Tag Archives: Gothic

A Madness So Discreet – Mindy McGinnis

A Madness So Discreet – Mindy McGinnisTitle: A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis
Publishing Info: October 6, 2015 by HarperCollins
Genres: Historical Fiction, Psych/Mental Health, Mystery/Thriller, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: August 29, 2015
Related Posts: The Female of the Species, This Darkness Mine

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.
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.


** Word of warning that I WILL be talking about some minor spoilers for the book. It’s nothing that will give plot or twists away but I will be discussing character relationships, the nature of some which are not revealed until later on in the book. ** 

How amazing is the cover for this book!? As soon as I saw it, I immediately knew I had to read it… BUT this book had a serious case of “misleading cover”! From the look of it and the title, I went into the book thinking it was going to be creepy, paranormal, and take place mostly with the mental patients within a very scary institution (we all know how much I avoid the synopsis right before I start)… and while some of that was indeed true, A MADNESS SO DISCREET turned out to be much more historical fiction meets murder mystery than creepy psych hospital!

A MADNESS SO DISCREET took me a little bit to get into, but once I found out that it was more murder mystery, I was all on board! The beginning started out a bit slow and confusing for me as I was trying to get a grasp on what the deal with the mental hospital was. Readers are thrown right into Grace’s story with little introduction of who she is and why she’s there so I was getting to know Grace as I was getting to know the setting which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but for some reason with this particular book, it was a bit confusing trying to get a read on both.
There were a few hints at some extra-sensory abilities from fellow inmates so I was anticipating that playing a bigger role than it did (especially with the creepy hand reaching out on the cover!) but after finishing the story, I wonder if that was just more of an “illness” thing than actual ability. The confusing part was that the inmate’s ability was accurate so the lack of presence of this character and seemingly realistic powers throughout the book sort of felt like a waste of a mention.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about all of the other things I really enjoyed, which was a lot! I really enjoyed the historical setting. I’m not usually a historical fiction person but I usually do love a gothic horror feel and that always draws my attention. I really got the feeling like I was thrown back in time to where this book was taking place and felt totally immersed in the time period, the setting, and the characters. The setting especially was so vivid and so well done. I really felt like I could picture so many of the locations and the overall tone was consistent and gave a really nice gothic horror feel!

I also really enjoyed the character relationships. Grace Mae actually wasn’t my favorite character of the book and neither was Dr. Thornhollow (it was Nell!) but I just loved the way that they worked together and how much they trusted each other. It was interesting to see how similar they thought and formed ideas and I thought they made a great team. I thought it was great that they had a sort of chemistry going on and they seemed to have somewhat of an attraction but it wasn’t forced into being a relationship. As of right now, MADNESS is definitely a stand alone, but if the series continued, I think I’d enjoy seeing that relationship develop! Because of the circumstances, it didn’t quite make sense or feel right to have those two characters romantically involved but I like the idea that it sets up for a future for them should they wish to pursue it.
Grace also a had a great friendship with her fellow institution gals that I just loved. I immediately warmed to Nell and she became my favorite and I loved how she and Elizabeth really took Grace under their wings. The friendship was just delightful to witness and I grew really attached to those girls.

I also really enjoyed the mystery aspect! I always feel like there’s a lack of young adult mysteries and I just love how this pieced together in a historical setting. There were some nice clues, great teamwork, and some interesting suspense! The only complaint is not the lack of twist but lack of anticipation of the murderer’s capture. I don’t really need a twist in all of my mysteries (though they are fun) but I thought it ended rather quickly and easily. While that may have been a realistic conclusion, I think I would have appreciated a bit more storytelling as far as wrapping that mystery up.

There is one more thing I have to touch upon before I close out the review that I think I just can’t pass up and it was something I battled with the whole book… The whole incest thing really was hard for me to read. If I had known it was a part of the book, I’m honestly not sure I would have read it and I really think it hindered my reading experience. It’s just something that I find truly appalling and my brain tends to immediately turn off not just from the offending character but from the whole book. There’s a sort of cloud that sits over the whole book and it was just really hard to get over. I’m not saying it’s something that shouldn’t be talked about, but for me personally, it just really creates an “ick factor” for the whole book. It does make the offending character that much more of a monster and that much more “hateable” but I couldn’t shake that overall gross feeling because it’s actually a consistent part of the book.

A MADNESS SO DISCREET was a really enjoyable read for me and I was left wanting so much more of this world! I think in part because I took a while to feel out the characters and I also think I’d enjoy another book in this world without the constant reappearance of incest hanging over it. I’d love to see Grace and Thornhollow solving more mysteries or even something else taking place in the asylum. I just loved the atmosphere and would love to spend more time in it but even if this is the last we see of MADNESS, it won’t be the last I see of Mindy McGinnis! Now I have to worked my way backwards and read her previous works!


“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

a madness so discreet goodreads updates


Grace // Character Obsessions: Survival, revenge, resolutions, justice.
I actually didn’t connect with Grace a lot. I guess it’s hard since she’s kind of closed off, given what she’s been through, and she was actively shutting herself down in the very beginning. Even after she started opening up more, I didn’t quite make a connection to her, though I appreciated her goals (I was on her side, of course) and thought she was interesting to get to know!
Dr. Thornhollow // Character Obsessions: Science, medicine, mysteries.
I would love to learn so much more about Thornhollow. He was so interesting and intelligent and I wished I could have gotten to know him better! I wonder what things would be like from his POV…


Kept Me Hooked On: Historical Fiction. It’s always great when I can find a historical fiction novel that I enjoy. It’s not my genre of choice so I’m so glad I found another one that I just fell into!
Left Me Wanting More: Personality. I think I was drawn to the characters who were more outwardly emotional. Nell was very outgoing and she was my favorite, but I dare anyone not to like her! She was fantastic. I think Grace is just more reserved, as is Thornhollow, so it was a bit harder to get to know their true personalities.

Addiction Rating
Read it

I had a lot of fun with this one! The atmosphere was great, the plot was interesting, and it felt like a pretty quick and fun read while at the same time staying a little dark.



(Click the cover to see my review!)

BORN    The Madman’s Daughter (The Madman’s Daughter #1) – Megan Shepherd

Unspoken (The Lynburn Legacy #1) – Sarah Rees Brennan

Unspoken (The Lynburn Legacy #1) – Sarah Rees BrennanTitle: Unspoken (The Lynburn Legacy #1) by Sarah Rees Brennan
Publishing Info: September 11, 2012 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: Edelweiss
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: July 19, 2014
Related Posts: The Demon's Lexicon (The Demon's Lexicon #1)

    Kami Glass loves someone she’s never met . . . a boy she’s talked to in her head ever since she was born. She wasn’t silent about her imaginary friend during her childhood, and is thus a bit of an outsider in her sleepy English town of Sorry-in-the-Vale. Still, Kami hasn’t suffered too much from not fitting in. She has a best friend, runs the school newspaper, and is only occasionally caught talking to herself. Her life is in order, just the way she likes it, despite the voice in her head.
    But all that changes when the Lynburns return.
    The Lynburn family has owned the spectacular and sinister manor that overlooks Sorry-in-the-Vale for centuries. The mysterious twin sisters who abandoned their ancestral home a generation ago are back, along with their teenage sons, Jared and Ash, one of whom is eerily familiar to Kami. Kami is not one to shy away from the unknown—in fact, she’s determined to find answers for all the questions Sorry-in-the-Vale is suddenly posing. Who is responsible for the bloody deeds in the depths of the woods? What is her own mother hiding? And now that her imaginary friend has become a real boy, does she still love him? Does she hate him? Can she trust him?


I’ve been meaning to read UNSPOKEN for quite some time. I actually purchased it based on some great reviews a while back but somehow got pushed to the side time after time until we finally decided to pick it up as a group read for On the Same Page!

UNSPOKEN just felt like a me book. I instantly connected with it, I think in part because the characters are just so wonderful. Kami was such a delight. I loved her humor and really every aspect of her character and the detective/reporter side of her personality really allowed her to push the plot along and dig deeper where the more faint of heart would shy away. Kami’s interactions with everyone, really, are just fantastic. She’s a very dynamic character but so her friends and family and it’s so wonderful to see these characters play off of each other and really help each character develop. And Jared… Jared was awesome in a different way. Moody. Broody. Quite the opposite of Kami at times, but they have such a history — well, their whole lives, really — that it’s wonderful to observe and experience their connection.

I think the great thing about UNSPOKEN was that I was never really quite sure what was going to happen. Sure, I had some expectations and I had my guesses but I guess I felt like anything could conceivably happen at any point in time and I loved that there seemed to be endless possibilities when mysteries arose. I had a few twists sneak up on me that I didn’t expect. I like to go into books blind and I think I really allowed myself to enjoy this one to its fullest potential by doing that with UNSPOKEN.

Everything about the book really just came alive while reading! The secondary characters really helped shape the story and add to the atmosphere with each personality and side story really showing without stealing the spotlight. The setting in the book seemed to come alive as well. There was a definite ambiance and I loved how everything came together to feel incredibly cohesive. Several little questions pop up throughout the book to keep that underlying mystery and sense of wonder (and a little bit of creepiness) running throughout the whole book and even when things are resolved… They’re not. I had heard several reactions of surprise surrounding the ending and now I understand why! It definitely made me want to pick up the next book right away!


“The View from Goodreads” is a new featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!




Kami // Character Obsessions: Reporting, detective work, Jared.
See, normally when I include a boy in the obsession list, it’s because of a love interest… and that’s not to say FEELINGS don’t arise, but Kami and Jared have this connection… They’ve just always been inside each other’s heads so it’s almost not just an obsession with Jared but a need to have him there. When he’s not there, it’s like a piece of Kami is missing. Totally cool.
I also just loved her personality. She was so fun and spunky. I always appreciate when humor and sarcasm are woven in between dark and spooky.
Jared // Character Obsessions: Brooding, Kami, riding his motorcycle.
Woo, Jared! I loved his brooding. There were just a few things that totally floored me, not to mention the awesome chemistry he has with Kami. I definitely loved him! Always a sense of mystery with that boy…


Kept Me Hooked On: Gothic horror. A bit paranormal with a gothic feel…  I totally loved it. The FEEL of the book was one of the things that really hooked me throughout and made me fall in love with it!
Left Me Wanting More: Family history. Everything was really perfectly laid out, but I was just craving that family history the whole book! Although that was something that definitely had me turning the pages so I’m certainly not complaining! I can only assume we’ll be getting more of that in book two as well.

Addiction Rating
Read It!

This book was so enjoyable. I really loved the overall feel and that just totally sucked me in. The characters were so strong too and only enhanced the book even more!



(Click the cover to see my review!)

    fairytales for wilde girls allyse near  born wicked Jessica spotswood


This review was a part of the On the Same Page feature for July! Don’t miss the other two posts featuring UNSPOKEN from Alyssa and Amy!

The Madman’s Daughter (The Madman’s Daughter #1) – Megan Shepherd

The Madman’s Daughter (The Madman’s Daughter #1) – Megan ShepherdTitle: The Madman's Daughter (The Madman's Daughter #1) by Megan Shepherd
Publishing Info: January 29, 2013 by HarperCollins
Source: Won
Genres: Historical Fiction, Horror, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: January 10, 2013
Related Posts: Her Dark Curiosity (The Madman's Daughter #2)

    Sixteen-year-old Juliet Moreau has built a life for herself in London—working as a maid, attending church on Sundays, and trying not to think about the scandal that ruined her life. After all, no one ever proved the rumors about her father's gruesome experiments. But when she learns he is alive and continuing his work on a remote tropical island, she is determined to find out if the accusations are true.
Accompanied by her father's handsome young assistant, Montgomery, and an enigmatic castaway, Edward—both of whom she is deeply drawn to—Juliet travels to the island, only to discover the depths of her father's madness: He has experimented on animals so that they resemble, speak, and behave as humans. And worse, one of the creatures has turned violent and is killing the island's inhabitants. Torn between horror and scientific curiosity, Juliet knows she must end her father's dangerous experiments and escape her jungle prison before it's too late. Yet as the island falls into chaos, she discovers the extent of her father's genius—and madness—in her own blood.
Inspired by H. G. Wells's classic The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Madman's Daughter is a dark and breathless Gothic thriller about the secrets we'll do anything to know and the truths we'll go to any lengths to protect.


Hrrmmmmm. *looks up The Island of Dr. Moreau* OHHHHH. Okay. So I knew this was a re-telling of The Island of Dr. Moreau BUT I was a silly girl and had no idea what it was about. Well. Same story, but substitute teenage girl as the protagonist.

Okay, now that I know what the story is actually about (since I’m stubborn and also refuse to read summaries before I pick up books), “gothic thriller” was an entirely accurate description in every way. I was definitely thrilled and totally sucked in for the main action sequences and almost the entire novel. Want to hear something stupid? I had no idea this book was about Dr. Moreau turning animals into humans because I DON’T READ SUMMARIES!! Ahhh. But that’s also a good thing because otherwise I might not have picked the book up (although I won it in a giveaway so that’s irrelevant, but you get the point).

NOW. Vivisection? Not entirely convinced of the procedures to make this happen. Tell me more science behind this so I understand. How exactly DO you take a dog and a bear, combine them, and come out with something that resembles a human? What kinds of drugs keeps them in a humanlike form? That’s where I lost a little on the rating system. Maybe it was just a bit too gruesome to describe all that in a YA novel, but I need a bit more convincing of the science behind it because I was still doubting the possibility instead of simply being fascinated.

ALSO. Enough with the love triangle! It was okay at first but then Juliet got annoying and she (Juliet) was practically making it a love square in her own mind. Take it easy, woman! Let the two boys fight over you and then decide which one you want. And don’t jump back and forth between them.

Okay, I know that’s a lot of complaining, but I did enjoy it a lot! I just had to air out my complaints before finally settling on my overall opinion. It was really quite exciting, dark, and thrilling! I’d definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a thriller/horror story of the unusual sort. I was honestly racing through the book, flipping through the pages, biting my nails – it was a breath-taking story that had me so anxious to see how it ended!

BUT. How excited am I that it’s a trilogy? Not very. This would have been a great stand alone. Will I still read the other books in the trilogy? You bet!

character_breakdown1Juliet Moreau: I liked Juliet well enough, but towards the end when she was caught up in her love triangle, I got a but frustrated. She was such a strong character, fighting for herself, standing up against society, and then when it came to boys, she turned all hot and bothered and flustered. I just thought it conflicted a little and it was a little disappointing to see.
Dr. Henri Moreau: Oooh definitely creepy. Hands down has my vote for one of the creepiest villains of 2013 novels – And yes, I feel confident saying that in January.
Montgomery AND Edward: So I kind of feel the same about both of the romantic interests. I kept going back and forth, hot and cold, and couldn’t decide which one I liked better, never really committing to either one (probably because Juliet didn’t either!) until we finally come to the end and Juliet finds herself in a situation which pushes her to decide. Hmm. I just wish I had stronger feelings about either one!  


Try it

I wasn’t totally crazy for this one and clearly there were a few things that bothered me a lot… but I also did still enjoy it. It was an interesting retelling (you know… once I know the premise of the original) and I really enjoyed the gothic horror feel!