Thursday, June 6, 2013

Review: The Madman's Daughter by: Megan Shephard

Title: The Madman's Daughter
Author: Megan Shepard
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Pages: 420
Purchase: Barnes and Noble | Amazon


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:

By now we’re used to modernized versions of the classics, but I never would have thought an author would pick H.G. Wells’s sci-fi novel “The Island of Dr. Moreau.” Those who’ve read it know that it’s not an easy book to get through. I do like books that make the reader question life, but this book has given me more nightmares than I care for when I read it.

If you read more than one book a year, it’s impossible to avoid stories and characters that are similar. Especially when it comes to the YA category, but “The Madman’s Daughter,” will be such a refreshing read to those who are tired of repetitions.

I love it when I randomly pick up a book and am sucked in on page 10. “The Madman’s Daughter” was one of those, and it only came into my possession because the book’s Turkish publisher DEX sent it to me for review. This is why I found out that Shepherd was indeed inspired by H.G. Wells’s “The Island of Dr. Moreau.” This made it clear why I had this deja-vu feeling while reading, and why it wouldn’t go away.

The main character and narrator Juliet Moreau’s father disappears after he’s accused of conducting awful experiments. We meet Juliet right after her mother has passed away, and she’s working as a cleaner at a hospital in London. When she hears rumors about her father’s whereabouts and stars searching for him, she runs into the son of the servant who used to work for them: Montgomery. When she finds out Montgomery is living with her father on an island, she decides she’ll go with him. She gets on a ship with Montgomery and this man Balthasar who works for her father. They find this guy called Edward who’s the survivor of a shipwreck, and he joins them. Happy to reunite with her father yet curious about whether or not the rumored experiments were true, Juliet finds herself in an environment she never could have imagined.

“The Madman’s Daughter”s plot is very much like “The Island of Dr. Moreau.” This is a positive similarity. Shepherd had given Wells’s characters a new voice and freshness. And I think that those who’ve read the original are going to be more excited about this than those who haven’t. First of all, you must have noticed that the main character’s last name is “Moreau.” And, Montgomery in the original book was Dr. Moreau’s best friend and partner. Of course, not all similarities make you go, “that’s cool!”

Juliet’s father, just like the original Dr. Moreau gets in trouble due to the experiments he conducts on animals: “vivisection.” Dr. Moreau continues these experiments on the island as well. As she’s trying to make sense of the truth, Juliet is also struggling with her feelings for Montgomery, whom she liked since she was a child, and also trying to find out who Edward is and why he’s treating her so well.

What I liked most about “The Madman’s Daughter” is that even though it’s rather creepy, it also makes the readers question their own beliefs. The original book also stirred controversy when it was first published in 1896. You will also find yourself thinking about what you would do if you were in Juliet’s shoes, and I’m sure it won’t be easy to come up with an answer.

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