I received this galley in consideration for an honest review.A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis
Published by Harper Collins on October 6, 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
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.
A Madness So Discreet was one of my must have ARCs at the Texas Library Association convention and has been highly anticipated by many readers. I am here to say that ti was worth the wait. You see right away that Grace is not mentally ill, but she is under an emotional strain so tremendous that it would crack anyone. The whole book flirts with that line and pushes at the idea that anyone who is pushed enough can appear “insane” and many women were indeed pushed to that point. The conditions of the asylum where Grace is kept while she awaits the delivery of her child were truly horrific and they become even more so when she has enough and lashes out at her captors. Her chance meeting with Thornhollow is where the story really begins as she is transformed into someone with a double life; one as a patient at a much nicer facility and one as a CSI assistant for a doctor who is positively Sherlockian. While Grace finds new purpose in being an assistant to Thornhollow’s one man CSI team, she must come to terms with her feelings about the home where she grew up and what is means for her sister to be left there. Understandably, there is a lot of darkness in Grace, and I was so pleased that the story didn’t turn away from it. Rather, it seemed to run toward it with open arms. Grace struggles with the morality of the law and the lure of justice handed down outside of the law, and she had to reconcile the two. Sometimes she doesn’t succeed. This becomes more and more apparent as they close in on a serial killer that is praying on young women.
This story is not a romance, but I loved the professional and personal regard that Grace and Thornhollow had for each other. The descriptions of the other inhabitants of the asylum show that friendships are important and bring hope in any circumstance, and the feeling of sisterhood that Grace finds with some of the other patients was a truly wonderful part of A Madness So Discreet. As things with the serial killer and with Grace’s past come to a head, the book becomes very tense. She must find a way to help her sister without exposing herself and the plan they devise was brilliant and satisfying. One aspect this story that made it so chilling is the truth behind it. Not the specific events, but in the way that women and the mentally ill were treated. If a woman was not conforming, having her declared insane was not that difficult a task. In fact, as is referenced in the book, this was a tactic employed against many suffragettes. So, there is a triumph of sorts in Grace’s escape to her safer world, but a sadness that she must be hidden away for the rest of her life essentially because she was a rape and incest survivor. A Madness So Discreet was everything I was hoping it would be and more. I enjoyed the mystery aspect as well as the personal struggles, not just of Grace, but of many of the other characters. I would love to see more books set in this world!