Saturday, December 6, 2014

Review: "The Madman's Daughter" by Megan Shepherd


Title: The Madman's Daughter
Author: Megan Shepherd
Genre: YA Historical Thriller
Pages: 420
Publication: January 29, 2013

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.

When it comes to dark and disturbing, this book takes the cake. Or, at least a piece of the cake. Ok. The cake sans the delicious icing. Whatever. What I’m trying to say here is that the plot is gripping and the settings are the stuff of nightmares, but the substance of our protagonist is lacking. Infact, the reader may find that they’re more interested learning about the villain than they are about the protagonist.

Juliet is on a quest. Find her father and discover the truth of what happened all those years ago when Dr. Moreu was cast out of society, labeled a madman, and her entire life fell into the gutter. Literally.

Juliet’s initial goal was the find her father, reunite in a tearful and emotional reunion, and get an explanation for why he’d abandoned her for all these years. Then it becomes “chase the boy”.  It especially becomes “chase the boy” when Juliet finds out her Dad (who I envision looks like Jared Harris) really is certifiable and probably extremely dangerous to boot…. And now she’ s trapped on an island with him and his human-animal hybrid creations. Oops.

Our initial preview of Juliet is that she’s nervous she’s inherited her father’s madness, which certainly would have made her more interesting. To some extent I was eagerly expecting that to be the case. However, mercy killings and a morbid curiosity for the “magical science” that her father was creating wasn’t enough to justify her fears. They seemed to be normal reactions to outrageous situations.  I began to find that the only thing interesting about Juliet Moreu were the characters that surrounded her and her increasingly strained relationship with her nutty as a fruitcake dad.

Not to say that this book wasn’t a spectacular display of disturbing ideas(vivisection?! VIVISECTION?!) and a fascinating storyline. Its saving grace were the weird and endearing island people, the magical-scientific experiments that resulted in human life (but were still gross and… lets face it… totally unethical, man.), and the book gripping suspense.

In all honesty I expect the next installment to present a more interesting and developed Juliet. Now that her entire world has been turned upside down (again) perhaps she’ll finally blossom into the adventurous, wildly intelligent, bad ass girl that I was hoping to see in the first book.

Looking forward to “Her Dark Curiosity”.

Auggie is the 28 year old whirlwind owner of Auggie-Talk, a part-time Reference Librarian with a degree in Anthropology and a nearly completed Masters in Library Science. A bibliobibuli by nature and a (potentially obsessive) lover of Diana Wynne Jones and Neil Gaiman. One can normally find Auggie neck deep in reading, writing, or daydreaming (sometimes all three at once).  She's also been known to drink too much caffeine and eat too many lemon flavored sweets.


  1. I LOVE weird and creepy and dark and twisted! And I've heard that this book definitely supplies that!

    Sad to know that the protagonist isn't too interesting but oh, well. *shrugs* Won't be the first or last time that's happened. I, too, was expecting her to go crazy but apparently she doesn't. Okay, then... *WHY NOT!?!?!?*

    Great Review! Definitely giving this one a try, just waiting for the third book to come out cuz I don't want to face "The Wait of Doom".
    ~Fari 0:)
    A Recent Blog Post: Does the Guilt Crush You? @ My Little Corner For Books (Involves hiccuping chihuahuas, awesomeness/weirdness depending on how you look at it and guilty confessions about DNF-ing books! XD)

    1. "The Wait of Doom"!

      What a great way to describe that awful period of intermission between AWESOME books! I feel that way right now with Alethea Kontis' "Woodcutter Sisters" series.

  2. I have heard a lot of things about this series, and I am actually looking forward to trying it. I am glad that the creepy element to it has been well done and it should spook me out, hopefully. Sometimes I find the villains to be the most interesting as well. It's just a shame that you didn't like the protagonist.