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. – Goodreads.com
If I saw this book in a store, I probably wouldn’t pick it up. Don’t get me wrong – it’s a beautiful cover, but the description isn’t typical of books that grab my attention. That being said, it’s good to read outside your preferred genre and since I’ve read Not a Drop to Drink, a YA dystopian by this author which I really enjoyed, I was already familiar with her writing.
Initially, Grace’s circumstances are horribly dire and it was shocking to discover how easily women were admitted to insane asylums during that time period. Seeing Grace’s transformation from someone who had almost given up on life into a survivor was remarkable. She’s an intelligent, headstrong character, with a quick wit and I was fascinated by the way the lines between good and evil/justice and injustice blur for her at certain points in the story. Her actions made me question what I’d do in similar circumstances.
I didn’t know if I was going to like Dr. Thornhollow at first. He seemed like a mad scientist with questionable morals, but then I realized he’s basically just a socially awkward, geeky doctor who’s all about the science. The way he recognizes Grace’s intelligence, values her opinions, and helps her in ways she’s unaware of changed my opinion of him and they make a good team. I was relieved there’s no hint of romance between them because it would have changed the focus of the story. The supporting characters were fun and complex and added to the story line.
Although the book really took off at the beginning and was almost whirlwind at the end, the pace lost a little steam in the middle; however, I had to remind myself this story isn’t a breakneck thriller set in modern day, but more of a slower pace consistent with the time period in which it takes place.
If you enjoy books from this time period or if you’re looking for a change of pace or something outside of what you usually read, this historical thriller is a wonderful option. A Madness So Discreet is scheduled for publication October 6, 2015.
Thanks to Edelweiss for the digital ARC to review.