Thursday, October 15, 2015

Review: A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis

Title: A Madness So Discreet
Author: Mindy McGinnis
Genre: Young Adult, Historical, Mystery/Thriller
Source: Katherine Tegen via Edelweiss

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.
Review by Nara

What a fascinating book, with all its dark themes. I think this book was even more intriguing for me as at the time I was reading the book, I was on my psychiatry rotation and it was interesting to see how Dr Thornhollow (a visiting psychiatrist) viewed "madness" and how you could justify how various people weren't insane. Thornhollow also shows Grace some basic criminal psychology, which was interesting in itself.

I feel like there was a bit of an awkward transition from the first half of the book to the second. It starts off as a dark, gothic examination of mental asylums in the past, and how cruelly they treated their "patients". While I was horrified at what was happening, I actually quite enjoyed seeing how Grace deals with the various situations she's faced with, and to see her either slipping further into insanity or pulling herself out with strength of mind.

The second half is more of a murder mystery/revenge plot and gives off a different vibe to the first half. It's more about Grace trying to get revenge for what has been done to her, and solving various minor mysteries with Dr Thornhollow. This was a little more generic than the first section of the book, but it was still enjoyable enough.

Overall, this was definitely the "beautifully twisted historical thriller" I was promised, even if the latter half veered more into generic territory. I'd certainly recommend it to any fan of darker novels.

Really liked it
Overall: 8/10
Plot: 4/5
Writing: 5/5
World Building: 4/5
Characters: 4/5
Cover: 4/5