Today for “Readers Write.,” I’m welcoming guest reviewer Becky from the great No More Grumpy Bookseller blog, who’s sharing a review of The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd. Read on for Becky’s review and a chance to win this book.
ABOUT THE MADMAN’S DAUGHTER: 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
A Scene I’d Read Twice:Towards the end of the book, Juliet is locked in Moreau’s lab and discovers some files concerning his experiments. I won’t give anything away, but I loved this scene! It perfectly sets the tone for the rest of the book, what little there is. While Juliet struggles with her relationship with her father and her feelings for him throughout the book, I think it’s at this point that she realizes just how far gone he really is.
I Didn’t Quite Buy: I’d say I didn’t quite buy the whole animals becoming humans part of the experimentation, but in truth I think Shepherd does an amazing job convincing the reader that not only is this possible, but that Moreau has made it happen. It’s been ages since I’ve read the original so I honestly can’t recall how Wells sets this up himself.
The World: The story is set in the late 1800s and takes place mostly in Victorian London and on the island. Shepherd’s London is a dark and dreary place while the island is wild and dangerous and completely remote. I loved it! Overall Shepherd injects a very gothic tone into this very real (for the most part) setting. Shepherd effectively builds a tense and chilling atmosphere that’s steady throughout the story.
The Characters: Juliet Moreau is smart and resourceful. She knows when to keep her head down, but she’s not afraid to speak her mind when it counts – and she’s not afraid to defend herself either, which occasionally gets her in trouble. She also has a strong moral code, one that causes tension with her father.
Montgomery, the handsome assistant, is also very clever but he’s been taking orders from Juliet’s father for years – a point of contention with Juliet who believes Montgomery should stand up for himself. But overall Montgomery seems to be a good guy… or is he?
Edward Prince is a shipwreck survivor Juliet and Montgomery save on their journey back to the island. He’s dark and mysterious, but Juliet finds herself drawn to him nonetheless. He claims to be the son of a wealthy family back in England, but has been traveling after a disagreement with his father. He’s hiding things, but Juliet isn’t sure what.
General Thoughts: I loved Megan Shepherd’s debut. It’s a teen book with a teen protagonist but it’s just as appealing to an adult reader in the mood for something dark and creepy – and the book does in fact get very dark. It was a welcome surprise and definitely appropriately suited to the story as a whole.
I originally thought The Madman’s Daughter was a standalone – apparently it was at the time it was proposed – and I actually liked the ending quite a bit. I’ve since discovered that The Madman’s Daughterhas become the first in a trilogy. This is certainly welcome news as I’m super excited to read more of Juliet’s story!
Thanks, Becky! I like a good gothic tale, and have taken enough of a YA break that I might be ready to try another one.
For Readers Write Giveaways: A commenter today will will a copy of The Madman’s Daughter, or one of the titles from the Book Horde (tab at the top of the page).
Interested in doing a guest review for Preternatura and telling us about a book you love? Email me and let me know. Reviews should be in a speculative fiction genre, and will include a link back to your website or blog.