Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Review: The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd

The Madman's Daughter
(The Madman's Daughter #1)
Megan Shepherd
Release: January 29, 2013
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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.

The Madman's Daughter is the first in a young adult series by debut author Megan Shepherd. Admittedly, the beautiful but unusual cover originally drew me in and made me interested in checking this one out. But it was when I read the synopsis and zeroed in on the words "Inspired by H. G. Wells's classic The Island of Dr. Moreau" that I really got excited. I knew that, if done well, this book would be a real treat and an homage to Wells himself.

The book begins in London when we meet Juliette, daughter of the infamous Dr. Moreau who has been ousted from society on the rumors that he was performing illegal acts of medicine and science. After being abandoned, Juliette now lives in poverty in the city. The story starts extremely slowly, building as the plot moves along, but still slow until you've reached the one-third mark. There's time to get to know Juliette and her life in London, time to get to know Montgomery, and then there's an eventual sea voyage. Its these three things that take up the book's first one-third.

If you are interested in this book's topic and can get through that one-third, you will be rewarded on the other side. When Juliette and Montgomery finally reach the island the story really starts. Its difficult enough that Juliette is seeing her bizarre father for the first time in years, but its even worse that they picked up a castaway along the way and brought him with them to the island. From the moment Edward joins the cast of characters you know that there will be a love triangle between Juliette, Montgomery, and Edward.

Both boys have terrible secrets that make them more than just the typical teens in YA fiction. Their dark sides make them more fully fleshed out characters that I could really understand. I found myself liking Montgomery but rooting for Edward since he was kind of the underdog in this particular triangle. And while the triangle is a big part of the plot, it doesn't take over the real heart of the story: Dr. Moreau's creatures and the monster killing people on the island.

This book has a lot of moments that border on horror, and I really appreciated that because good YA horror is kind of hard to find. But, this stays more of a historical fiction with a creepy edge to it. After all, there's a lot going on here: animals who have been surgically turned into humans, gross experiments with even grosser results, and a doctor who thinks of himself as the god of it all.

While the first part of this story moved slowly and the middle part moved at a typical pace, the final part of the book moved at a rip-roaring speed! The attempts at escape, the people dying, and the secrets being revealed - I was getting whiplash and I loved every minute of it! And, oh good lord, the secrets! Some of them I had figured out and some of them I was stunned by. The story finally ends with a sort of cliff hanger that was both sad and made sense. I have no idea how book two will start, but I cannot wait to find out!

Recommended for fans of: The Island of Dr. Moreau, books with a creep factor, love triangles, talking animals, teenage boys with dark secrets, and a father that will make you appreciate your own family.

This review is based on an advance copy of the book, provided by the publisher.

  4 / 5 stars


  1. Hmm I hadn't really thought of reading this one but now I'm going to have to give it a chance since it sounds so awesome. I don't know why but I'm interested in darker books more and more lately.
    Thanks for the great review! :)

  2. This was definitely darker for a YA. It really jumps out and grabs you, especially the second half!!!


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