But as much as I knew I should be repulsed, my curiosity burned so brightly it made my humanity flicker and dim.
This book. The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd was entirely not what I had expected, across the board. Characters, setting, plot, they all just took my breath and stole my heart, and I’m not entirely quite sure what to do with myself except shudder and weep and look for the next book in the series.
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.
This book was inspired by H.G. Wells and having not read the original, I’m not sure how closely The Madman’s Daughter mirrors it, but I can say that on its own, this book was fantastic. It had a strange and wondrous concept that really surprised me when it presented itself in all its terrifying glory.
The island where the majority of the book took place was such a marvellous setting to the book – the animals that inhabited it, the vegetation, all of it was dark and oddly alluring and perfect to the story that takes place. It’s the kind of place that just oozes a type of dark history and it was a fantastic backdrop to the plot.
And what a plot it was. At first I couldn’t really see where the book was going – I didn’t read the description, but picked it up based off reviews and the cover and the title. But once the story started taking shape, everything fell into place. The beginning was slow, but the rest of the book makes up for it entirely. Everything flowed easily from one another after a certain point, and the characters’ reactions and actions were entirely believable – no simpering, silly heroines or overly brave heroes here.
Juliet, the main character of the story is fascinating. She’s dark, but she doesn’t want to be…but she kind of does. It’s this war between her instinctive curiosity and her sense of morality and ethics that really characterizes her and the relationships she has with the people around her – especially our two irresistible leads.
Montgomery (I love love love that name) is steady and strong and assured. I absolutely loved him (and I may be biased from his name) even though I’m not entirely sure why. He cares about Juliet, for sure, but his bond with Juliet’s father was something that irritated me to no end! He claimed to no longer be a servant and yet he acted in exactly that manner. I couldn’t quite figure it out. Edward, on the other hand, was no man’s servant. I was drawn to him because of how fiercely he wanted to, and did protect Juliet. He was brave and protective of her in the way that would make any lady swoon. Until the end of the book I couldn’t figure out who I wanted her to be with – and the end result left me flabbergasted.
Overall, The Madman’s Daughter was a thrilling read, with Gothic allure. Getting past the slow pace of the beginning, this book had everything I wanted and an ending I never would have predicted.