A Madness So Discreet
By: Mindy McGinnis
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.
I decided that I would write a short review for this book because I find myself not having all that many thoughts on it. I sort of just have a ‘meh’ feeling about it. You know when you finish a book and although it grabbed your attention and you finished it pretty quickly, you look back and think about it only to realize that there was nothing that stood out about that book, nothing pushing you to recommend this book to other people? That’s how I felt once I finished it. Well actually, I was ready to pass out from sleep deprivation because I literally read 70% of that book within a 4-hour reading frame due to a readathon.
The thing is, though, if this book hadn’t been part of a readathon, then it probably would’ve taken me much longer to read. Not that it wasn’t well-written or anything, but because it’s slower-paced and altogether… boring. I’m sad to say it, but it’s true. I was really looking forward to this book being about a girl in an asylum losing her mind, losing her sanity and all of that crazy stuff, but I was let down.
Aside from that, this book gave me a Sherlock Homes-esque vibe towards the middle. This book is a historical fiction novel and this girl has a ‘brilliant’ mind and can see things that other people usually look over. I thought that was cool and all, but our protagonist just didn’t have any personality, anything that made me think “I’m rooting for this girl, I will be by her side until the very bloody end” or the opposite. Usually that’s how I separate well-developed characters from badly-developed characters. I think the author began creating her characters but never actually finished before she decided she would delve into writing the novel because all the characters felt a bit unfinished. I can’t exactly put my finger on what makes them unfinished, but I just had that feeling throughout the novel that the characters weren’t exactly all there, if that makes any sense.
“Quite the opposite; my definition is too broad. I think we’re all quite mad. Some of us are just more discreet about it.”
Now, let’s move onto the case that Grace and the doctor she’s working is trying to solve throughout a large portion of the novel. This case was complete and utter dung. There, I said it. I’m sorry, but if you’re going to make a book about how your ‘detectives’ are brilliant people who see the littlest things, you have to make the case they’re solving equally – if not more – brilliant. Make the antagonist the Moriarty to their Sherlock! I’m a sucker for a good mystery, although I don’t read them, and the mystery in this novel was such a let-down I would’ve put it down if I didn’t have a deadline to reach.
So I just realized I’ve come to basically the end of this review, yet I haven’t said one good thing about it. I did enjoy some aspects of this novel, which means it’s not a 1-star review. I just enjoy complaining when I don’t get what I want from a novel, but don’t we all? Now I did enjoy the writing in this book, particularly the way the author wrote the beginning chapters because those were masterpieces of the written word, I tell you.
Also, I did like the way McGinnis made the characters speak in an old dialect that I tend to lean more towards (it’s why I love historical fiction so much) and how she kept that language up throughout the novel. I don’t know if anybody else has experienced reading a historical fiction novel and in the beginning of the book, the characters all speak in the way people actually spoke during that time period, but then halfway through the book they use modern phrases or no longer weave their sentences in the way they’re supposed to according to their time period, but I have. And it annoys the crap out of me. I’m so happy that didn’t happen in this book because that would’ve removed half a star for me at least.
I can’t bring myself to rate this book anything less than 3 stars because although I had a lot of technical issues about it, I did enjoy it while I read it and there were some good aspects to it. I would ‘t particularly recommend it to people, but I also wouldn’t tell people not to read it. Some people will enjoy it more than others, and I am one of those that is stuck in the middle saying ‘meh’.
Have you read this book? If so, what are some of your thoughts about it? Let me know in the comments!