Title: A Madness So Discreet
Author: Mindy McGinnis
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Release Date: October 6th 2015
Mindy McGinnis’s A Darkness So Discreet You is so beautifully written that it immediately transports the reader to a different time and place. Grace bears the marks of cruelty, from the unspeakable things a close family member did to her to the abuse she endures at the asylum where she has been temporarily committed. Pushed to her limits, Grace has given up hope, ready to embrace the darkness for good. But fate has something else in store for her when she crosses paths with the young, ambitious Dr. Thornhollow. Unsure if she is ready to embrace this new life, Grace has little choice in accepting this new apprenticeship with Thornhollow, helping him investigate and aid the authorities in catching murderers. As much as Grace would like to forget the painful past, especially when she finally feels like she belongs amongst the patients at the asylum Thornhollow oversees, Grace’s own darkness begins to surface as their investigation brings them closer to a serial killer.
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.