Thursday, November 28, 2013

Book Review: The Madman's Daughter

The Madman's Daughter
Published By: Balzer & Bray
Publication Date: January 29, 2013
Page Count: 432
Source: Purchased by Reviewer
Audience: Young Adult - Gothic, Classic Inspired

I have never read The Island of Dr. Moreau, the inspiration behind this tale, but I'm intrigued by YA novels that have elements of classic literature and historical fiction. I was lucky enough to score an ARC of the second book in this series so I figured it was time to get started on this one.  I think not knowing much about the original work helped me enjoy this one even more. I didn't know what to expect from the plot. The Madman's Daughter is a gothic thriller that is written with gorgeous prose.

Juliet Moreau comes from a life of wealth and privilege, but all that changes when her father, the brilliant Dr. Moreau, is accused of conducting gruesome experiments in his lab. Her father disappears leaving Juliet and her mother buried underneath his debt and the swirling rumors. After selling off their home and possessions, the pair must learn to survive on the streets of London. After Juliet's mother dies of consumption, she must go to work as a maid at the local medical university. The doctors and constant blood from surgeries remind her of her father and the childhood that was stolen away on the whispers of London society. A chance encounter brings her face to face with a young man who is intimately acquainted with her family and a chilling adventure ensues.


I don't want to speak too much about what happens on the island, but it chilled my blood. My imaginings about the island and its inhabitants were the stuff of nightmares. I can't even begin to imagine how people who read the original after it was first released must have felt. This tale is not a light hearted romance on a tropical island. The Madman's Daughter truly focuses on the darkness that lurks within the human soul and how greatness can often lead to madness.

I also am fascinated by medical history. The Madman's Daughter is laced with information about medical practices during this time period as well as gender issues. Juliet is often underestimated because women are not supposed to know anything about medicine and science. She has had to learn everything in secret, but she often knows far more than the men that surround her. I love seeing strong women in time periods where they have little value to society beyond the home.

I loved that this read more like a piece of literary fiction than a true YA novel. The writing is complex and beautiful. I appreciate that Shepherd didn't alter the style in order to please the YA masses. This is not simply brain candy; The Madman's Daughter is thought provoking, alluring, and can hold its own with adult novels of the same genre. Not only am I excited to read the next one (cliffhanger alert!), but I wish that more authors would begin writing YA that reads like classic literary fiction.


One Last Gripe: I did figure out one of the major twists about half way through, but that didn't derail my enjoyment. I gathered evidence, but wasn't positive I was right until the grand unveiling in the final chapters. It should also be noted that there were numerous twists that I didn't predict as well.

My Favorite Thing About This Book: It's so hard to pick one thing and I know I mentioned it in the body of the review, but I was in love with the writing. Seriously, I have a major crush on Shepherd's word choice.

First Sentence: The basement hallways in King's College of Medical Research were dark, even in the daytime.

Favorite Character: Juliet

Least Favorite Character: Dr. Moreau



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.


16 comments:

  1. we are on the same boat here it seems, i too got an arc of the second book, so i knew i need to read the first one, i'll begin next week... and just like you i haven't read the island of Dr. Moreau, so yes i'm won't be comparing it.... but your review has relieved me, now i can't wait to begin it......

    great review
    Aparajita @Le' Grande Codex

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    1. I'm so glad that my review made you excited to read this one. I wasn't sure if I would like it, but it blew me away. I'd love to hear your thoughts after you've had a chance to read it.

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  2. Awesome review. I can't wait for the sequel either. Thanks!

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    1. Thanks for taking the time to read my review and leave a comment. I'm planning to get to my ARC of the sequel in late December.

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  3. I've been loving the re-tellings so much lately! This was another great one. I'm so excited for Her Dark Curiosity!

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    1. I just finished Her Dark Curiosity yesterday; I loved it, but this one is still my favorite of the two. My review of Her Dark Curiosity will be up next week if you're interested.

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  4. I have heard so many great thins about this book. I really need to get on the ball and pick it up.

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    1. It's one I'd highly recommend - stellar writing, gothic/classical influence, and an addicting page turner.

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  5. I haven't read the original story, but I love retellings and this one sounds so good! I really want to read it at some point!

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    1. This is an amazing novel. The sequel will be out in January and it's top notch as well. I highly recommend them.

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  6. Ohhhh, *Shivers*. I. Am. So. In.! :-)

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  7. This was awesome but the animal torture stuff was difficult to really read through.

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  8. who knew a debut author could a write so amazing!

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  9. Gothic books aren't one I usually branch out to, but I'm willingly to give this one a try. Great review!

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  10. I never read The Island of Dr. Moreau but I did see the movie! I have seen this book and read other reviews on it but none of them made me as interested in the book as yours did. Thank you for a great review!

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  11. This is definitely a book I wouldn't normally pick up, but it sounds really intriguing and I think after reading your review, I might just have to get it!

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