Thursday, April 18, 2013

ARC Review: The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd

The Madman's Daughter
Author: Megan Shepherd
Publication: Balzer + Bray; Uncorrected Proof Edition edition (January 29, 2013)

Description: 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. MoreauThe 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.

My Thoughts: I have very mixed feeling about this novel. Juliet Moreau, the main character, seems to end up in an even worse situation at the end of the story than she was in at the beginning. This story is supposed to be inspired by the H. G. Wells' story The Island of Dr. Moreau which I have never read. The setting in Victorian England and an isolated island off the coast of Australia. I thought the world building was well done as the story just drips Gothic darkness. 

However, I did have some problems with the science fiction aspects of the story and the timeline. When Juliet reaches her father's isolated island, he has populated it with his experiments, but according to Juliet's age when he left England and her age when she reached his island, only six years have passed. Even insane dedication, which Dr. Moreau clearly possesses, would find it hard to accomplish what he is supposed to have accomplished. The descriptions of the surgical reconstruction of animals to make them more man-like and the combinations of species and the injections to change the brain move this well out of science fiction and into fantasy.

Juliet has a lot to deal with in this novel. Since her father's abandonment and the scandal that accompanied it and since her mother's death, her situation in London is dire. She is working as a cleaning maid in the medical school and being harassed by one of her father's former colleagues. When she sees one of her father's anatomical drawings and learns that one of the medical students bought it from a guy, Juliet begins to think that her father has returned to London. When she investigates she meets Montgomery who was a servant boy and who was Juliet's childhood companion. She convinces him to take her to her father when he returns.

They pick up a shipwreck survivor during their sea voyage and bring him to the island too. This is the basis for the required young adult love triangle. Juliet loves Montgomery who feels unworthy of her regard and her father is pushing the shipwreck survivor, Edward Prince, at her due to his supposedly higher social status.

Conditions on the island quickly devolve as Dr. Moreau's creatures are getting out of control and some unexplained murders are taking place. All the while, Dr. Moreau is still in his own dream world where everything is all right and he is still focused on his experiments to create his perfect creature.

Readers who enjoy historical fantasy will enjoy this Gothic thriller complete with a mad scientist, a troubled beauty, amazing creatures, and a romance too.

Favorite Quote:
Montgomery might have been capable of wicked things, but he wasn't wicked, not at the core. No matter how much father had twisted him, he would always be that hardworking, kindhearted boy who couldn't tell a believable lie if his life depended on it. Edward and I were cut from different cloth. Maybe we weren't wicked, but there was something stained, something torn, in the fabric of our beings.
I got this ARC from the Amazon Vine program. You can buy your copy here.

1 comment:

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