Review: A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis

Posted October 25, 2019 by shooting in Book Review / 28 Comments

A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis 

Review by Lauren

source: personal copy – all opinions are my own

Official Summary (add to Goodreads): 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.

Review: A Madness So Discreet is a book I’ve owned since it came out…and which I’d never read. Yeah, story of my life, right there. Thankfully, my YA for Adults book club had this as their pick for October so I was finally given a huge nudge to sit down and finally read this novel. This is a YA novel, but it very much touches on darker topics – nothing terribly graphic, but it definitely shows the rough side of humanity.


This is a great book to read during the Fall, because it is such a darker tale. Plus, there is a murder mystery throughout most of the story, though I wouldn’t say this is strictly a murder mystery. There are some twists and turns along the way. However, I did find the mystery aspect very intriguing and I liked seeing how Dr. Thornhollow’s mind worked in this time period and the types of ideas he put toward trying to solve a crime. It was a little like Stalking Jack the Ripper in that regard.


The setting of an insane asylum was fascinating too. It goes from one in Boston – that has horrific conditions – to one in Ohio that treat their patients with a lot more kindness. I love the friends that Mae made there, but it was heartbreaking to see and hear about those people that were put away in these places that aren’t actually “crazy” at all. Definitely one of those upsetting pieces of history, but it’s still something that should be known.

I had a few issues here and there with the book – and the character of Mae – but overall, I did enjoy this one. It’s certainly a book that can lead to many discussions!

28 responses to “Review: A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis

    • shooting

      I hate when books I let people borrow never come back! But yes, it’s a really good book. I need to read more by her.

  1. This sounds like such an interesting read! Adding it to my to-read list! I’ve watched all the seasons of Criminal Minds available on Netflix and need something new, haha.

  2. Jen

    YA huh?! I think that audience now spans a really large age group these days. That being said, this book sounds really good. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Ooooh. This looks really interesting and yes, perfect for this time of year! I am always fascinated by thrillers / books set in insane asylums (so crazy, some of the horrific things that happened). Will have to add to my list; so curious to know which parts you didn’t really enjoy but will have to finish so we can have that conversation ?

  4. I’ve recently read a couple of books that touched on the horrid conditions of mental asylums from the past, and it was shocking how easy a person could be committed and then basically subjected to tortures thereafter. Women especially were victims because of having limited rights and autonomy in the past. It made me so angry for women back then!

    Glad to hear you finally got to a backlist book and enjoyed it! 🙂

  5. I love the sound of this and have been wanting to try a Mindy McGinnis book for a while! The murder mystery aspect plus the insane asylum setting definitely seems perfect for Halloween!

  6. I have the ebook for this and nope, haven’t read it yet either. I was caught by the setting of the insane asylum, so I am thrilled it was such a good read.

  7. I read this one around when it came out, and it was very shocking to me because younger me did not know about the lobotomising that happened in asylums and I found it all very shocking — even more so when I realised this did happen in history. It definitely is a good autumn read!

    Olivia Roach recently posted: A Dream So Dark [Book Review]

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