- Hardcover: 384 pages
- Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (October 6, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0062320866
- ISBN-13: 978-0062320865
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 115 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #222,842 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A Madness So Discreet Hardcover – October 6, 2015
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From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—This compelling historical thriller opens with Grace Mae impregnated by her own father and locked away in a horrific asylum, mute and sealed within her own mind. She wishes for death, seeing herself as an empty husk, a vessel only for the life within. When she is pushed too far by the barbarous staff, she reacts violently, leading to the loss of her baby and being sent to die in a basement dungeon. She is discovered by a visiting doctor who sees within Grace the ability to help him in his work solving crime through criminal profiling. Grace is secreted away from Boston to Ohio, where though still in an insane asylum, her life is vastly improved. There she makes friends with a group of realistically complex characters, and assists Dr. Thornhollow in his work. Grace comes to terms with her life, and discovers what she can change, and how to survive that which she cannot. Though she continues to be entrapped in silence most of the time, she manages to make human connections, eventually using them to face her demons. Sympathetic characters make questionable moral choices, perhaps justified by their lack of power to effect change in a direct way. Grace's personal struggles to find her own place and influence her own story mirror the historical struggles of women throughout history. VERDICT Fans of period pieces and crime dramas will be pleased with this haunting tale.—Genevieve Feldman, San Francisco Public Library
“McGinnis excels at rich character development. 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.” (School Library Journal)
“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.” (USA Today)
“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.” (Kirkus Reviews)
“Grace’s personal struggles to find her own place and influence her own story mirror the historical struggles of women throughout history. Fans of period pieces and crime dramas will be pleased with this haunting tale.” (School Library Journal)
“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.” (Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books)
“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.” (Madeleine Roux, New York Times bestselling author of Asylum series)
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Top customer reviews
-Strong female protagonist overcoming legit trauma in her past. She worked through it in such a real and raw way. She has a dark side and makes some bad choices but she was such an empowering character.
-Healthy portrayal of friendships. There were some really strong female friendships in this book, but Grace also had wonderful friendships with men as well. HECK YES. It's so nice to see friendships between both sexes. The characters did not start drama with each other, the friendships were not plot devices, they put their friends in their place when needed but always accepted each other.
-There is no romance in this book! Don't get me wrong, I love a good romance, but it is SO refreshing to see a book, especially in YA, that stands on its own without needing a romantic angle. There is one very minor character that has a crush on Grace, and some characters make assumptions about a romantic relationship between Grace and another character. There is definitely enough delicious tension there that you can ship the heck out of one relationship (I sure did), but it was never developed and was so lowkey and just ugh, BLESS. Honestly, a breath of fresh air.
-It showed respect for mental illness while still exploring the wrongdoings in history. We see 2 different insane asylums in this book. One is a very bad place where the patients are mistreated, and the other is a safe place for them. Many female characters have been placed in the asylum by their family members because they were more sexually promiscuous or outspoken than women "should be" at the time. It's an accurate portrayal of the time period, but every character, whether truly insane or not, was treated as an actual person. Mental illness was not villainized or used as a plot device.
Something I didn't love, but why it didn't lower my rating:
-I struggled with the way things wrapped up. It's a very gray area in terms of the motives and morality of these characters. HOWEVER, as I was having these thoughts about the rightness of it, the characters were too. They explained their reasoning so well that even though it wasn't the approach I wanted, I could see in the end how we still got to the same conclusion. I appreciated that it wasn't brushed over, that one of the characters acted as a moral compass, and that it did challenge my thoughts about what was happening.
I think you'll enjoy this book if you like any of these:
-Sherlock Holmes - There was this awesome Sherlock, crime scene murder mystery, clue deducing vibe to this book that I think Sherlock fans will enjoy.
-The Cormoran Strike series - It has that private investigator and amateur-but-whip-smart assistant dynamic, PLUS the amazing non romantic working relationship with enough chemistry that you still want them to get together.
-XFiles - Same as above. The mystery solving duo with a platonic working relationship that you hope turns romantic
Content that some readers may want to know of before reading:
At first I thought this was going to be a story about an autistic girl who was maltreatment by her family and society. I wasn't completely certain of the time frame, historically or even about the locale. The need to get to the bottom of the story was so compelling that I had to finish the book in one sitting.
The story was brutal starting out and horrific. There are constant references as to what is sanity vs. Insanity.
Societal mores and laws are slipped into the story and help to establish the plot. The characters seem so real.
This is a novel that deserves to be made into a movie. And I am hoping that their might be additional stories by the author.
Please read this book...
It turned into a great story though.
I was disappointed in the ending thought as it didn't let us know what she and the Dr. ended up doing, or if they got married, or if she married someone else.
McGinnis writes some of the most beautiful and descriptive prose. From the dank language used to describe the Wayburne Lunatic Asylum of Boston, where Grace is first committed, to the melancholy and detached diction used to describe Grace’s growing detachment from the horrors around her, McGinnis astounds at every turn of the page. The abuse Grace endures is sometimes hard to read, her pain heart-wrenching and her circumstances cruel, yet she shows a strength that is unparalleled. Her relationship with Thornhollow gives her purpose as the two try to climb deeper into the mind of a killer in order to catch him or her. I really liked that this relationship wasn’t necessarily romantic, even when other characters assumed as much, but both Thornhollow and Grace need the other. In all honesty, they complimented each other so much that there were times when I wouldn’t have complained had the author gone in that direction.
Grace has been suffocating her whole life, surrounded by those unwilling to listen. Thornhollow isn’t the only one who opens up a new life to her. Grace’s relationship with the other women at the asylum, particularly Elizabeth and Nell, provides her with the kind of family she’s always wanted but never had. A Darkness So Discreet also deals with the ethics of vigilantism, of dispensing justice when evil goes unpunished. This was probably the most interesting theme and I would have liked it to have been explored more deeply. Despite this, Mindy McGinnis’s novel is dark, haunting, and one of the most memorable books I’ve read this year.