Monday, January 14, 2013

The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd

The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd
ARC received from HarperTeen
Release Date:  1-29-2013
Reviewed by:  Middle Sis Jenn
The Sisters Say:  Maniacal, Morose, and Magnificent
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.

“I had an overwhelming feeling that the island wanted to sink its thorns into us, to bind us to this place.”  ARC, pg. 318

Fueled by the incessant need to discover the truth, terrified by the uncontrollable madness that could be flowing through her veins, and quashed by the longing for the her savagely handsome old friend; Juliet travels to her father’s island, only to discover that some nightmares should never be brought into the light.  Megan Shepherd’s world is gruesome and terrifying, filled with macabre creatures, obsessed madmen, and broken love.

This is the second gothic romance I have read in the past month, and I must say, this is definitely my new favorite genre.  It’s eerie and beautiful, holding secrets best left buried.  When I think of gothic romance, I think of the moors, thick with humid, with a layer of fog dancing diabolically over them; a place where you can feel the fear, the secrets, and the danger.  And with this book, it’s like Megan took that scene, bottled it up, and then poured it out into her novel.  All those same feelings came to me as Juliet fought through to the truth of the island.  Megan’s world leaked from the page, and I felt like if I looked up, I would no longer be on my couch, but instead in the confines of a grisly laboratory bearing witness to unspeakable evils.

While the world remains my favorite part of this novel, I also really enjoyed the characters.  Megan did a wonderful job of bringing them to life—even the minor characters.  Their dialogue and actions made them unique and realistic, and I never felt like they were static and unknown.  My favorite character was Edward, the castaway.  The entire time I knew he was holding a secret (and disappointingly I guessed his secret too soon), but that just made him all the more intriguing.  He was sweet, caring, and you could just tell he loved Juliet and wanted nothing more than to keep her safe.  Megan wrote him perfectly—from physical appearance right down to the dirty secrets.

I enjoyed Juliet as the female main character, but unfortunately, she didn’t blow me away.  I felt like there were times when what her father said was true—that she was weak and a victim to her own urges.  She was strong one moment and then weak the next, and I wanted her to pick a side and stick with it.  I wanted more of the Juliet that didn’t take any crap, and less of the Juliet that was weak-willed and too absorbed in what her father or London society might have said.  I mean, she had already skipped out on the law in London, so why still feel like using London’s societal rules? 

And then there’s Montgomery, the childhood friend who takes her to her father.  He’s also got this savagely mad quality to him, but it’s in an entirely different way than the Doctor.  He’s headstrong and brusque, but with a side to him that is vulnerable.  I liked Montgomery because he was neither good nor evil—he was lost in the foggy grey, and truthfully, I don’t know if he would ever choose one life or the other.  I kind of like that about him—he goes against London society and the island’s society.  Watching him mature and discover where his loyalties lie was intriguing, and I am excited to see what is next for him.

Besides the few times that Juliet irked me, the only other thing that bothered me was the ending.  I won’t say much other than I was disappointed in the character’s actions, those weaknesses (at least I think they are weakness….other’s might see them as strengths) finally getting the better of them.  But, other than that, I loved this one!

Dark and unforgiving, Megan’s world will definitely keep you on your toes, and if you’re like me, you won’t be able to read it at night.  Seriously, I was hearing scratching on my windows and things on the roof, so I had to put it aside to make sure I didn’t drive myself as mad as the Doctor!  This books was gritty and beastly and unlike anything on the YA market right now.  I highly recommend it to gothic horror and gothic romance lovers.