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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

MICHELLE'S REVIEW: The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd

Title: The Madman's Daughter
Author: Megan Shepherd
Format Acquired: Hardcover
Publication Date: January 29, 2013
Publishing House: Balzer + Bray
ISBN: 97680062128027
Source of Copy: Purchased from Fully Booked


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 leans 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 the chaos, she discovers the extent of her father's genius - and madness - in her own blood.

(Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; Summary lifted from actual book)


It's not hard to fall in immediate lust with The Madman's Daughter. It's got a fantastic sinister-looking cover, and a compelling summary involving experimentation. In fact, I've been coveting this Gothic historical fantasy and science fiction novel for since the last quarter of 2012, and the only reason I've been so delayed with reading it was because the bookstore ran out of hardcovers, and I couldn't bring myself to settle for a paperback. You can probably gauge for yourself how high my expectations were for this one.

When rumors of her father's grim expertise sets the tongues of London a-wagging and the reputation of her family in tatters, Juliet has no qualms about ditching London to find her father as soon as she finds more about his whereabouts. But it seemed that destiny has a different fate in mind for her, because she happens to chance upon one of her father's illustrations - and that could only mean one thing: her father is alive. Juliet thinks that Montgomery's apprehension about her coming to the island is laughable, but it is only because she doesn't know that there is a monster committing terrible and unspeakable crimes on the island. The only question is which is the real monster.

One thing I do like about Juliet is how she's so clinical when it comes to bodies and blood. (Yes, me and my gore, I know.) It's fascinating how she's picked up terms from her dad and how totally nonsensical she is when faced with all these things that women back then would have undoubtedly fainted from. Aside from that however, Juliet's a pretty decent character, which is to say that she isn't the type you would completely empathize with, but you won't be so quick as to want to kill off from the get-go. The girl wants to find her Dad, her last family member - hey, I get it - even if he isn't the affectionate kind. I mean, most of the time, it doesn't even seem like he has any semblance of human feeling. But what I don't get with Juliet is her attraction with Edward on the side. I get why she still has feelings for Montgomery: he was her first crush, and they did spend an awful lot of time together before. But Edward? He's a castaway, and here comes Juliet, already barreling to protect him from who knows what. There are also instances where I did feel that Juliet was a bit slow, but I could kind of understand her difficulties a little.

If there's anything I am utterly in love with in The Madman's Daughter though, it is undoubtedly Shepherd's setting. I could easily immerse myself in the settings she has written out for London and the remote island. I could taste the grit, watch the blood ooze, and envision the lushness of the greenery. I just love it when books have that way of transporting you into a totally different world without difficulty on the reader's part. I do also love how this novel does have horror in it, so in a way, I guess you could say that some of my expectations were met. I actually wanted more drama, more heart-pounding horror, and more evil things that go bump in the night, but The Madman's Daughter is a pretty good shot in the historical fiction x horror category.

While I will find myself putting on my t0-buy list the next installment, Her Dark Curiosity, I don't really see the need for having a second book. Shepherd could wrap this one up and you wouldn't catch me screaming bloody murder. I guess you could say that I am going to be picking up the next book, if only to stave off what appears to be my dark curiosity. If you like Gothic historical fiction with a dash of horror, you might want to try this one. But if you don't mind not having much of romance and are looking into this one because of the lure of horror, you might want to check out Rick Yancey's The Monstrumologist books instead. 


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