Reading level: Ages 13 and up
Hardcover: 432 pages
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (January 29, 2013)
Genre: YA Historical Fiction/Suspense
*Book 1 in ‘Madman’s Daughter Trilogy’
About: 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.
My Review: Breathtaking and heart-pounding, The Madman’s Daughter is filled with twists, turns, blanket-gripping, page-flying and unstoppable chills that will keep you up long into the night.
Megan Shepherd has an amazing talent for bringing stories and characters to life – as is prominently displayed within the pages of The Madman’s Daughter. The beginning has an incredible Gothic and dark feel to it that left me with near chills, and as the story progressed, this aspect only got better. The story begins in London during the late 1800′s. Juliet is left orphened after her mother passes away from consumption. Juliet is forced to take on work as a cleaning girl at a local college to pay her way for room and board. When she is attacked, all bets are off and she must decide what to do with herself if she doesn’t want to end up on the dirty streets, paying her way with her body. It is when she comes across a childhood friend that her life changes forever.
After a treacherous trip across the ocean, Juliet is reunited with a father that she thought dead. The reunion, however, is anything but pleasant and deep, dark and horrendous secrets are uncovered. Juliet makes discoveries about her father, as well as herself, that will forever alter her life and those lives around her.
The Madman’s Daughter is truly a work of creative art. I found the story line to be very unique and captivating, as well reveling in the detailing of the characters – enabling me to truly feel myself within the story. Ms. Shephard brings the time period easily to life with the mannerisms, dialog and descriptions of the characters and their surroundings. I loved Juliet – her bravery, intelligence and feistiness where refreshing and added an excellence to the story that would have otherwise been missing. I have to say that I found myself detesting the father, questioning Edward and loving Montgomery. There are light doses of romance throughout the story, which were very well written and added a bit of “push and pull” to the story – as well as a touch of “frenzy”, if you will. A few of the twists and turns I did have figured out ahead of time, but many I did not and found myself gasping in surprise. There were times I wanted to cry, times I wanted to scream and times that I wanted to slap someone as I read. The ending is perfect for leaving the reader hanging (one of the times that I wanted to scream!! lol) and left me dying to read the next book to see what happens.
The Madman’s Daughter is the perfect story for readers looking for something unique, engrossing, puzzling, adventuresome and a story and characters that will not soon leave your mind. I know that the age for this book says 13 and up, and while I am ok with that, I would shoot for readers a bit older than that – possibly 15+, simply for the sake of truly understanding what is going on within the story and the characters. However, that is just my opinion. I can say that adults will have a very easy time getting into this story and having their attention held until the very end. I am giving The Madman’s Daughter a 4 1/2 out of 5 – though it truly is so close to perfect that it hurts, lol!!! I can truly say that this is going on my list of favorite reads of 2013!
A few of my favorite quotes (taken from an uncorrected proof):
“As I said, I’m glad you came.” His eyes held mine, leaving little doubt as to his meaning. Montgomery wasn’t one for games.
My corset felt even more constricting than usual. I wanted to rip the stays and fill my burning lungs with air. His touch was thrilling. His whispered words, I’m glad you came, turned my insides molten. Emotions were a puzzle, something to be studied and fitted together carefully. But the edges of this puzzle didn’t fit within the lines I knew.
A door slammed from within, making me jump, and a boy appeared, running in a strange skipping manner toward us. He took hold of the horse’s bridle while Montgomery climbed down and ruffled the boy’s hair. I couldn’t help but stare. The child’s jaw protruded at an odd angle below a nearly nonexistent nose. A dark, fine hair covered his bare arms. A shiver ran over my skin. It was as if my father had stumbled upon some collection of natives whom the theory of evolution – were Mr. Darwin to be believed – had skipped by.
This was madness. This curiosity inside me was unnatural. It had pushed me further from my mother, further from reason and rules and logic. But there were times I still couldn’t resist.
I rested my forehead against the wall and closed my eyes. It wasn’t just my curiosity, or my fascination with anatomy, or how I could unhesitatingly chop a rabbit’s head off with an ax when a roomful of boys couldn’t. Those things were all symptoms of the same sickness – a kind of madness inherited from my father. It was a dangerous pull in my guy drawing me toward the dark possibilities of science, toward the thin line between life and death, toward the animal impulses hidden behind a corset and a smile.
About Megan Shepherd: Megan Shepherd grew up in the mountains of Western North Carolina, where her family has owned and operated an independent bookstore for over 35 years. Shepherd attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she majored in international studies and went on to live and work in Costa Rica, Senegal, Scotland, Spain, and many other countries. Now, Shepherd has returned to Western North Carolina and is a full-time writer of young adult novels.