G race 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.
Grace Mae knows madness.
This is highly exaggerated, because Grace Mae knows trauma. Not madness.
A Madness So Discreet was one of my most-anticipated novels of this year because Mindy McGinnis wrote it. If you have been following my blog for a bit, or know me outside of the internet, you would know that I LOVED the Not a Drop to Drink novels and that Mindy McGinnis earned herself a spot on my favorite authors list. So I did my touchdown dance when I saw her newest novel in my mailbox after a long day of work.
Sadly, I was dissatisfied with the novel because of the “story,” for lack of a better term. The novel opens up inside an asylum in the Massachusetts Bay area during what seems to be the mid-1800s. Grace Mae lived among the aristocracy, a well-wrought women brought up in a caged society and a brutal home life. Let’s just say I found the main plot line predictable, the middle sub-plot (if I should even call it such a thing) left me yawning, and the ending unsatisfying. So here I will provide 5 things that could have made A Madness So Discreet a stronger novel:
1. A more likable main character.
Grace had some strength going for her, yet the connection that I was looking for from a woman taken advantage of, in need of revenge, and compiled as “mad” did not fit the tone of the novel, nor it’s projected story. Grace turned out to be very trusting of the people around her rather than what I would have expected of a young woman put in a number of traumatic situations. Her actions, attitudes, and priorities were swayed and unrealistic. She was quite dull from the powerhouse, feminist female protagonists that I was used to McGinnis bringing out in her novels.
2. World-of-story was all over the place.
We’re in one asylum one minute, on the road the next. In another asylum where Grace is able to move freely among the public, murders and Grace is taking part in a Sherlock Holmes investigation case? Politics. People dying left and right. Court cases. I don’t understand what the point of the murders are in relation to Grace and her revenge.
3. More Asylum.
This book is about Grace in an asylum. Keep her there. Solve mysteries inside the asylum or something. Have her struggle to get out of the asylum, something to keep the novel interesting. Keep it constant.
4. Girl power.
I thought it would be pretty cool of Grace to rely on herself more rather than the men around her. We see the gears of feminism turning slowly in the beginning of the novel, and more-so when Grace’s intellect is touched upon rather than her becoming beauty. But I wanted to see Grace do more, react more, fight more.
5. Our asylum friend in the shadows.
Grace gets out way to quick to further develop any cordial relations with Falsteed (whose name always reminds me of Falstaff from Shakespeare’s Henry IV), but he is absolutely the most intriguing character of this entire novel, and we lose touch with him after Grace makes it out of the asylum early on in the novel. We only hear about him through a series of letters that Grace writes, but other than that, we lose a wonderful chance at understanding and loving a flawed and complex character for a weak chance at plot development.
I expected a much stronger story from Mindy McGinnis, and even though her newest book does not live up to the expectations that the Not a Drop to Drink series left, I will try some of her other novels that she will hopefully be writing down the road.