The Madman's Daughter (The Madman's Daughter #1)FeaturedHot
Juliet is accompanied by the doctor’s handsome young assistant and an enigmatic castaway, who both attract Juliet for very different reasons. They travel to the island only to discover the depths of her father’s madness: he has created animals that have been vivisected to resemble, speak, and behave as humans. Worse, one of the creatures has turned violent and is killing the island’s inhabitants. Juliet knows she must end her father’s dangerous experiments and escape the island, even though her horror is mixed with her own scientific curiosity. As the island falls into chaos, she discovers the extent of her father’s genius—and madness—in her own blood.
I hardly know where to start gushing about this book. Full disclosure: I'm a huge fan of classic Gothic novels! THE MADMAN'S DAUGHTER (a retelling of Wells' The Island of Dr. Moreau) reads like a classic Gothic novel but with more relatable characters for the modern reader. This book has to be taken as a whole, not broken into bits and pieces, because it is a surreal, tense, dark experience from the first word to the very last.
Let's start with the setting. Absolutely perfect. And I don't just mean the time period. I mean Juliet's job at King's College, where she works as a maid at the beginning of the book, to the ship she travels on to get to her missing father, to the island of lush beauty and horrific terrors--all of it works on every level. The setting is a character in the book, and it adds to the atmospheric tension that pervades every page.
The characters are exactly what a Gothic novel needs. Secretive, damaged, pawns and predators ... and all of them seen through the eyes of Juliet, who is a flawed narrator (as all of us are) because of her background, her emotional wounds and fears, and her terrible certainty that the insanity that grips her father is coming for her next. I especially enjoyed Juliet's intense scientific curiosity, and her unflinching courage. She's a heroine worth rooting for.
We see the two boys who are interested in Juliet from her eyes only, and so we get them in glimpses and pieces as they stand out to her or as they come in contact with her. It isn't the simple, straightforward romance of modern books. It's a romance struggling to unfold in an era where women are dressed in silk and expected to marry men they barely know, and it takes place on an island where that convention holds steady even while horror is playing out in the background.
I realize some readers will see Juliet, Montgomery, and Edward as a love triangle, but I do not. Instead, I see it as Juliet caught between the boy she trusted as a child and the boy who reflects her inner torment as if he's being tormented too. Once truths begin to be revealed, the lack of a love triangle becomes even more apparent. Ms. Shepherd did an admirable job of delivering flawed, nuanced characters within the confines of her first person narrative, and I enjoyed the journey very much.
Finally, the plot. The atmospheric darkness in the book kept me feeling off-balance and uneasy for the entire story. That is a true testament to skilled writing and a solid plot. I was constantly searching for the wrong note, the lie, the slip-up that would unveil someone's secret because, like Juliet, I was absolutely sure there was more going on than I could see. The plot builds with the kind of delicious tension that keeps a reader turning pages, and the climax kept me absolutely riveted. When I finally turned the last page, I just sat and stared at a wall for a while because I needed time to process what I'd just experienced.
What Left Me Wanting More:
Nothing. This was a perfect-for-me book. It's worth mentioning that for those who are unfamiliar with the original book, or who are younger or more sensitive readers, there are two scenes with brief cruelty to animals. The scenes are integral to the plot rather than being gratuitous, and as a fierce animal lover myself, I found that they heightened my distress for Juliet and my certainty that her situation was increasingly precarious.
THE MADMAN'S DAUGHTER is a lovely Gothic story whose nuanced characters, atmospheric tension, and skillful prose combine to create an experience that will stay with the reader long after the last page is turned.
On a lot of levels, I'm really not entirely sure just how I felt about this novel. One thing that I do know quite for sure is that Shepherd writes well. Her syntax and diction dovetail with the historical setting, and never once threw me out of the book. Though much of the novel consists more of suspense than outright action, Shepherd kept the story tense and me on the edge of my couch.
Littered throughout The Madman's Daughter are literary references. Of course, the novel itself retells H.G. Wells' The Island of Dr. Moreau, which I have not read. However, my perusal of the Wikipedia article convinces me that Shepherd reworked the story with a deft hand. In addition to this, she sprinkled in numerous references to Shakespeare, including The Tempest, a very apt work to be brought up in this instance. There is even a reference to X-Men, though not, obviously, so overt of one, since it didn't exist back then.
What I found myself utterly unprepared for was how utterly dark, gruesome, creepy and horrifying this book is. Had I read Wells' work, I would have been better informed of the coming experience, but I knew nothing. Yes, the cover hints at creepiness, but this turned out to be one of the scariest books I have ever read. Of course, suspense has always been my weak point, as well as some other issues that I'll tackle next. Shepherd hits most of the staple varieties of horror: not knowing who to trust, fearing darkness with in oneself, mad science, gore, suspense, chases and more. Were I a big reader of horror, I do not know that I would have marked this as a must-read, but, let me tell you guys, you want this.
However, I know a lot of people, myself included, have a big issue with animal death in novels. For me, kill a human and I'm rarely bothered; kill a furry, adorable creature and I will ugly cry. An animal dies in an awful way in chapter two, and over the last half of the novel focuses on just vicious, awful things done to animals in the name of science. Again, were I familiar with Dr. Moreau, I would have known, but... If you're seriously concerned, my recommendation would be to read Wells' novel or a summary of it online, because I suspect Shepherd's is darker than the original, based on my sole Wells experience.
Juliet Moreau has a lot of sass and she made a delightful main character. I rooted for her along the way, which only made the horror that much more terrifying. Juliet's father, the infamous Dr. Moreau died, and, eventually, her mother did as well, leaving her to the charity of family. Unfortunately, her extended family turns out not to be at all charitable. Pulling on an old connection of her father's, she manages to obtain work at King's College as a maid, sunk low in prospects and station. At the college, Juliet is sexually harassed in the first chapter. I worried about whether she would have enough spunk to be an interesting main character, but, believe me, this girl holds her own once she is not trying to keep her job anymore.
Shepherd also excelled at Dr. Moreau, who fits the mad scientist role to a T. Not really a spoiler because obviously: he's actually alive. He also very much comes across as a man of the time period. So many historical novels depict most of the characters as rather modern with regards to women's rights, particularly those appealing to female readers. Dr. Moreau has no such conceptions, believing women are to be married to the men their fathers say, and that they should do nothing but needlework and piano playing until that time comes. Juliet, feisty and clever, struggles against how he wishes her to behave.
Sadly, I was not so fond of her love interests, Montgomery and Edward. Yup, a love triangle strikes again, though not one of the most annoying ones. I will credit Shepherd with not making it insanely obvious which man would be her choice, and with making both of them very obviously flawed, though neither one ranked as swoon-worthy for me. The love triangle reminded me somewhat of that in Griffin's Masque of the Red Death, though I felt a bit more sure in The Madman's Daughter which guy would win in the end. However, the ending did surprise me, so bonus points for that.
Do not let the lovely cover fool you: The Madman's Daughter is horror through and through. Though not for the faint of heart, Shepherd has constructed a well-written and clever retelling, sure to delight fans of creepy tales.
- I love the forbidden love in it. Master/Servant. But of course, there is a love triangle.
- I liked how in usual YA books its mostly centered around getting together with the right guy BUT, what I liked in this book was how she already knew what she wanted and it was just a matter of circumstances, and you just cant help but like the other guy by the end. Even though there were a few shallow breaths scenes, the book wasn't allll about the romance.
-the development of the characters were great.
Juliet Moreau used to be part of the rich society unil the scandal that pronounced her father as a madman.
But that was many years ago. Now Juliet's mother is dead, her father thought to be dead, and she works as a maid.
But after discovering that her father might not be dead after all, running into her an old friend, and basically getting fired from her job, she gets taken to the island where her father has lived all these years.
But strange things are going on at the island...
---My Thoughts ---
Apparently, this is a retelling of The Island of Dr. Moreau Which I haven't even heard of until this book came out.
But I read this book anyway!!
I really did like this book.
I loved how it was written, I loved how it was put together...
To summarize, I basically loved it.
This book though is, well, creepy.
Strangely, I did not have a problem with that!
---The Romance ---
There's this unspoken rule that every YA book must have romance!
So, of course, this book had it too.
I was not a fan of the romance.
It seemed to take away some of the focus.
The story is mainly supposed to focus on the island, the madman, the creatures, and all that other happy stuff!
But the romance got some unnecessary attention.
There was also a teensy little love triangle.
Okay, maybe not a teensy one but the love triangle added to my annoyance.
Juliet would act like she completely chose one guy and then she will start thinking about the other guy or start doubting herself.
I usually don't have a problem with romance but it just didn't do it for me in this book.
---The Ending ---
I did not see any of that coming. Believe me when I say that the ending is full of surprises.
And a cliffhanger...
---In Conclusion ---
I believe the only problem I really had with this book was the romance.
There were some scenes that I didn't see the point of (Usually romance scenes) but everything else was AMAZING!
If it's not obvious by the 5 star rating, I really loved this book.
So do I recommend this book? Yes, yes I do. But if you're the type of person that avoids creepy/ horror stories? This book is not for you.
First off, the characters were great! I really liked Juliet. She was strong and independent, and she had a lot of spunk for a girl living in the era that she did. As for the love interests, I adored everything about Montgomery. It seemed like Megan wanted us to have mixed feelings about him, but I never did. As for Edward, I just always knew there was something off about him, but I never expected him to be the man he turned out to be. Juliet's father, Dr. Moreau was brilliantly written as well. His descent into madness (well, further descent, as it becomes clear that he has always been a bit mad) was an awesome ride. I would have to say that the "natives" of the island were the most interesting characters though. They were so key in the unfolding of the mystery and the pace of the story, that collectively, they were a single character, in addition to their own individual stories. Which brings me to the next reason I loved this book! The story- it was creepy as hell. The world building is so good, that even the parts in London had me feeling like there was something lurking in every shadow, but London was nothing compared to the island. Then there was the fact that Megan Shepherd is really a master at writing suspense. I spent much of the time reading this book with knots in my stomach, ready to jump at the turn of the page. All that aside though, it was the story that made this book. It starts out by painting a picture of what Juliet's life has been like since her father had been run off with accusations that he performed a number of unnamed medical atrocities. First she lived with her mother, who out of necessity, became the mistress of a wealthy man- basically a high-class prostitute. When Juliet's mother died, she was turned out onto the streets to fend for herself, as her extended family wanted nothing to do with the daughter of a madman. She got a job cleaning at the university and a room at a boarding house, but things were far from easy for her. While spending the evening out with some students at the university, she inadvertently comes across one of her father's drawings, and this sparks the hope in her that he is still alive. She traces the drawing back to a pub where she finds not her father, but the now grown house boy from her childhood, Montgomery, who is in town getting supplies to take back to the island inhabited by her long-lost father. After a situation occurs that puts Juliet on the run, Montgomery is forced to take her along with him, to the island in the Pacific, where her father is staying. Well, the island is full of surprises and oddities, with the natives being the only a small fraction of it. The story unfolds with surprising fluidity given the fact that this is Megan's debut, and I found that even the unbelievable ended up appearing completely plausible. There was action, romance, mystery, and intrigue, and I could not stop turning the pages. In the end, I was left, mouth agape, wondering what had just happened. Then I experienced a bit of denial, looking for more pages that HAD to be there. Then I was just heartbroken... I do hope for resolution in book number two, but something tells me it will take a totally different direction than I expect it to, and that I will be singing its praises because of it...
I have a love/hate relationship with anything goth-emo-horror. I love to read it, but hate to be scared or creeped out. Terrify me and I resent you. But do nothing and I shall call you "bunny". See you can't win.
I remember The Island of Dr. Moreau movie when I was little. My older brothers were obsessed with it and kept it on repeat in the VCR. While I was usually around when it was playing, I can only remember snippets from covering my eyes. When I heard this was inspired by that, I knew the meat of the story but the potatoes were still foggy. So reading about the relationships of the characters in this novel was new and unmarred. Yet I doubted there was much that could get to me at my age.
So with much doubt, I embarked on reading this novel (at my own risk). It gave me waking nightmares! I can't get the twitching rabbit out of my head.....GAH! Even when I said bunny earlier I thought of the one in the book and it made my flesh crawl. Ewww. And yet I read this front to back with my morbid curiosity driving me. I couldn't stop turning the pages no matter how gross or eerie things got. The ending was more a relief... I felt as if I had escaped the island of Dr. Moreau. Nonetheless, this was an exciting journey.
The dynamics of the characters was complex. There was no definite evil person or saint. At times Juliet was as fragile as a lamb and others where she was as fired up as a wildcat. Dr. Moreau was no cookie cutter villain either. There was much to each character then first observations.
There were enough elements sure to captivate the adoration of every reader:
? religion cults
This was also way more mature than your average YA book. You will find yourself forgetting that the character is only sixteen.
This was definitely retro with an edge of creepy! The cover fooled me. It looks like one of those historical fictions with language that will put you to sleep long before the story line catches. But rest assured, the gore picks up right away. The narrator's solemn situation and peculiar circumstances keeps you turning. The romance was only dished in hints, then it was right back to crazyville. Insane & magnificent in it's freakiness!
Even in my dreams I can't escape the mental imagery of this novel which is why I have no choice but to rate it "EPIC"!
GOTHIC THRILLER, INDEED!
I could wax poetic on the many things I loved about this but I'll leave the rest for you to discover on your own.
I look forward to future novels this author has to offer.
*I received an ARC from the publisher for review and honest feedback.
So, Juliet and her mother were forced out of their high-standing, society positions when Juliet's father was run out of England because of some scandal. He went missing, and so did the family's servant, Montgomery (we shall come back to him. Because he's sexy). Dr. Moreau was presumed (or hoped) dead by most. When Juliet's momma died, she had to take work as a maid. She ends up having to leave town, soon after she runs into the aforementioned Montgomery, and learns that her father is alive and goes with Montgomery to her father's island (i.e. the Island of Dr. Moreau). On their way there, they pull a young man out of a life boat who appears to have miraculously survived a shipwreck. (This is where the love triangle begins) The three of them end up together on the island and there are a lot of delicious plot twists and dark descriptions and character development and romance and other wonderful book things. And the ending was the biggest twist of all, because I so didn't see it coming. I was all, "Oh this book is totally predictable, I know what will happen!" but then... no. It was amazing.
I love Juliet with every ounce of my being. She's brave and wonderful and selfish and analytical and I just love her so much. I did in fact say selfish. It made her human and believable. She wants both boys' affections, even though she leans towards one much more than the other, because she couldn't get enough of having a man be interested in her for her (something that hadn't happened... ever). And I so couldn't blame her. She had a crazy-as-all-heck daddy and needed some normalcy in her life. She was just such an amazingly created character and I can't wait for more of her in the next books.
Montgomery was always my favorite. Sexy, blond, smart, shy, sweet, harsh, bold- did I say sexy? I just... can't control my feels toward this guy. From the first page he's mentioned, I was rooting for Montgomliet (Juligomery?)... anyways, I wanted them together. He's just wonderful. Even if he's done some bad stuff, he's still perfect, because he's imperfect. That's one thing I really loved about this book. All of the characters were so perfectly real and human that I was in love with all of them. Each had their own demons, some bigger than most, and each dealt with it. I didn't like Dr. Moreau per se, but he was incredibly well-written.
I do like Edward, too, but he was clearly the Jem of the situation (for the Infernal Devices fans), some girls are gonna love him, but I prefer the one with the potentially dark past and who isn't the nice, proper gentleman. Edward was nice and protective and huggable, but not my type.
The Madman's Daughter is perfect in every way possible. It combines my favorite things in YA (the writing, the love triangle, the strong heroine) into one creepy-as-heck book that I just couldn't put down. I have to give it 5 stars!!
ARC received from HarperTeen
Release Date: 1-29-2013
Reviewed by: Middle Sis Jenn
The Sisters Say: Maniacal, Morose, and Magnificent
“I had an overwhelming feeling that the island wanted to sink its thorns into us, to bind us to this place.” ARC, pg. 318
Fueled by the incessant need to discover the truth, terrified by the uncontrollable madness that could be flowing through her veins, and quashed by the longing for the her savagely handsome old friend; Juliet travels to her father’s island, only to discover that some nightmares should never be brought into the light. Megan Shepherd’s world is gruesome and terrifying, filled with macabre creatures, obsessed madmen, and broken love.
This is the second gothic romance I have read in the past month, and I must say, this is definitely my new favorite genre. It’s eerie and beautiful, holding secrets best left buried. When I think of gothic romance, I think of the moors, thick with humid, with a layer of fog dancing diabolically over them; a place where you can feel the fear, the secrets, and the danger. And with this book, it’s like Megan took that scene, bottled it up, and then poured it out into her novel. All those same feelings came to me as Juliet fought through to the truth of the island. Megan’s world leaked from the page, and I felt like if I looked up, I would no longer be on my couch, but instead in the confines of a grisly laboratory bearing witness to unspeakable evils.
While the world remains my favorite part of this novel, I also really enjoyed the characters. Megan did a wonderful job of bringing them to life—even the minor characters. Their dialogue and actions made them unique and realistic, and I never felt like they were static and unknown. My favorite character was Edward, the castaway. The entire time I knew he was holding a secret (and disappointingly I guessed his secret too soon), but that just made him all the more intriguing. He was sweet, caring, and you could just tell he loved Juliet and wanted nothing more than to keep her safe. Megan wrote him perfectly—from physical appearance right down to the dirty secrets.
I enjoyed Juliet as the female main character, but unfortunately, she didn’t blow me away. I felt like there were times when what her father said was true—that she was weak and a victim to her own urges. She was strong one moment and then weak the next, and I wanted her to pick a side and stick with it. I wanted more of the Juliet that didn’t take any crap, and less of the Juliet that was weak-willed and too absorbed in what her father or London society might have said. I mean, she had already skipped out on the law in London, so why still feel like using London’s societal rules?
And then there’s Montgomery, the childhood friend who takes her to her father. He’s also got this savagely mad quality to him, but it’s in an entirely different way than the Doctor. He’s headstrong and brusque, but with a side to him that is vulnerable. I liked Montgomery because he was neither good nor evil—he was lost in the foggy grey, and truthfully, I don’t know if he would ever choose one life or the other. I kind of like that about him—he goes against London society and the island’s society. Watching him mature and discover where his loyalties lie was intriguing, and I am excited to see what is next for him.
Besides the few times that Juliet irked me, the only other thing that bothered me was the ending. I won’t say much other than I was disappointed in the character’s actions, those weaknesses (at least I think they are weakness….other’s might see them as strengths) finally getting the better of them. But, other than that, I loved this one!
Dark and unforgiving, Megan’s world will definitely keep you on your toes, and if you’re like me, you won’t be able to read it at night. Seriously, I was hearing scratching on my windows and things on the roof, so I had to put it aside to make sure I didn’t drive myself as mad as the Doctor! This books was gritty and beastly and unlike anything on the YA market right now. I highly recommend it to gothic horror and gothic romance lovers.
Enough about the future of the series, though, let's talk about the story itself.
For some reason I have this idea in my head that all historical books are always really slow and boring. The Madman's Daughter is yet another in the genre to prove me wrong. It did move a bit slowly, but not in the boring sense. It was maddening when mysteries were hinted at and answers felt just within grasp, but in the most delicious way. And don't fret about the aforementioned ending, you get all the answers it's just heartwrenching.
Juliet is pretty badass especially considering the setting. Here she is in a world where women are thought to be delicate, ignorant creatures and she's not afraid to do what needs to get done. She works scrubbing laboratory floors so she can survive without prostituting herself, she studies medicine, she stands up to her father, she chooses a guy for herself, among countless other things. She's not afraid to ask for help, either, which is an awesome thing on its own. One of the things I truly loved her for, though, was how confused she was. She knew her father was mad and found the things he did sickening but was drawn to them as well. The internal struggle was both wonderful and terrible.
I suppose you'd like me to talk about the boys as well? I honestly don't consider it much of a love triangle. There are two guys and only one girl, yes, but Juliet states from the beginning who she wants,. She does get a little confused, yes, but I think it's pretty fair given the circumstances. Plus, she doesn't go about stringing them both along. She ends up kissing both, sure, but she clearly tells boy B that she has feelings for boy A.
Juliet's father is absolutely terrifying and I felt anger, hatred, fear, and pity for him. Sometimes all at once.
If you're squeamish you might just want to back away now. The animal dissections were described so vividly I found myself wanting to wash my brain clean of them a few times. That's not to mention how I felt for the animals themselves. Maybe it's the vegetarian in me, but I can't stand to see animals abused. I mean, those damn ASPCA commercials make me want to cry and go adopt them all. So reading about vivisection? Not exactly awesome. It was, however, an important part of the story and meant to disturb the reader.
The mysteries here are crazy. I mean, we have Juliet trying to figure out whether her father is truly mad or a misunderstood genius, weird-looking islanders, unexplained deaths, and just general shady personalities. It was practically torture at times, but you'll get all the answers in due time. And I promise I do mean all (unless I missed something.)
The Nutshell: the Madman's Daughter is historical fiction/fantasy, but it's definitely not all busy London streets and corsets. The bulk of the story takes place on the island and they don't exactly sit around having tea parties. The romance is a nice addition to the story, but the mystery and horror is what will keep you turning the pages.
Rating: 5 0f 5 stars
**I received an ARC of this book from HarperCollins through Shelf Awareness in exchange for an honest review**
The thing with me and historical YA fiction is that either I really like it,or really hate it.My feelings towards that genre has no consistency.I know,I am a pretty weird person. **sigh**
ANYWAY,as you can already guess from my rating,I LOVED The Madman's Daughter.While it may be the part of a series,it can be read as a stand-alone as well,with no MAJOR cliffhangers.And yes,there may be a love triangle alert in this book,though it does not drone on and on about how the heroine does not know what to do with her feelings,making me want to whack her on the head.This problem had made me put down so many books in the past that I'm really glad for not having to face it again.The story-line was a lot more fast-paced and action packed,and by action packed I mean the "mad scientist on the loose" sort of action.I would say that this is one of those books which,without reading,your life would not be complete,like the Harry Potter or Percy Jackson series.
Right now,all you need to know is that you'll absolutely love it if you're into three things:
*Eerily disgusting and creepy stuff.Example: Frankenstein.
*A story with a unique premise.
On my ARC it says that the book is inspired by THE ISLAND OF DR.MOREAU but I wouldn't know the similarity because I've never read that book before.I might actually pick it up someday to compare it with The Madman's Daughter,but just not today.And guess what,the sequel of this book is inspired by THE STRANGE CASE OF DR.JEKYLL AND MR.HYDE!Eeep!! xD **Happy Dance**
Rating: 4 0f 5 stars
The Madman's Daughter is a breathtaking multi-theme novel. It has sweet romance on one side, reluctant friendship and a dark touch as well.
Juliet’s father was a pretty predictable character. Apart from being a madman crazy about his work, he made crazy decisions for Juliet as a father. Their reunion was sweet, though, with him being protective and all. His reaction to Edward, the first one we see that is, was hilarious.
For the love-triangle fans out there, you’ll be satisfied. Both Edward and Montgomery are all about Juliet’s safety, and who doesn’t like a protective guy?
All the mystery also kept me turning pages. The mysterious island, mysterious island dwellers were well described. And I was obsessed with Edward’s secret as it wasn’t revealed until the end.
Montgomery was sweet. He tried to convince Juliet how he had changed, how he wasn’t the doc’s servant anymore. But he made mistakes of his own and tried to correct them. Edward was, well, a typical yet different ‘Edward’. You’ll see what I mean when you read it.
Juliet was an interesting heroine. She’s brave and daring from the first page to the last. She’s smart and beautiful. Even after the shocking revelations, she remains sane and saves herself.
It may not be a real cliffhanger but definitely a heartbreaking ending, that will leave readers in enough suspense and anticipation for the sequel.