Friday, June 6, 2014

Review: The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd

The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd
Book One of The Madman's Daughter series
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: January 29, 2013
Rating: 3 stars
Source: ARC won from a giveaway

Summary (from Goodreads):

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.

What I Liked:

Well, this book was not what I expected. I remember exactly what I thought when I finished it several hours ago - that wasn't so bad! I read many negative reviews about this book, and those reviews turned me off. Needless to say, I still gave this book a shot, because I have a copy of it, and book two! This book wasn't amazing, but I certainly didn't hate it (like I thought I would).

Juliet has been living the life of a lady fallen on hard times, ever since her father died, and her mother died shortly after. Years later, she still works as a maid at King's College. She knows a little about medicine, so when she stumbles upon students doing a vivisection, she is horrified. Not only is she disgusted, but she is surprised to see that on the bottom of a diagram of the vivisection is her father's name. Then she stumbles upon Montgomery, who used to be her family's servant's son. Suddenly, Juliet's life has changed drastically, and she's aboard a ship with Montgomery, heading to her father's island. Yep, her father is alive, and his work isn't exactly... ethical. Throw in a random castaway, Edward, and we've got quite a story.

One thing that I would like to GUSH about is the writing. Oh my gosh, the writing in this book is stunning. I can't quite explain it - it's lyrical, almost. Shepherd has an excellent writing style, and every now and then, I'd physically stop reading to appreciate a line or two. The imagery, the descriptions, the dialogue - so well-written, so put-together.

The story is so strange. Some call it creepy, and I can totally see that. Vivisection is the process of dissecting something while it is still alive - creepy, no? A lot of that happens in this book. SO MUCH CREEPINESS. Doctor Moreau really is insane, and his work is horrifying. Yet, it's brilliant. I would never, ever want anything like what he was doing to be done, but his work is brilliant. Terrifyingly so.

Once Juliet is on the island, it's not hard to figure out what is going on. Things aren't necessarily predictable, but you can generally figure out what will happen, and what Doctor Moreau is doing. But Shepherd keeps things very interesting - especially for such a "long" book. She keeps things creepy, too. Every time Julie went into the jungle, I feared for her. I held onto the book for dear life!

I thought I would hate Juliet, mostly because of what I'd heard about the romance. Much to my surprise, I didn't hate her. I'll get to the romance later, but as far as I can tell so far, she's a likable heroine. A tiny bit anachronistic, but that's understandable, since she's not a lady anymore.

I really like Edward, and I really like Montgomery - as CHARACTERS though, not necessarily as love interests. Montgomery is flawed and damaged, but his heart is so good. Edward, well, he is damaged as well, but he's not an ideal, um, person. As a love interest, I'm not a huge fan of Edward. I LOVE Montgomery, as a protagonist, and as a love interest. 

Read on, for dislikes! There were several.

What I Did Not Like:

The romance is going in the dislike category, because yes, there is a love triangle in this book. I hate love triangles, and I especially hate how Shepherd forced this one in there. Why can't we just have Montgomery? Why is Edward a factor? Can't Edward have a platonic friendship with Juliet? How and why did he instantly fall in love with Juliet? Ugh. Team Montgomery. I liked the passion between Montgomery and Juliet, but it seemed like that same passion existed between Edward and Juliet, which I didn't like. It was almost like the chemistry was interchangeable, between the two men. The difference was that I liked seeing it with Montgomery, but not with Edward. With Edward, things seemed weird.

So the romance lost this book a couple stars. Romance is important, even when it doesn't seem important.

I'm struggling a little bit with the science behind Doctor Moreau's creations. I don't really understand how any of it is possible - it's hard to picture, and to wrap my head around. How does combining a bunch of random things make what he was making? Sorry, I'm trying to be vague, so as not to spoil anything. I'm a student of science, and I need a little more in terms of explanations and evidence, to really believe what Doctor Moreau was doing was physically possible.

The ending is going in the dislike category. Not going to lie, I flat-out hated it. Thank goodness I have the sequel on my bookshelf over there somewhere. But then, is the sequel also going to have such an ending? Because the third book comes out in January 2015. That's a long time from now.

Would I Recommend It:

Hmmm, a tough one. If you weren't dying to read it, then don't read it. If you have a copy, give it a shot. If you love gothic historical fiction, definitely read it. The writing style is so so so good - the best aspect of the book. And in my opinion, the creep factor is pretty big. The romance is a bit disappointing, because I hate love triangles, but we'll see about book two.


3 stars. Right in the middle. I hope book two will be better. I'm not totally convinced though, because like with book one, I've heard awful things about book two. I'm still going to read it. *braces self*

Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!


  1. I read this one myself back around March and I feel the same! Except I think I didn't like so much was because I couldn't connect with the characters or like them too much.

    The science of things didn't bother me as much as it did you because I'm so used to that sort of thing being looked over. (And now that I've started trying to plan my own OCs I can sort of see why authors do what they do).

    The romance in this one was SO off to me though, I understood why Juliet would have feelings for both of them, but at that intensity? Not really! Then again, I guess being scared for your life (and the lives of others) could heighten emotions and hormones and all that.

    But in the end, I definitely didn't like the book enough to make it a favorite or prioritize the sequel (though I own a copy). Great review!

    1. I'm glad I'm not the only one who thought so! And the romance probably bothered me the most. It felt a lot like the good old Twilight trope - and believe it or not, I don't compare many books to the Twilight books.

      I'm going to read the sequel, but I share your sentiment. It wasn't a priority when the publisher sent me a review copy last year D:

  2. I sooo agree with your review! I loved the writing and the atmostphere of the book, and didn't dislike Juliet that much, except when it came to the romance and her attitude towards the two guys... It simply irritated me to no end!!

    I'll wait for you to read the sequel before I read it, I've read quite a few reviews that talk about the romance, and I think it'd keep on bothering me...

    Thanks for a very honest review as always, Alyssa!

    1. The romance is a sticking point O_O And I'll be your filter! I've been fairly warned about the romance in book two as well - not going to lie, it sounds pretty bad D: You're very welcome - thank YOU, Pili!

  3. I agree - I enjoyed this book, but definitely didn't love it. I was also aggravated with the ending - and I think I would have liked it better if it had just ended like that with no sequel. Which is really weird because I generally hate open-ended endings, so I can't really explain why I feel that way - guess it just seemed like a way to draw the story out. I'm interested to see what you think of book 2 though.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    1. Hmm, that's a good point, about the ending. It would make the novel so TRAGIC :D I'm the same way, I hate open endings, but a tragic open ending in this book would have worked.

      Thank you for your interest, Nicole! It means a lot :)

  4. That love triangle, right?? Sadly, it continues in the second book. I think it's pretty well resolved for the third, but honestly she could change that up. But the ending of the second one is fantastic! I didn't care about the rest once the ending happened. :) The science really is kind of muddy, and I wonder if it's ever explained much in The Island of Dr. Moreau.

    The writing is still wonderful in the sequel, so you've got that to look forward to at least, even if you hate the triangle, because oh the triangle.

    1. OMG. A resolved love triangle by the end of book two?! Good. I'm glad to hear that. And I kind of want to check out the original story, to do some comparisons. I'm so glad to hear that the writing is still amazing, and that you like book two's ending! You're definitely encouraging me in the right direction, it seems :D *swats at the love triangle*

  5. Amazing review sweetie. <3 Thank you for sharing and being honest. When I read this book I really loved it. But looking back now? Not so much. STUPID LOVE TRIANGLE. I am never ever reading the sequel. I now everything that happens. I will never read it. Seriously. Heartbeak and stupid. Not for me :( So sad, though. Sigh. ANYWAY. Montgomery! I loved him so much :)

    1. Yeah, that love triangle kind of killed it a little. Definitely Montgomery for the win! And I've seen your tweets about Her Dark Curiosity, which is one of the reasons why I'm apprehensive. I'm still going to read it :o


I love comments! I will always try and reply to your comments, as well as leave some comment love on your blog! :)

Also, this an award and tag free blog. While I am flattered that you would think of me, I really do not have the time to follow up. Thank you!