Friday, February 1, 2013

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

The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: January 29, 2013
Publisher: HarperTeen
432 Pages

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.

The Mad Man's Daughter was not a book that immediately caught my eye. I had never really heard of The Island of Doctor Moreau, and am not that big of a horror fan. But once I saw some of my highly respected friends loving this novel, I knew I had to pick it up. I'm very glad that I gave it a shot and stuck with it until the end.

If I'm being honest, I struggled with The Madman's Daughter at first. That's not to say it is not well-written. It definitely is, but I knew I was going to have at least one issue with it before I even started the book, which made it hard to immerse myself in the world that the author weaves. That was the LOVE TRIANGLE. The love triangle is a literary theme that has been abused, in my opinion. Too many novels use it to create conflict. There are some books that handle it well and there are those that do not. The Mad Man's Daughter fell into the latter category. So while I liked the story as a whole, my opinion of the romance in this story was pretty spot on and that made it often hard to enjoy.

The last half of the book had me enraptured. The first half… Ehhhh. I almost put the book down. It starts off very slowly and it doesn't take long for the romance to come out and play. While I like romance in my books, the romances very nearly overpowered the plot in this book. If the romance hadn't been so "in your face," I wouldn't have hesitated to give this book five stars. The setting is terrifying and once the love triangle moves into the background, the plot is utterly engrossing. I finished the second half in one sitting because I was so tied to the story.

Juliet Moreau is the daughter of a scientist. A scientist known to the rest of England as a madman. After his exile, Juliet and her mother struggle to survive until Juliet's mother dies and Juliet begins work as a mad at the college where her father worked. An incident has her running to an old companion, Montgomery, a boy she grew up with before her family's exile, for refuge and the opportunity to be reunited with her father. Along the way she encounters Edward, a mysterious boy who she feels a connection to from the first moment she lays her eyes on him. As if the struggle to decipher her feelings for Montgomery and Edward wasn't enough, something is happening in the jungle surrounding her father's home, something that she's sure has to do with her father's horrid past.

It's hard to like a book when you don't like its characters, but somehow, and I'm really not sure how, somehow, I loved this book without really caring for the characters. They are not always redeemable and some of them got on my nerves more often than not. I struggled to like them mostly because didn't understand or agree with many of their actions. I did not like Juliet, Edward or Juliet's father (surprise, surprise), but Montgomery and Balthasar… Oh, how I adored them! Balthasar is a strange character. We never really get to know him, but he absolutely broke my heart. He's a sweetheart and my favorite of the islanders. There isn't much else I can say about him without spoiling the novel, but just know he's a character that will tug at your heartstrings. And Montgomery? Juliet is a fool for even believing that Edward was as on the same level as Montgomery. (Obviously, I want her to end up with Montgomery.)

At lot of this book was predictable, but there were a couple of scenes that weren't and those scenes were what made the book. Before them, this book barely rode on two stars for me, after them I give it four. So, yeah. You know they have to be good. There is one scene that I was sure I knew what was coming and was totally wrong. I am so glad that Ms. Shepherd was able to reel me in, even if it didn't happen immediately.

The setting in this novel and the gothic feel of the prose left me with chills. The best part of this novel is the fact that it can actually terrify you. Megan Shepherd is brilliant with horror and I hope the rest of this series can be a creepy as this book. It's not often that a book frightens me, but The Madman's Daughter did just that from beginning to end.

The end… I have to admit the end left me breathless. It was unpredictable and made me regret reading it without the sequels being released. I say that only because it blew my mind and kinda destroyed my soul. It's a cliffhanger that I, personally, did not see coming in the least and aren't those the best kinds? The Mad Man's Daughter is a book that I would sincerely recommend, if you forgive the awkward love triangle and the slow beginning.

I received a copy of this novel for review from the publisher via Edelweiss.


  1. This was a gorgeously executed review :) It's disappointing that the romance wasn't all that great, but it still sounds like a very haunting and intriguing book - I want to read this one so badly!!

  2. It's on my to-read list next....thanks!

  3. Ugh, the love triangle. If there’s one thing that’s keeping me far, far away from this book, it’s the love triangle. But, like you said, everyone does seem to like this novel as a whole, so it’s probably worth checking out.

    I find it interesting that you still liked this book even though you didn’t care too much about the characters. To me, that says the author is a fantastic writer and has a lot of skill, enough so to make readers overlook the unsympathetic character issue.

  4. Love triangle. Unlikable character. Gothic-y prose. I totally agree the first being heavily abused. The last two... uh, no. The love triangle is bad enough. Passing on this book.

    Thanks for the review!

  5. What a beautiful story! I loved your review. I want to read it now!


  6. I'm really looking forward to reading this. Had my eye on it ever since it came under my radar. Great book!

  7. Still haven't finished it..I've got to find the time. Great review! :)

  8. I have a copy of this on its way to me from a giveaway win and I am so excited to start reading!!! :) Enjoyed your review!

  9. This sounds like an interesting book. Although you have problems with the first half of the book, it still sounds like it is worth reading. My daughter and I are both interested in reading it. Thanks for the great review!

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