Book: The Madman’s Daughter
Author: Megan Shephard
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 fits firmly into the Victorian Gothic thriller category. I haven’t read Frankenstein, but I have a feeling I know what inspired this book. There’s an authentic, creepy, mad-scientist feel to the book. The setting of the book- a strange island contributes largely to it as well as the inhabitants of the island- one very insane but brilliant scientist and a group of deformed villagers who chant a set of commandments given to them by the aforementioned scientist.
The book doesn’t immediately begin on an island. Instead, we’re shown the miserable circumstances that have been thrust upon Juliet, the protagonist of the book. Her unhappy circumstances have made her bitter, cynical and not at all squeamish but she still won’t tolerate vivisection- that’s the live dissection of living animals. I think I really started to admire her when she cut off the head of a rabbit. That may sound horrendous to you, but trust me, it was a compassionate and brave thing to do. Throughout the book, she proves her compassion and bravery by standing up to her father repeatedly (when no else seems willing to). At the same time she’s not afraid of getting her hands dirty.
However, she tends to be a little judgemental ( I guess that fits in with the time period). That got onto my nerves a little bit, along with her constant reference to God (I’m openly agnostic.)
Her father was an amazingly written character. I’ve heard he’s borrowed from a H G Wells book but Megan Shephard does a good job portraying him. He’s a brilliant scientist but…well let’s say that if his morals were fairly standard in scientists back then, I can see why those from the Victorian era didn’t trust them. At all. Chauvinistic, deluded and almost sociopathic- It was hard to see what Juliet ever saw in him. But that was the point.
The weakest part of the book was the romance. It was a poorly executed love triangle in which the two candidates for Juliet’s heart – Montgomery and Edward – were presented as complete opposites: the gentlemen vs the bad boy. <sarcastically> Original isn’t it?
I could have dealt with the trope if the characters were interesting enough but they were actually remarkably similar. The things they said…their main objectives- well, they weren’t too different. I guess Juliet thought they were pretty interchangeable too. Juliet’s mind jumped frequently from one to the other and back again. One minute she was thinking about Montgomery’s musculature and the next she had moved onto Edward’s charisma. Sometimes in sentences following each other!
If the romance was the worst part, than the best part was the action. Like I’ve previously mentioned, none of the characters were afraid to get their hands bloody- both figuratively and literally. The book was full of twists I so did not see coming. I think I spent a good quarter of the book gasping and shaking my head at the fact that I didn’t see what was going on.
The ending is not a Happy Ever After (thank god, I am so done with them). But like the other twists and turns in the book, I so did not see that coming. I’ll give you a huge hint: One of the love interests are insane.
The book deals with themes that are pretty relevant today: How love can be blind to insanity, humanity, the morality of science and genetic modifications. I’d definitely recommend it to anyone over the age of 13. Especially, if you don’t mind love triangles too much but if you love gothic, terrifying, steam-punkish books.
Overall Rating: 3.5/5
Would I read another Megan Shephard book: Probably, but she’s not on my automatic to-read list yet.
Books like this: The Beautiful and the Cursed by Page Morgan, Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge