A Madness So Discreet

A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis, Katherine Tegen Books, 2015. ISBN: 9780062320865. Reviewed by John R, Clark, MLIS.


If ever there was an innocent victim, Grace Mae would fit the description. Older daughter of a wealthy and prominent Boston family, she finds herself pregnant (by her own father)and locked away in an insane asylum. She’s to remain until after the child is born, then return home where she’ll be expected to act as though nothing happened. The experience has left her so shocked, she’s ceased speaking.

When her voice returns during a violent outburst, she’s banished to the dark cellar where she befriends a brilliant but insane doctor. It’s that friendship that saves her as he convinces another doctor to spirit her from the asylum after her death has been faked instead of performing a chilling operation.

They flee to a far more humane asylum in Ohio, where she settles in as a mostly mute inmate and the doctor treats the patients. However, he has a fascination with criminal psychology and solving murders. Grace’s sharp mind and observation skills make her the perfect assistant.

How a young woman who has experienced such treatment with literally no recourse, given the times, could find some sense of peace and meaning makes the story very compelling. To go into more detail might spoil what is a riveting and intense tale. Yes, it’s dark and there is violence, but both are integral to the story. Teens and adults who like mystery and historical fiction with riveting characters will enjoy this book a lot.


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Filed under Fiction, Grade 10-12

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