A Madness So Discreet

A Madness So Discreet

4.5 10
by Mindy McGinnis
     
 

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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

Overview

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.

Editorial Reviews

Madeleine Roux
“Brutal, relentless, and haunting. Every character in A Madness So Discreet is more colorful and unforgettable than the last. With a realistic, emotionally complex, and clever heroine, readers will find themselves rooting for Grace from page one. Her story and McGinnis’s style are too gripping to ignore.”
USA Today
“A bountiful buffet of twisted, dark intrigue. While others are writing about relatively ‘normal’ heroes and heroines, McGinnis takes the less-traveled route to bring us a heroine damaged physically and mentally, and to the far reaches of her soul. McGinnis can surely tell a story.”
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“Several storylines are threaded together in this powerful and dark book, examining the line between sanity and insanity and often indicting those who get to define that line. McGinnis extends compassion to the asylum’s most helpless patients as well as the most disturbed and violent characters.”
VOYA, December 2015 (Vol. 38, No. 5) - Karen Jensen
Grace lives silently in an insane asylum, where her only real crime is her belly that grows with child. After much abuse, she devises a plan, with the help of Dr. Thornhollow, to escape not only the asylum, but also the people who put her there in the first place. They fake her death and whisk her away to a new, though much better, asylum in Ohio, where she pretends to be mute by day and helps Thornhollow solve murders at night. Along the way, she makes a variety of friends, some truly troubled and others just victims of a system that gives too much power to men and uses the thin veil of madness and the troubling stigma against it to discard the women in their lives they no longer want. A Madness So Discreet is a rich, dark feminist mystery with hints of a Sherlock Holmes influence. It is also a hauntingly dark look at our troubling history, taking readers back to a time where women and the so-called mad were discarded and abused by those they loved, in a system that made it far too easy for them to do so. McGinnis excels at rich character development; every person readers meet makes a dramatic impact on the story and on Grace. Grace herself is flawed, complicated, and struggling with intense pain that leads her to some very dark and murky moral places where she asks people to do what may be the wrong thing but for the right reasons. This book is highly recommended. Reviewer: Karen Jensen; Ages 15 to 18.
Kirkus Reviews
2015-07-22
Thrown into an asylum by the same hands that nearly destroyed her, a 19th-century girl must redefine herself and the meaning of madness to survive. At Wayburne Lunatic Asylum of Boston, Grace is trapped in a nightmare; one patient screams all night, believing spiders crawl in her veins, and an orderly thrills at causing pain. However, the asylum pales compared to the hell she came from. Grace is not insane. Her father, a powerful politician, delivered her to the asylum after she became pregnant with a child he forced upon her. Though more horrors await her, Grace quickly decides she'll never leave. When young Dr. Thornhollow, a specialist in lobotomies, arrives at her lowest moment, Grace begs him to set her mind free. But he recognizes a rare cleverness in her and offers to spirit her away to assist him in his new endeavor: catching murderers. However, she must pretend to be insane to remain safe. Grace soon constructs a new identity among the maddest of characters. Though mired in moments of unthinkable cruelty, Grace's story shines. Every person she encounters, mad or trapped by the label of madness, feels achingly real. Readers will wish they could watch her and Thornhollow solve murders for pages and pages more. A dark study of the effects of power in the wrong hands, buoyed by a tenacious heroine and her colorful companions. (Historical thriller. 14 & up)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062320872
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
09/06/2016
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
400
Sales rank:
315,629
Product dimensions:
5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x (d)
Age Range:
14 Years

Meet the Author

Mindy McGinnis is the author of Not a Drop to Drink and its companion, In a Handful of Dust, as well as the Edgar Award–winning novel A Madness So Discreet and The Female of the Species. A magna cum laude graduate of Otterbein University with a BA in English literature and religion, Mindy is an assistant YA librarian who lives in Ohio. You can visit her online at www.mindymcginnis.com.

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A Madness So Discreet 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Anonymous 18 days ago
Well done
Anonymous 5 months ago
Thought provoking
MargoKelly 10 months ago
This book ruined me. (In a good way.) Oh. My. Gosh. Mindy McGinnis ... I am a fan for life! This was the type of book that was so utterly compelling that I could not start reading another book for quite a while afterward. The characters are still in my mind. I'm still thinking about the choices they made. I'm still thinking about what I would have done in their situations. WOW. And ... I usually HATE stories that deal with the sexual abuse of a child (it was an underlying element in this book) but McGinnis handled it SO WELL that it did not make me cringe at all. But this story is about SO MUCH MORE than that. It's about women's rights. It's about respecting other people. It's about respecting yourself. It's about defending the defenseless. It's about justice and injustice. *sigh* Maybe I'll just read it again - right now! Some of my favorite lines: "Grace pulled her pillow tight over her ears, ignoring the feather shafts that poked through the cheap muslin and pricked her skin." (page 1) "...patients seeming to evaporate into an unlit hell to rematerialize as tamed demons." (page 64) "Sometimes the loveliest places harbor the worst monsters." (page 105) If you like horror or darker mysteries, this is a must read! Frankly, it's the best book I've read in ages.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Brooke-The-Cover-Contessa More than 1 year ago
I want to thank Harper Teen for providing me with a copy of this book to read and give an honest review. Receiving this book for free has in no way altered my opinion or review. I will say I had no idea what this was about going into it. Honestly, I had seen the cover and thought it was incredible. Then a few of my friends read it and said it was good. Still, I didn't read the blurb. I decided the cover was enough to draw me in. And I was not disappointed! I love that I had no idea what to expect: dystopian, paranormal, historical, contemporary? And then, BAM, suddenly there's a Sherlock Holmes feel and I was HOOKED. Grace Mae is locked away in an insane asylum. Though it doesn't seem she's insane. But she doesn't speak, and so she seems as if perhaps there really is some madness in her. Truly, she's there because she is with child, and that's just not acceptable in her circle. I loved being inside her head. While the book is written in third person, I never felt like I didn't understand what Grace was going through or where her thoughts were leading. She's an intricate and fascinating character throughout the entire book. Stronger than you might think, with just enough recklessness in her to ensure she fits in with all the crazies. But she is quick-witted, and this is truly what saves her. She finds a companion in a doctor whose only purpose is to help the insane. But the good doctor seems to have just a bit of madness in him, as well. Enough that he takes Grace on as an assistant. Together, they attempt to solve murders the police cannot seem to put their finger on. Both have amazing minds that think completely outside the box putting together clues and figuring exactly what the law cannot. The doctor definitely comes off as a bit bizarre. And I wasn't sure of his intentions with Grace at first, but it turns out I had nothing to worry about. Of course, Grace makes some great friends along the way who truly help her to understand her true self. And also make her feel like much more of a person than she ever did once cast out by her family. And this wouldn't be mysterious enough if Grace didn't hold a secret about her baby and it's true nature. One which puts the fear in her she can't seem to shake. Fortunately, she has some people she can lean on, who are able to figure out her secret and try and help her work through it. I loved that her friends were really so there for her. While they are all considered "insane," you don't really feel that from them. There's nothing One Flew Over The Cuckoo's nest about this, apart from the mean staff you meet along the way. The tone and pacing of the story was perfect. Just mysterious enough to keep me enchanted. And one of my favorite things about this book is it doesn't have any romance. This is a rare find in a YA book these days. That's not to say there aren't relationships and that you don't see things could develop. But the book is centered on the relationship between Grace and the doctor and how they are able to so easily mesh and figure things out together. Overall I really enjoyed this book. I loved the characters and the writing. I will say it was a bit slow paced at the beginning, which dropped my rating. But overall, I would definitely pick up another book by this author. Fans of Sherlock Holmes, Doctor Who, and any other who done it team, will find themselves entranced with the story in this book.
ReviewerRachel More than 1 year ago
Color me impressed. This book has a tortured soul to it, and it was exquisite. I’ve never seen a book tackle so many dark topics at once (at least not successfully.) This was my first book of Mindy’s, but it certainly won’t be my last. When I first read the synopsis for this novel, I knew I had to read it. It was on my top 10 anticipated novels for 2015. I was over the moon when I received a copy at ALA15 annual. And this book exceeded EVERY expectation I had for it. At first, I worried that I wouldn’t be able to get into it because of the wordiness of it, but after a few chapters I was sucked in, and I didn’t have a problem with the older, more complex form of English. (This is after all, a historical fiction.) I loved Grace Mae as a character, and the Doctor as well. In fact, I loved all the characters in this novel. They were sad, haunted, and sometimes they were brutal and gritty, but above all else, they were real. One thing I’ve always loved in novels, is when they blur the lines between right and wrong. Sometimes authors don’t succeed in blurring the lines believably, but Mindy did a wonderful job, and it conveyed a truth that must people refuse to accept.That is, that humans are dangerous. And, if a human sees fit, they can justify any action. It relayed how much morality differs from person to person, and there isn’t a single thing in this universe exempt from human behavior. On a lesser note, it also displays mob mentality, in the form of societal norms (used both for and against our beloved main characters.) One reason some authors fail at using this plot device, is because some refuse to draw a line at all. Or, when they do draw a line, our main group of characters accept the new standard (thus annulling the effects of blurring anything to begin with.) Here, in A Madness So Discreet, Every character has their lines drawn differently. Their differences are woven through the novel, and used to the greater advantage, instead of using their differences as subplot lines. I loved all the character arguments. In many books, the characters have one or two arguments and once it’s resolved, they go on and fix the main problem and then the book is over. Mindy almost completely eradicates subplots. Yes, she has subplots, but they are so relevant, and so flawlessly used, it’s almost unnoticeable. It’s like a symphony, drawing to a loud crescendo. Like if a symphony’s song is done right, A book uses every instrument in its arsenal, everything has its purpose, and they become like a single entity. That’s EXACTLY what Mindy did. In this masterpiece of a book, every word is intentional, every scrap is used, and in the end, it becomes one soul. I’d recommend this novel for ANYONE, if they are mature and healthy enough to tackle the tough topics covered in the book. This is definitely one of my top ten novels of 2015. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. It did not in any way effect my opinion. ~ Review for Rachel's Book Reviews
terferj More than 1 year ago
I liked this book. I found it was part disturbing, part fascinating, and I enjoyed reading it. I liked it gave me the partial experience of an asylum back in the olden days, good and bad. It sucked that some people that were sane were put in there just because. That was the case with the main character, Grace. What she had to experience that put her in there was truly horrific. No one should have to experience that but unfortunately it does happen. Grace was brilliant, one tough cookie, and walking almost a fine line between sanity and insanity. I enjoyed her relationship between Dr. Thornhollow. Their strengths complimented on each while working together to solving the scenes. No unnecessary romance either! *throws confetti* I liked her friendships with Nell and Lizzie. They were a strange bunch but their friendship worked easily. I really like how the book ended. I liked how nothing was left unanswered and everything was how it should be.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Best book I've read in years.
Alyssa75 More than 1 year ago
***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog*** A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books Publication Date: October 6, 2015 Rating: 3 stars Source: eARC from Edelweiss Summary (from Goodreads): 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. What I Liked: Of McGinnis's three books, this one would be my favorite. Yes, all three books have received three stars from me. I thought Not a Drop to Drink was okay, and I liked In a Handful of Dust slightly less, but this one was different. Strange, twisted, dark, but very refreshing in YA. I know there were certain things that I personally didn't like, but I can't fault McGinnis's talent as a writer. Grace has been sent to an asylum by her family, who has told polite society that she is on a European vacation. Truth be told, someone raped her, and she's pregnant. She isn't the first female this man has taken advantage of. This Boston senator has a magnetic personality, as well as a good deal of power. The insane asylum is filled with truly insane people, but Grace is not one of them. When an opportunity hits, and Grace is smuggled out of the asylum, she is given a chance to work with a doctor working in criminal psychology. She and the doctor work in the dead of night, investigating murders and crime scenes. But a particularly frightening series of killings has strikes Grace in a personal way. When past and present collide, will madness win? First thing I'd like to note is the setting. McGinnis masterfully created this historical world of the Americas. I believe it is nineteenth-century America, in Boston. I studied U.S. history enough to know the horrors of insane asylums back then (even now though...). As well as medical practices! Our doctor, Dr. Thornhollow, has some, ah, interesting methods of doctoring. But as to be expected. I LOVE how Phineas Gage is such a big influence in this book - I've studied him in Psychology classes, and have always been fascinated by him! This book is written in third person, limited to Grace's point-of-view. After being in the asylum for so long, Grace truly believes that she is nothing, and only survives for what grows inside her. Read the rest of my review on my blog, The Eater of Books! - eaterofbooks DOT blogspot DOT com :)
tpolen More than 1 year ago
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. Thanks to Edelweiss for the digital ARC to review.