Published by Katherine Tegan on October 6, 2015
Genres: YA Historical Fiction, YA Mystery
Also by this author: Not A Drop To Drink, The Female of the Species
Source: For Review
I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!
Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”
With a pregnant belly and family secrets buried in the depths of her mind, Grace Mae finds herself in an insane asylum in the late 1800’s. She keeps silent but her sharp mind is always alert. When she has a violent outburst she finds herself locked away in the darkest depths of the asylum next to a man who becomes her ally, as he can tell she’s a great mind, and helps her escape with a doctor who is dabbling in criminal psychology. They flee to an asylum in Ohio where they embark on their work and Grace finds friendship and strength in this new home of hers.
I loved Mindy McGinnis’s Not A Drop To Drink so I was SO here for this book about something so completely different than that one…and I have to say I’m just so ready to read ANYTHING Mindy writes after experiencing both of these stories.
I thoroughly enjoyed it and could not put it down. It was a PERFECT October/Halloween read for those who don’t want scary but like a little mystery and an atmospheric setting that is equal parts dark/brutal (the mystery, Grace’s family secret, the conditions at the insane asylum) as it is heart-warming (Grace’s friends).
Specifically what I enjoyed:
- Blend of historical fiction and mystery: I love historical fiction so I was definitely excited for this setting in the late 1800’s in Boston and small town Ohio. I hadn’t really read the blurb because I knew Mindy McGinnis + insane asylums + historical fiction was all I needed to know so I was pleasantly surprised by the thread of mystery in this one. Thornhollow reminds me of a quirky Sherlock-esque kind of character and I was so interested in their search for the killer and their delving into how the murderous mind works. I don’t want to say much but OH MAN for how the mystery ended up…not only who did it but how it all works out. GAH.
- Insane asylum setting: Wow did Mindy McGinnis do a phenomenal job with the setting. I could picture these asylums — the cold, dark cells and the sounds of the patients. It was chilling. I just am so thankful to not have been alive in a time where it was so easy to throw women in these places for any reason that a man could say and it is their word vs the woman’s. We see two different asylums, the one from before she escapes and the one she and Thornhollow head to, and they were pretty different from each other and I’m so glad that the bulk was spent in the more ethical asylum because the Boston asylum and their practices were just awful and I couldn’t handle Grace being there any longer.
- Grace: Grace was such a great heroine whose story broke my heart. She’s been sent to the insane asylum by her family in order to protect a secret that could ruin their family. She’s not insane but nonetheless she’s decided to not talk and just bide her time until she knows she’ll get out. Everything about her story is heart-wrenching. I loved her and admired her strength considering all she has to endure, how she adapts, her quick mind and how she creates her own destiny from what she’s been handed (with the help of her friends, of course!).
- the cast of characters she meets at the asylum: I loved that Mindy took care in writing these other characters that Grace meets in the asylum — some who becomes allies, friends and co-conspirators. I really loved them all and learning their stories. I soooo want a book, or hey even a short story, to know more about Falsteed — he was SO INTRIGUING and I know there is probably so much to his story. We meet the insane and the not so insane and those in between and Mindy writes them all so wonderfully.
- The writing: I enjoyed the writing in her debut but something about her writing was just even more striking in this novel. I kept getting lost in those words!
My only gripe is that sometimes the pacing would stall or something and I’d be not as into it but then something would remind me why this book was so compelling! It wasn’t that I expected action action action but there would be these parts where I just wanted to skim to get to something better. Also, I had hoped for better pacing regarding the mystery. It was drawn out to find the killer and then it all came together full force in a short amount of time. It was a good ending to it all but it was super fast considering how drawn out the mystery was.
A Madness So Discreet was such an atmospheric and chilling, albeit not in all the ways you might expect, historical mystery. I loved the characters and the asylum setting and the dark look into the criminal mind. SUCH A PERFECT FALL READ especially if you don’t dig scary!