Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd

Title: The Madman's Daughter
Author: Megan Shepherd
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: January 29, 2013
Pages: 432 pages (hardcover)
How I Got the Book: ARC in a swap with a friend
Purchase/Pre-order: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Promotional Materials and More: book trailer | author website

The Madman's Daughter (The Madman's Daughter, #1)In the darkest places, even love is deadly.

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.


This book. Hm... The Madman's Daughter is more than worth some of the hype it's gotten, but readers looking for a story more focused on the horrors of the island and Dr. Moreau's experiments on animals (may as well warn now for animal cruelty and such) than the romance will be disappointed.

Shepherd's lovely, Gothic writing had me from the very first page's descriptions of King's College of Medical Research. Lush as they are, it's easy to get drawn in despite any issues with the content of the story itself. There are only a few occasional snafus, such as a piece on page 265 (ARC) where Juliet says she can hardly think of anything other than Montgomery's kiss and starts thinking of Edward immediately after. Some scenes are genuinely horrifying, such as the rabbit vivisection and the reveal of Dr. Moreau's experiments to Juliet--and I am not an easily horrified reader.

Shepherd even manages to build some serious suspese despite how predictable some twists are. Out of all the twists offered (including one that comes in halfway through the novel and is basically spoiled by the jacket copy), there was only one I didn't predict, but she still kept me on the edge of my seat. Whether the reader is a total unknown to The Island of Dr. Moreau or overly familiar with it, some things are easily seen coming.

Unfortunately, the romance completely takes over the novel from about page seventy. Neither Edward nor Montgomery are particularly interesting, and I have trouble finding things to say about Juliet too. Her connections with both men happen too quickly and with too little development for me to care who she gets with. Juliet has her great moments, but with how often she says she's attracted to/curious about her father's experiments, I don't see her displaying such curiosity often. She'll say she's curious about what her father does to them but then flinches from them.

A rape attempt on Juliet early in the novel, perpetrated by one of the doctors at King's College, makes me more and more uncomfortable the more I think about it. What is its purpose? We are already aware of how little respect women--especially working women--had in the time period in which the story is set. The doctor ogling her in the first place and how the medical students disrespect her makes that clear enough. Getting fired and put out on the streets is enough reason for Juliet to beg Montgomery to let her go to the island with him. I simply fail to see a good reason for its presence in the novel.

The second book of this trilogy will be based on The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, but I'm unsure whether or not I will stick around to read it. Hopefully, it will be more concerned with the story than the romance.

3 stars!

What am I reading next?: Mind Games by Kiersten White