Mindy McGinnis, the acclaimed author of Not a Drop to Drink and In a Handful of Dust, combines murder, madness, and mystery in a beautifully twisted gothic historical thriller perfect for fans of novels such as Asylum and The Diviners as well as television's True Detective and American Horror Story.
When Grace Mae is sent to the insane asylum because of the bulge in her belly, she already knows about madness and family secrets. It is in the darkness that she may find a new lease on life when a visiting doctor interested in criminal psychology recognizes Grace's brilliant mind hiding beneath the fear and anger. Although the doctor insists that for Grace's safety she must continue to play insane while assisting him at crime scenes, she finds hope in a different, ethical asylum. But the gruesome nights when Grace and the doctor investigate a killer targeting young women bring Grace's shaky sanity, and the demons of her own past, dangerously close to the surface.Kindle Edition, 384 pagesExpected publication: October 6th 2015 by Katherine Tegen Books
Grace Mae cowers in the darkness, listening to the new girl scream about spiders in her veins. Grace has gotten used to the horrors surrounding her since she was sent to the asylum. Grace's bulging belly is the reason she is locked up. Here in the darkness, she sees the monster who impregnated and had her committed over and over in her dreams. Unexpectedly, Grace is delivered from her nightmares when one of the visiting doctors arrives to lobotomize some of the troublesome patients. Grace wishes to undergo the procedure to spare her from her hellish life, but instead the doctor offers her an alternative. Grace soon finds herself miles away, living in another asylum as the doctor's personal assistant. Now Grace spends her time helping to investigate murder scenes. When a murderer starts targeting young woman in the area, Grace's sanity begins to falter because she takes it personally. Will Grace survive the madness that surrounds her?
What I Liked:
- A Madness So Discreet starts out brilliantly. It is dark, creepy and terrifying. The reader is plunged into the asylum, shirking in horror at the horrific treatment of young Grace, whose only crime is pregnancy. Matters grown even worse as the reader learns who impregnated Grace and locked her up. It was frightening to learn how quickly a woman could be locked up in an insane asylum back then. I was completely invested in the first half. It made me shudder, and I couldn't stop reading.
- In the second part of the book, the story takes a turn. Grace is no longer imprisoned in the hellish asylum, instead she moves to another asylum where by day she masquerades as a mute patient, but by night, she travels with the doctor, who heads the asylum, to investigate murder scenes. Grace and the doctor make a brilliant team. Together they take in the details and use science to help deduce who done it. I liked seeing the two use their smarts, especially during the Victorian era when behavioral psychology was in its earliest stages. I loved the attention to detail, and the way the author incorporated all the science and theories that were pertinent to the time. I especially liked pondering over the definition of madness and insanity for the era.
- I was surprised at how my thoughts toward Dr. Thornstein changed. At first, I was a bit off by him, and a bit frightened of him as his job was to perform lobotomies. However as the book progressed, my opinion dramatically changed. He was actually a kind and considerate doctor who had the well being of his patients in mind. I appreciated that he never treated the patients at the asylum like they were mad, instead he tried to treat them as human beings. I also liked his quick wit and dedication to science. In the end, I really liked Thornstein.
- Grace Mae the heroine, was a character who impressed me, for the most part. I liked how hard she fought to maintain her sanity when plunged into horrific and dire circumstances. I appreciated that she was extremely intelligent, and I enjoyed seeing her work side by side with Thornstein. I enjoyed her transformation and growth right up until the final chapters.
- I was pleased that there was no romance. I kept expecting something to develop, but the story remains completely romance free, which was a good thing. I think a romance would have been out of place and muddled the plot.
- The book ends in a satisfactory place, drawing to close the main story threads, while leaving a tantalizing thread dangling for the next installment. I am looking forward to seeing Grace and Thornstein working together to solve more violent crimes with science and smarts.
- I was sucked in at the beginning by the fascinating insanity theme. Then the book took a strange turn, and the plot shifted in another direction. Instead it turned to murder investigation. I was a bit disappointed in the story shift because I felt it lost the dark, creepy vibe and it wasn't as intriguing.
- I enjoyed Grace's growth and transformation right up until the final chapters where she does two things that completely put me off. I can understand her desire for revenge, but her behavior is deplorable. I also didn't like the way she went about getting back at the person who ruined her life. At this point, I lost a lot of respect for Grace, and I am hoping she will redeem herself in the next book.
- I was disappointed in the end of the book. First, the second half of the book builds on catching a murderer, and then Grace does something that quickly ends this story line, and I thought that after all the buildup, the pay out was weak and disappointing. Then in the final chapters, Grace wants revenge. I hated the way she went about it. I was not a fan of the way it all played out, and how quickly the book ended. It would have likely been a four star read if not for Grace's deplorable actions and the abrupt ending.
- While Grace is suffering in the first asylum, she meets a fellow patient in the darkness, Falsteed. Falsteed is absolutely fascinating. He saves Grace in more ways than one. I was so curious to learn more about this man. A few of his strange secrets are divulged, but not enough to satisfy. I kept expecting him to show up later and play a role, but alas, he remains a mystery. I want more Falsteed.
A Madness So Discreet is a book that starts out strong with dark themes of insanity and abuse toward the mentally ill. I was completely invested in the first half of the book, but then the story line shifts and the tone changes. I still enjoyed the second portion of the book, but I felt it paled in comparison to the first part. The book fell off the tracks for me in the final chapters with a couple of strange twists, and behavior from the main character that I didn't like. Still, I liked the themes of the book, the characters and the premise, enough to want to continue the series. This is a book that had so much potential, and I was sad to see it falter at the end.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.