The cover of this book is incredible. Originally that is what drew to me to want to read this. When I saw it was by Mindy McGinnis I knew I had to have it. Overflowing TBR be damned! A MADNESS SO DISCREET encompasses dark family secrets, an insane asylum, a killer on the loose, and an absolute need for revenge.
Grace has been placed in a terrible asylum. She no longer speaks and an obvious indiscretion is growing in her belly. When she breaks her silence in a fit of rage she is moved to the bowels of the asylum where she meets a mad doctor who can smell sickness and a part-time physician who is trying to cure the insane by boring into their brains. This practice, which we now know as lobotomy, is surprisingly effective. When the doctor encounters Grace they quickly cook up a plan to fake Grace’s death and take her to a more pleasant asylum. There the doctor can pull Grace out as needed so he can use her help solving mysterious murders.
What I liked
All of Mindy McGinnis’ books have a dark undercurrent and feature real feeling characters. This story is no different in that respect, although I had a hard time relating to anyone who wants to stay locked in a asylum. Grace was hard to figure out for me. Her silence is almost unbearable for someone like me who can’t go any length of time without speaking. The setting is very dark and as horrible as you can probably imagine an asylum a hundred years ago to be. When Grace transfers to a better asylum the story shifts and brightens. Not too much mind you, because now Grace is getting out to look at corpses to try to figure out who killed them. The darkness is always there.
There was a sense of urgency for Grace to get revenge on her father for raping and impregnating her, since her little sister was growing a little more mature every day. Between that and the murder mystery, the story moves at a decent pace. There was also so much accuracy in this book. From what I understand of history, this was a really factual in how women were treated and how some women came to live in these asylum. If you disagree with your husband, family or employer, you must be insane! These women, like Grace, had no rights and few choices.
What I didn’t like
The shift in focus from this horrible asylum to crime solving really through me for a loop. I had a lot of faith in the author to bring it back full circle but we never really get back to that. It is a known fact that I do judge books by their covers and I do not like crime solving books. This book took me way out of my reading comfort zone. I also didn’t really like that there was no romance in this story. A lot of readers will probably enjoy that about this book, but I didn’t.
I also didn’t quite understand how Grace managed to avoid being lobotomized by this doctor. It was a close call but I guess if he had done it this would have been an entirely different story. There is also the little thing about Grace not getting in trouble at all for what she did towards the end of the story. We just glossed over that little thing and kept on going.
I struggled to finish this book and actually walked away from it a few times. Parts of this story really dragged for me. I don’t really like trying to figure out whodunit in any setting. I got frustrated thinking that the whole book would just be that. There were some confusing bits It was only my faith in the author that brought me back to a surprisingly satisfying ending.
It was pretty brilliant how the author managed to being these characters, and this situation, 180 degrees from where they began. I did love the revenge bit but could have done without the dragging bits. I think this book, like most of Mindy McGinnis books, is a an acquired taste. If you enjoyed her other books you will find the same beautiful descriptive writing and dark characters here.
A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis
Published by HarperCollins on October 6th 2015
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Law & Crime, Thrillers & Suspense, Horror
Also by this author: The Female of the Species, Not a Drop to Drink
eBook provided by My Wallet (purchased)
Edgar Award for Best Young Adult Mystery
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.
Grace Mae is already familiar with madness when family secrets and the bulge in her belly send her to an insane asylum—but it is in the darkness that she finds a new lease on life. When a visiting doctor interested in criminal psychology recognizes Grace's brilliant mind beneath her rage, he recruits her as his assistant. Continuing to operate under the cloak of madness at crime scenes allows her to gather clues from bystanders who believe her less than human. Now comfortable in an ethical asylum, Grace finds friends—and hope. But gruesome nights bring Grace and the doctor into the circle of a killer who will bring her shaky sanity and the demons in her past dangerously close to the surface.