“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.”
Color me impressed. This book has a tortured soul to it, and it was exquisite. I’ve never seen a book tackle so many dark topics at once (at least not successfully.) This was my first book of Mindy’s, but it certainly won’t be my last.
When I first read the synopsis for this novel, I knew I had to read it. It was on my top 10 anticipated novels for 2015. I was over the moon when I received a copy at ALA15 annual. And this book exceeded EVERY expectation I had for it.
At first, I worried that I wouldn’t be able to get into it because of the wordiness of it, but after a few chapters I was sucked in, and I didn’t have a problem with the older, more complex form of English. (This is after all, a historical fiction.)
I loved Grace Mae as a character, and the Doctor as well. In fact, I loved all the characters in this novel. They were sad, haunted, and sometimes they were brutal and gritty, but above all else, they were real.
One thing I’ve always loved in novels, is when they blur the lines between right and wrong. Sometimes authors don’t succeed in blurring the lines believably, but Mindy did a wonderful job, and it conveyed a truth that must people refuse to accept.That is, that humans are dangerous. And, if a human sees fit, they can justify any action. It relayed how much morality differs from person to person, and there isn’t a single thing in this universe exempt from human behavior.
On a lesser note, it also displays mob mentality, in the form of societal norms (used both for and against our beloved main characters.) One reason some authors fail at using this plot device, is because some refuse to draw a line at all. Or, when they do draw a line, our main group of characters accept the new standard (thus annulling the effects of blurring anything to begin with.)
Here, in A Madness So Discreet, Every character has their lines drawn differently. Their differences are woven through the novel, and used to the greater advantage, instead of using their differences as subplot lines. I loved all the character arguments. In many books, the characters have one or two arguments and once it’s resolved, they go on and fix the main problem and then the book is over. Mindy almost completely eradicates subplots. Yes, she has subplots, but they are so relevant, and so flawlessly used, it’s almost unnoticeable. It’s like a symphony, drawing to a loud crescendo. Like if a symphony’s song is done right, A book uses every instrument in its arsenal, everything has its purpose, and they become like a single entity.
That’s EXACTLY what Mindy did. In this masterpiece of a book, every word is intentional, every scrap is used, and in the end, it becomes one soul.
I’d recommend this novel for ANYONE, if they are mature and healthy enough to tackle the tough topics covered in the book. This is definitely one of my top ten novels of 2015. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. It did not in any way effect my opinion.