Author: Megan Shepherd
Series: The Madman's Daughter, #1
Relase date: January 29th 2013
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Hardcover, 432 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: The Book Depository
Every girl wants to believe the best of her father, doesn’t she? I barely remember mine, but no one could convince me he was anything other than perfect. Sixteen-year-old Juliet Moreau, once a proper young lady and now no more than a servant, is desperate to learn the truth of her father, the man who abandoned her and her mother and left them to starve. When her father’s former servant and now assistant Montgomery shows up in London, Juliet talks him into taking her to her father, on a remote island full of monsters and peril. While on their way, they rescue a castaway, a young and dangerously attractive gentleman, and he ends up joining them on the island. Juliet is torn between the two men, but more than that, she struggles with her feelings towards her father. Is Dr. Moreau the monster everyone believes him to be? Or is he just a misunderstood scientist, like many brilliant minds before him?
Having read The Island of Dr. Moreau ages ago, I had a pretty clear idea of what to expect from this book, but I didn’t know how far Megan Shepherd would take it, and let me tell you, she took it pretty far. The Madman’s Daughter has more than its fair share of grotesque creatures, doctor Moreau’s almost-people with scales, antlers and everything in between. Some are more intelligent, some barely a step above their true form, but all of them are deformed in one way or another. What the good doctor lacks in compassion, he makes up for in sheer brilliance – no sane person would want to go anywhere near his crazy factory, but one can’t deny that the results are pure genius.
A painful bellow tore through the night. I kicked the sheets off, swear pouring down my neck. Was it the sheepdog? I didn’t know any creature that could make such an ungodly sound. As the screams dragged on, haunting my every breath, my mind started to wander to darker and darker places. Wondering what could cause an animal to scream like that.
Juliet father, apparently clueless to the situation he’d left her in, expects her to be the lady she was raised to be while he was still a London doctor and a respected member of the society. This I found to be the utterly unbelievable, more unbelievable than the creatures he was creating. That he would not know, I can believe. That he wouldn’t want to know, I’d even expect. But that Juliet wouldn’t lash out and tell him instead of subjecting herself over and over again to his condescending sermons, I simply refuse to accept. Here is the culprit, the man who abandoned her, left her to the mercy of others, essentially forced her mother to prostitute herself and then killed her, all to chase wild experiments and create abominations on a god forsaken island. Above all, I don’t see how or why Montgomery wouldn’t explain to him the condition in which he found Juliet when he arrived to London. It makes no sense to me.
Whatever it was – his new discovery – it had consumed him enough to abandon everything else in his life. It was more important than his reputation, his wife, even his daughter.
Which brings me to Montgomery and his weird case of Stockholm syndrome. He was Dr. Moreau’s servant and the only one the doctor didn’t abandon, but as nice as that sounds, he’s the one who got the short end of the stick. Forced to help Moreau with his crazy experiments, he grew up surrounded by monsters, with not a human in sight. Since he never knew anything but the life he had with the crazy scientist, his almost blind obedience to Dr. Moreau was certainly understandable, but it made him a very lousy love interest. For the life of me I couldn’t understand why Juliet would be attracted to him. Yes, at first there were the childhood memories, that link of two children who suffered through a trauma together, but as the story progressed and Montgomery continued being the doctor’s punching bag, a servant in all but name, that initial draw should have faded, leaving nothing but a clear image of a man with no backbone behind. However, Juliet continued to find excuses and endless justifications for Montgomery, and although they were mostly true, they should have invoked pity, and not passion.
Edward the castaway was a different story altogether. Juliet was equal parts uneasy around him and attracted to him. Yes, he was intriguing, but she sensed something was not quite right with him. And yet, unlike Montgomery, he was a proper gentleman, and therefore fitting for Juliet, which got him a full support from her father.
The big plot twist towards the end wasn’t completely unexpected, but I still liked the way it was handled. It increased my overall enjoyment (and my rating) and made me more excited about the second book, despite the fairly disappointing ending. Megan Shepherd has a talent for writing horror, which makes me especially glad that we’ll see two more books in this series. I just wish she’d stay away from tropes altogether, and far, far away from love triangles.