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.
First: look at that cover.
Second: look at the author.
Gorgeous cover? Check. Author I like? Check again. I read Mindy McGinnis’s first duology, Not A Drop to Drink and In a Handful of Dust, and they were decently good reads. With her latest work, A Madness So Discreet – well. That’s a whole different story. McGinnis’s storytelling improves tenfold and is overall a stronger novel. I am very impressed with A Madness So Discreet.
THE WRITING IS SO GOOD
Something about McGinnis’s writing style has become more sophisticated since her Not a Drop to Drink duology, and I noticed it in the way she uses third-person perspective skillfully and by smoothly ending the chapters on a mysterious note but not in a way that’s confusing. Her writing is captivating, and while it is in third-person POV, there’s no disconnect from reader to character; instead, her refined writing style allows the reader to view our main character Grace as a mature character.
NOT A HINT OF ROMANCE
I was happily enjoying the story when at the halfway mark, I paused and noticed that there was not a hint of romance yet. Finishing the story, I can announce that there is none. I am grateful for a handful of reasons:
+ this story simply would not have worked with a romance. It’s already pretty complex in terms of plot: an insane asylum, friends, family issues, murder mystery, lobotomy, politics…you can see that adding in a romance would have made it very cluttered.
+ Grace Mae is a strong female character who don’t need no man! She’s smart and relies on her practicality and logic rather than her emotions.
McGinnis sure is smart by keeping the romance out of this story, because if it got all mushy-gushy, I wouldn’t have viewed this story the same way I do now.
… IT’S NOT A CREEPY STORY THOUGH
Let me admit one thing: the cover looks a lot creepier than the story itself. I don’t want to say it’s a deceiving cover, but the story itself isn’t too scary at all (and side note: who’s grabbing her foot on the cover??). It’s more like a fascinating type of scary, the way McGinnis creates these characters who know how to analyze death, asylums, and insanity itself. I think McGinnis really explores the psychological side of humanity and goes into insanity vs. sanity appropriately. Alas, the story just isn’t creepy the way it’s presented on the cover. (It’s still a very nice cover and I wouldn’t have it any other way!)
MCGINNIS WRITES GOOD CRAZINESS
Overall, A Madness So Discreet is an extremely strong novel. It’s got everything that makes up an engrossing story: a refined writing style, a complex and interesting plot, a strong heroine, and a lack of romance that allows the focus to be on the plot. I’m impressed with McGinnis, and I highly recommend this story for all readers.