The Madman's Daughter
Author: Megan Shepherd
Release: January 29th 2013
Genre: Historical, Mystery, Horror, YA
#1 in the Madman's Daughter trilogy
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.
This book has its moments, where it's actually really good, and I do see the potential — it's definitely there — but all in all, it's overshadowed by all the tiny little things that made me want to throw this book into the waste basket.
I was very tempted to give it 2 stars at first, because while I did mostly enjoy the second half, the first half was simply .. terrible. Juliet is just constantly thinking about both Montgomery and Edward, swooning and fawning over them and their handsome faces, making me roll my eyes more than once. However, the second half really saved this book. It's the last 200 pages that make this worthwhile.
But that's just it. Juliet is such a naive character, and she doesn't get much better later on. Even two hundred pages in, she's still making goo goo eyes at both guys, having lusty naked dreams about one and then making out with the other in the barn, while constantly trying to stand up to her father but then just standing by quietly while he slaps and beats her. The height of it was when she was out at sea with one of the boys, both of them unable to swim and she's yelling at her companion to go find the other guy that's mysteriously vanished. Really? Really? If she were as proactive as she's sometimes made out to be, she wouldn't yell at the "other guy" to try and find her beau. And then being mad at him for refusing to risk his own life, seeing as he can't fucking swim either. Makes sense to me, but not to Juliet. Honestly, sometimes I felt like she could be a good character and I might even start to like her some day, but ... not anymore. You suck, Juliet.
I have nothing good to say about Montgomery and Edward either, although at the same time, I have nothing bad to say too. They were okay, both of them, they both irritated me at times and others I liked them well enough, so... However, I will say that, for once, I can actually see the cleverness and reason behind the love triangle Shepherd's created. The servant and the gentleman, Juliet's father wanting her to marry Edward because he's of high birth but her being more drawn to the servant boy she's known all her life — I liked that.
What I didn't like, nonetheless, was the poor way it was executed. Both the romances reeked of insta-love. Yes, both of them — even though, supposedly, Juliet and Montgomery have known each other since they were kids and apparently Juliet has always looked up to him, they still felt like a very heavy insta-love case. And don't even get me started on Edward. What he even sees in Juliet that makes him want to drop everything immediately, follow her to the island of a madman and protect her is beyond me. It was an even worse case of insta-love than Juliet and Montgomery.
I will say that, yes, the ending does change a few things. It explains some of this and excuses it somewhat, but for the 380 pages before that, I didn't know what is revealed then and it annoyed me nonetheless. For 380 pages, I was annoyed by this. So it still counts.
The only good character was Juliet's father, but not because he was good. He wasn't, he was a cruel and brutal psychopath, but he was a very intriguing character and I liked reading about him, his behavior, his attitude. How he thinks of himself as a God because of the work he's doing, thinking himself superior to all and his cold cruelty — he was an excellently done villain. I could feel the madness lurking behind everything he did, and it was thrilling.
And then, of course, the were the Horror elements that I really enjoyed as well; like I said, this book has serious potential. If it weren't for Juliet's stupidity and the absolute horrid romances, I would have loved this book, no doubt. There were a lot of unanswered questions that made me want to read on, trying to find answers, there was the mystery of the unknown monster killing off the islanders and some very intense scenes spent holding my breath in fear. Especially the last few pages were actually very gripping and full of surprises I definitely did not see coming. And the ending was ... unusual, too.
I'm sad, mostly. This book really could have been great, but it suffered severely from the stupid relationships it just had to force on me. Maybe I'm going to read the sequel, maybe not, I still haven't decided. The ending left on a cliffhanger-like note, but I think I'll wait it out for now, see what others thought of it. Maybe it'll be better than this one, maybe it'll take the potential this book had and finally make something of it. I hope so.