No Man is an Island: THE MADMAN’S DAUGHTER by Megan Shepherd

Posted 27 January, 2013 | Mary @ TheBookSwarm | | 8 Comments

YA Gothic
432 pages, hardcover
Available January 29, 2013
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Review copy provided by publisher via Amazon Vine

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.

Back in high school, we were forced to read Wuthering Heights, a dark, gothic romance. I hated it. The only part I liked was the setting, complete with windswept moors and odd noises. But I didn’t let this one little book stand in my way of exploring the gothic genre. Some books I liked, some I didn’t (as is the way with most genres). Still, the genre itself stuck with me.

So, when the opportunity arose to read THE MADMAN’S DAUGHTER, I snatched it. And I’m very glad I did. While it isn’t among my favorite books of the year, it was definitely intriguing and strangely mesmerizing as thick jungle foliage replaces windswept moors, filled with oddly deformed and bloodthirsty creatures.

When we meet young Juliet, she’s a maid, just trying to survive after losing everything due to her father’s beyond-the-pale experiments. Her mother’s dead. Her father’s gone, as is all of their money. She’s lost all but one of her friends. It seems quite hopeless.

Until she finds a piece of paper that seems to indicate something of her father survived. She follows that clue and discovers Montgomery, her father’s assistant, packing supplies to take to her not-dead-yet father and convinces him to take her along.

The island where Dr. Moreau lives is uber-creepy, filled with botched experiments, animals made to look and act human, and death around every corner. To top it off, Juliet’s father doesn’t much care for his daughter being there, despite her desperate situation back in England. At first, Juliet can’t believe that the island’s natives are creations of Dr. Moreau until she looks beneath the surface, poking and prodding until she discovers not just one but multiple disturbing truths.

A love triangle of sorts evolves between Montgomery, Juliet and a castaway named Edward but doesn’t turn into much, in this installment anyway. Instead, Edward lends another layer of mystery and darkness, as he pushes Juliet to seek out what’s really happening on this island. Juliet herself was a bit hard to connect with as she waffles between hating what her father is doing and wanting to know more, possibly even attempting some medical experiments herself. The other characters were cast in ever-changing shadows, hard to pin down and get a clear picture of.

As I finished the last page and closed the book, I wished this wasn’t a series. While I’m not exactly sure why that thought crossed my mind, I think it might be because the book is disturbing and I both do and don’t want to read any more. THE MADMAN’S DAUGHTER is a well-written gothic tale that’s best read in front of a roaring fire, candles ablaze, and a warm dog to protect you from Dr. Moreau’s creations.

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8 Responses to “No Man is an Island: THE MADMAN’S DAUGHTER by Megan Shepherd”

  1. There were so many creepy moments in this book! It ultimately ended up being a little too dark for me and I don’t think I’ll continue on with the series (how will she even make this into a series?)

  2. I’m diving into my ARC tonight, I can’t wait! I love well-written Gothics. I’ve heard a few people agree with your wish that this wasn’t a series. I completely understand how you feel—some books have that strange effect of making me too disturbed to continue, but too fascinated to stop reading as well. Fabulous review!

  3. Jo

    I’ve been waiting for this one – so nice to read your review. I’ll be looking forward to grabbing this from the library. 🙂

  4. Wow this one definitely seems intriguing. I’ve seen it around everywhere, but I can’t say I’ve read any reviews until now. It seems like it might be a bit slow or strange for my tastes, but I do look forward to reading more people’s thoughts before I decide whether or not to check it out.