ARC Review: A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis

24376529A Madness So Discreet

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 received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book in the least.




This was yet another book that almost slipped past me and I’m so glad I took the opportunity to read it because…….. I LOVED THIS BOOK!  


This is the first book from Mindy McGinnis that I have read and let me tell you, it will not be the last! I can only describe Mindy’s writing style as decadent.  There were so many difficult and sickening situations in this book that Mindy’s writing became like a soothing balm.  It became the sweetness in which to swallow the heart wrenching truth of what humans are capable of.

We initially meet the main character, Grace Mae, in an asylum circa 19th century Boston.   Her life is pretty rough.  Detained against her will, Grace’s only concern is protecting the life growing inside of her.  Until one day, provoked to the brink of her own sanity, Grace is set upon an entirely different path at the hands of Dr. Thornhollow.

It was more than disturbing reading about the treatment of the mentally ill and the callous disregard for human life at the Boston Asylum.  Even more frightening was the realization that during that era, even the sane could find their selves committed against their will, especially women.  It was as fascinating as it was haunting.

There were so many things that I liked about this book.  The history, the setting, the characters, and especially the story itself!

Grace Mae had strength beyond what could be expected of a girl in her situation.  Misused and discarded in the most horrific way,  Grace refused to allow her plight to break her and instead fought to liberate others in similar situations.  Although at a point, she straddled the line between truly living and allowing her actions to consume her.

Dr. Thornhollow was one of my favorite characters along with his sister.  Though the Thornhollows exuded privilege and wealth, Dr. Thornhollow dedicated his life to helping those of an unsound mind retain a semblance of normalcy.  Those he could not help, he granted mercy in the form of Labotomization.  That may seem harsh, but in reality he gave them peace from their own minds.

Though by any standard Dr. Thornhollow was considered an upstanding member of society, he had a peculiar fascination with murder.  More aptly with those who committed said murders.  Today he would be called a forensic psychologist.  Together he and Grace set off to profile a series of murders plaguing the small town where they lived.

Throughout the story, Mindy presented the question again and again, what constitutes insanity?  Is it Nell’s unabashed love of life or Lizzie’s otherworldly knowledge?  Is it Grace’s struggle with morality in the face of causing harm for the sake of good?  Or is it the men and women who commit heinous acts under the guise of high breeding and mental clarity?  Mindy not so subtlety suggests that we can never truly know what goes on in another person’s mind, and that is chilling.

Though some of the content was rough to read through and even harder to imagine could possibly happen, I thoroughly enjoyed this book!  I loved the Watson and Holmes aspect of Grace and Thornhollow.  I enjoyed the historical facts woven throughout the narrative and I truly enjoyed a most satisfying ending.


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