YA Review: A MADNESS SO DISCREET by Mindy McGinnis

Remember that ARC I mentioned I was reading last week? It was A MADNESS SO DISCREET by Mindy McGinnis, and it’s sooo good. It doesn’t release until Oct. 6, but you should pre-order it right now because I’m not passing this one along. It’s staying right here on my gorgeous shelves. Anyway, let me tell you more so you can go make that very wise purchase.

A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnisGrace 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.

Here are the five things I loved most.

1. The tough topic – I’m usually more of a light read kind of girl, but this story really hit me. I’m not giving anything away that you won’t figure out in the first couple of chapters to say that Grace is in the asylum because it’s her family’s version of sending a girl away to the country to have her baby–only in this case it’s to hide the horrifying secret of how she got pregnant. The story doesn’t shy away from the psychological effects of rape or how difficult it is for a woman to obtain justice. That was true when this story was set over a hundred years ago and remains true today, so it’s an important story to be told.

2. The history – It was fascinating to see the developing field of criminal psychology through the lens of Grace working with Dr. Thornhollow. With the prevalence of TV shows focused on the importance of exploring the criminal mind, it’s hard to imagine a time when the authorities disdained these theories.

3. The characters – I loved the variety of characters, from Dr. Thornhollow, who had a bit of Sherlock Holmes, to Grace’s friends at the asylum and the police officer who always arrived with his hat in his hand. Each character was so carefully drawn. I remembered them as individuals after I’d finished reading the book–I’m writing this a week later and still thinking about those secondary characters.

4. How it made me think – Obviously the main theme of this book was about madness and how it’s defined. There’s a very interesting discussion about that between Grace and Dr. Thornhollow at the end in which they don’t agree. However, there’s a line earlier in the book that I really liked.

“I think we’re all quite mad. Some of us are just more discreet about it.”

5. The endings – No, that “s” is not a typo. I contend there are a couple of endings here–the ending to the crime they’re solving and the resolution with the horrors committed against Grace. I did not expect this story to take the direction it did in one of these cases, and that’s all I’ll say about that because I don’t give away endings.

I’m wondering if there might be more to come for Grace and Dr. Thornhollow. I certainly feel like they might have more crimes to solve. I’d definitely read more!

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About Michelle I. Mason

I'm a full-time writer, focusing mainly on middle grade and young adult fiction with some freelance PR writing and editing on the side. I'm also a wife, mom, Christian, violinist, avid reader and St. Louis Cardinals fan. And I watch way too much TV.
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