Sunday, February 22, 2015

Review: A Cold Legacy by Megan Shepherd

A Cold Legacy

Author: Megan Shepherd
Release: January 27th 2015
Genre: Historical, Mystery, Horror, YA
#3 in the Madman's Daughter trilogy


After killing the men who tried to steal her father’s research, Juliet—along with Montgomery, Lucy, Balthazar, and a deathly ill Edward—has escaped to a remote estate on the Scottish moors. Owned by the enigmatic Elizabeth von Stein, the mansion is full of mysteries and unexplained oddities: dead bodies in the basement, secret passages, and fortune-tellers who seem to know Juliet’s secrets. Though it appears to be a safe haven, Juliet fears new dangers may be present within the manor’s own walls.

Then Juliet uncovers the truth about the manor’s long history of scientific experimentation—and her own intended role in it—forcing her to determine where the line falls between right and wrong, life and death, magic and science, and promises and secrets. And she must decide if she’ll follow her father’s dark footsteps or her mother’s tragic ones, or whether she’ll make her own.

With inspiration from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, this breathless conclusion to the Madman’s Daughter trilogy is about the things we’ll sacrifice to save those we love—even our own humanity.


The fuck?! The fuck is this?! The fuck is that?! What even?

This book was a page filler, nothing more. The story of the trilogy was concluded by the half-time mark, after several detours already, and the rest, as well as most of what came before, felt like empty air, because that's what it was. Nothing really new, nothing of substance, is added to the plot of this finale. It's the continuation of the last book's plotline, bringing that one to an end and expanding, drawing it out unnecessarily long. 

I liked that Shepherd has chosen to switch locations for all three of her novels, because sometimes a new backdrop and a change in atmosphere can truly enhance the story and add a whole new element to it. And at first, the new setting of Ballentyne Manor was quite intriguing, however, coupled with the dullness of the rest of the story, even the potentially compelling location couldn't have saved anything.

Because, as I already said, the plot was awfully boring and lame, I'm sorry to say. I mean, these books, to me anyway, have never been perceived as full of action and packed with activity to the brim, but rather the story was all about the inner struggles of the characters and their own personal journeys of growth. And I did like that facet of the story, the discovery of what it means to be oneself and what makes a person; finding your own path in the world etc, but in addition to this moral lesson there was simply something more substantial missing. This is still an actual story which is supposed to have an actual relevant plot line, but it just felt like Shepherd grew desperate somewhere along the line and invented the most ridiculous plot line she could have. Or one of them, anyway, I'm sure it could have gone a lot worse. Doesn't mean it went well, though.

I will throw her a bone and say that I really, really loved seeing Lucy step out of her shell and be a more active part of the story and taking on a more active role. She wasn't a passive bystander anymore, someone things were happening to, but instead, she developed into that determined, selfless girl who's willing to get shit done. I immensely enjoyed her in this installment, at long last. The other characters were also still well written for the most part, there are lots of new ones introduced and they were all characterized satisfactorily. Juliet has lost the tendency to always hold monologues over the exact same thing the whole time, and while she does agonize over literally everything still, at least it's not too repetitive anymore.

Another thing that really bugged me, and which is kind of ironic considering, is the love triangle. Yes, I know, I've said it annoyed the shit out of me the first two novels, but with Shepherd just completely removing it in this last book, I also have a huge problem with. It's like, when brainstorming for her first novel, she had the idea of throwing in a love triangle for fuck's sake, because they were popular, but when she saw that it wasn't that well received, she decided to simply drop it altogether with no preamble. There was no warning whatsoever that it would just be dropped like a hot potato and it was simply strange. Suddenly, Edward really does love Lucy, when in the last book he explicitly said that, while he did admire Lucy, he only has feelings for Juliet, and to me it even seemed implicitly said that he was still going to try to fight for her somewhat. Yes, he did take the arsenic, so some might see that as giving in to defeat, but he didn't take it because he wasn't willing to fight for her love, but because he feared he'd hurt her or something as the Beast was taking over. And now, suddenly you honestly want me to believe he developed feelings for Lucy in his state of delirium? Of course.

Not to mention that I still really, really, really don't like Montgomery, since he is still a controlling dick.
“Juliet James,” he whispered against my cheek. “How do you feel, knowing you'll never be a Moreau again?”
(...) “Juliet. We need to talk. In private.” He grabbed my arm and dragged me into the hall.
Fuck, even Elizabeth could see that the guy couldn't ever understand her.
“Montgomery is a good man, but he'll never understand why women like us do what we must do.”
This douchebag seriously thinks he has some sort of claim over Juliet and a right to decide what's good for her, and he still underestimates her a lot of the fucking time.
“I could have handled it on my own,” I said.
He raised an eyebrow.
(...) “But why would you burn them?” Anger started to flood in my veins. “That's the truth —
my truth! You had no right!”
“I didn't want you to know,” he said.
What a fuckwad.

I honestly enjoyed the second installment, because it was entertaining, well written and a huge improvement from the first novel Shepherd wrote. However, with this one, it seems like she just took ten steps backward for every one she took forwards in Her Dark Curiosity. The ending was very unsatisfactory, as well as the whole story before it, and I am quite disappointed. I'll still probably read her new trilogy to test out the waters and see if she'll make the same mistakes twice, but whereas I was excited to read more, and something new, from her just yesterday, this excitement has dimmed significantly again now. 

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