Author: Mindy McGinnis
Blurb: 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.
"They all had their terrors."
There was so much hype before the release of A Madness So Discreet and I think that definitely affected the enjoyment of so many readers. I've read a lot of reviews saying that this wasn't what they expected it to be. But that is not automatically a bad thing. I am always wary of hyping books up because I know I have a tendency to do that and then get disappointed so I went into this pretty blank. Which worked out spectacularly well.
The book starts in a terrible asylum for the insane in which Grace has been placed. She is treated in increasingly horrific ways, all the more horrific because these are things that happened to real women at what is a relatively recent time in our history. Once Grace has escaped from this asylum the tone of the novel definitely changes and becomes a bit like a historical version of Criminal Minds. Except the protagonists may just be verging on criminally insane themselves. Asylums always fascinate me in novels and I really liked how here we saw both the first asylum she was sent to, with horrible mistreatment and the second in which nurses and doctors actually treated the patients like human beings. It's a shame that there weren't more asylums like the latter.
Grace was a great character to read from, she had a lot of darkness in her but was still an inherently good (for the most part) person. Her darkness appealed to the darkness inside me, inside I am sure a great many people, and I found it really interesting watching her struggle with not only a murder case and the "demons in her own past" but herself as well. I really liked that there wasn't any romance. I thought there would be, going in and I liked that instead Grace got more of a chance to focus on herself and her family and getting friendships and an independent life. She does make some fairly dark and potentially immoral, ok definitely immoral, decisions at the end but I kind of liked that. I understood why she did what she did and although it wasn't necessarily the right decision it definitely made sense with her character and the things that had been done to her. Besides I find it hard to condemn her for what she did. I really don't want to spoil it!
The side characters were often compelling, Dr Thornhollow was an interesting character although I thought that at times he was a little downplayed. I would have liked his character to be a bit more fleshed out but overall I really liked him. The other characters at the asylum were also very interesting and varied. There was one character at Grace's previous asylum who got basically forgotten (even by me I admit) for the rest of the book and although I understand that she couldn't necessarily have been rescued and that life is unfair and all of that - it would have been nice to know what happened to her, and it would have been great for her to get transferred to Grace's new asylum.
I do wish that this was not a standalone novel. Partly because I genuinely love Grace and would definitely enjoy reading more about her and partly because I felt like the ending was a tiny bit unsatisfying. Enough was resolved that it works as a standalone but I thought there was so much more to get out of these characters, and so many more places for the plot to go. Grace's wrestle with the demons from her past might be over but there must be so many murderers out there just waiting for her and Thornhollow to find them!
Overall I thought this was a really good novel and if you like Criminal Minds or any of those sorts of shows you'll probably enjoy this. I am so glad I talked myself out of trying to guess what the book was like from the cover though! And I really hope that Mindy McGinnis will write more in this series because I would love to know what happens to all of these characters next! I will definitely be reading more by Mindy McGinnis either way.