25 January 2013

Review: The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd

The Madman's Daughter (The Madman's Daughter #1) by Megan Shepherd

Expected Publication: 29 January 2013 by Balzer + Bray

Pages: 432 (hardcover)

Genre/s: YA, Gothic-horror, Classics retelling

Source: Publisher for review


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.

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 Thoughts

When I first saw the cover and synopsis of The Madman's Daughter I had immediate book -lust.  A pretty cover, Gothic historical fiction thriller based on a classic?  Even with an obvious love triangle in the making, I was so excited about this book.

And maybe that excitement and build-up is partly to blame for me not loving The Madman's Daughter as much as I thought I would.  Expectation can really be a killer.

The Madman's Daughter is certainly a dark, Gothic, historical fiction.  Although I have't read The Island of Dr. Moreau myself, I have a basic knowledge of the plot, and my impression is that Megan Shephard used that plot and really didn't hold anything back.  This is definitely not a book for the easily upset or rattled - it's confrontational and dark, bordering on horror.

Juliet is a bit of a lost soul and although shes tough, brave and academically clever, it doesn't seem that she's very street-smart which is quite odd for a sixteen-year-old-girl who has been fending for herself in London - some of the decisions she makes on the island, and signals that she misses did make her a little frustrating for me.  I also didn't understand her attraction to both Montgomery and Edward - I really liked Montgomery with his loyalty and calmness, but I found Edward kind of irritating, almost to the point of insipidness.

I loved the atmosphere that Ms. Shephard created in The Madman's Daughter - from London, to the sea journey and finally to the creepiness of the island, the whole book just made me feel like I was right there in the story, and although the 'mystery' was exactly what I expected, it was definitely creepy enough to get my attention. 

The plot itself is really quite chilling and definitely one of the positives, along with Ms. Shephard's writing which really reflects the time period and the feel of the story.  The island isn't described in minute detail, but it's mysterious and varied enough to really build up the plot and tension.  There's not much more I can say without really giving away huge chunks of the plot, but it definitely kept me interested, despite some of the uneven pacing which had me either unable to put it down or bored.

This review is pretty much as confused as I felt about this book.  I loved the plot, the feel and the world-building but I was underwhelmed by the characters and the pacing.   However, I'm interested to see where this series goes next - especially when I feel the need for incredibly atmospheric writing.


  1. Well, I have not read the classic, too. But I have a basic idea and i love horror, so it looks like this will be my kind of read.
    Although I HATE love triangles, I find them of NO use. So, I don't really know what my feelings will be after reading this
    GREAT review, Kat
    Your reader,

  2. Great review! If this is the first in a series, then I think I can go with slow pacing and stuff, I really like the premise of this book!


  3. Kat, I am right with you. This novel could have been so brilliant with better characters. I mean, these aren't terrible, but the boys especially lean towards cardboard. It's a shame. I hope that gets better in the next one.

  4. I am so definitely asking our library to buy this book!

  5. Hmmmm, sounds interesting! I hate slow pacing sometimes though... hmmm, might still read it. Great review Kat! <3

  6. Ah, was really looking forward to this one. But slow pace and horror..hmm..might as well move it down from my next to read list. Great review, Kat.

  7. I loved the movie The Island of Dr. Monroe and this was sounding pretty good to me even though you were lukewarm and then i got to "her attraction to both Montgomery and Edward". Blah! I hate love triangles. I was intrigued by the horror but not enough to plow through the old LT lol



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