Monday, October 7, 2013

The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd

Release date: January 29, 2013
Author info: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Pages: 423
Format: Ebook
Source: Purchased
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
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.
Without even intending to do so, I picked up the perfect book for Halloween right at the beginning of October. I've never read The Island of Dr. Moreau, so I didn't have that inherent interest in the story that I do with a lot of retellings, but I found that that probably helped me enjoy this one more. I liked the suspense of not having any idea of what was to come, and the story quickly pulled me in. I didn't intend to read this book so quickly, but I just couldn't stop!

If you're like me and love Gothic novels, of any type, this is the book for you. No, The Madman's Daughter isn't set in an old house or mansion, but Dr. Moreau's island more than makes up for it. The story keeps you on the edge of your seat, wondering what is going to happen next, and you can't help but fear that the monster is just outside your window. Both the polluted London and the humid island are unforgettable locations and both hold secrets that Juliet must uncover, and I couldn't tell you which one I'd rather explore first.

I've gotta warn those of you who care that there is a love triangle going on, if you didn't know already. I know a lot of people run screaming for the hills at the mention of a love triangle, but let me tell you why this one might not bother you so much--though if it's something you just can't stand, you still won't like it here. Fair warning. First, each boy, Montgomery and Edward, represents either side of the choice Juliet must make--to venture back into the civilized world and a "normal" future, or to embrace who she is and always has been and to live a life that will be far from ordinary. Each has its value, and Juliet sees that, so she has a hard time choosing. At the same time, she really does know what she truly wants, but she takes a while to decide because she knows she should want the other. The triangle isn't arbitrary and is resolved in this book (or at least I'm pretty sure it is). Neither is inherently better than the other; both have flaws and don't make the best decisions all of the time. I certainly was rooting for one over the other the entire time, but I could still see why Juliet would be indecisive, and it didn't bother me.

Now Juliet is not your simpering society girl either. She certainly was brought up to be so, but she has never felt at home in that role. The darkness of her father lies within somewhere and Juliet knows that it's going to come out and play one day. She's had her share of hardships, but she never lets that defeat her. Instead she goes to work and is honestly tougher than you could ever expect. Juliet is not the only character that is well-drawn. I don't think I found a character that I didn't find compelling in some way. I especially felt for Balthazar and Alice and liked seeing them imbued with so much soul.

My only complaint is that the romance really took the front seat when I wanted the creepy island and the potential major gore to drive the story. Juliet needed to spend a little less time dreaming about boys and more worrying about her situation. I think I could've given this five stars had the romance been cut some. It made the middle a bit slow. BUT, both the beginning and the end are fantastic.

With the ending of this book, I kind of wanted to hurl something across the room, only because of its perfection. (I know that doesn't make sense, but it's true.) There is quite a lot of potential in this series to become a favorite of mine if the next two books build on what was written here. I loved the overall tone, world, and characters, and I can't wait to see what Megan Shepherd does with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde!

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