solving murder mysteries. Dr. Thornhollow is definitely a Sherlock type of character. He’s incredibly intelligent, aloof, and lacks social awareness. His witty banter is brilliant and I frequently found myself chuckling over his jokes and quirky nature. Also, Thornhollow really helps save Grace from the darkness building inside her and becomes a friend that she can count on. The two of them have a dynamic relationship and greatly complement each other.

My main issue with this book is that the mystery portion was sort of sidelined for a bit and then abruptly resolved. It was quite strange because we went from Grace losing herself in sorrow to her being revengeful. She took a completely different route than expected to solve her issues. It was so strange how quickly everything was solved and I found myself wanting more of an explanation for how everything turned out. 

Fans of dark thrillers with a historical fiction twist will be captivated by A Madness So Discreet. The mystery nature of this book makes it hard to put down and you’ll want to continue reading to figure out how everything comes together. Despite my issues with this book, I still enjoyed it and I’ll definitely be picking up more of Mindy McGinnis’ in the future. 

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