Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publish Date: January 29, 2013
Source: Publisher for honest review
Series: The Madman's Daughter #1
Rating: Hit/Direct Hit
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.
Um, Miss Shepherd, can you explain what you were thinking when you wrote the ending? Because really, that's just cruel. Now, it is a series, but I'm not really sure where things can go from here. I'm curious to see where Shepherd takes the story next.
Enough about the future of the series, though, let's talk about the story itself.
For some reason I have this idea in my head that all historical books are always really slow and boring. The Madman's Daughter is yet another in the genre to prove me wrong. It did move a bit slowly, but not in the boring sense. It was maddening when mysteries were hinted at and answers felt just within grasp, but in the most delicious way. And don't fret about the aforementioned ending, you get all the answers it's just heartwrenching.
Juliet is pretty badass especially considering the setting. Here she is in a world where women are thought to be delicate, ignorant creatures and she's not afraid to do what needs to get done. She works scrubbing laboratory floors so she can survive without prostituting herself, she studies medicine, she stands up to her father, she chooses a guy for herself, among countless other things. She's not afraid to ask for help, either, which is an awesome thing on its own. One of the things I truly loved her for, though, was how confused she was. She knew her father was mad and found the things he did sickening but was drawn to them as well. The internal struggle was both wonderful and terrible.
I suppose you'd like me to talk about the boys as well? I honestly don't consider it much of a love triangle. There are two guys and only one girl, yes, but Juliet states from the beginning who she wants,. She does get a little confused, yes, but I think it's pretty fair given the circumstances. Plus, she doesn't go about stringing them both along. She ends up kissing both, sure, but she clearly tells boy B that she has feelings for boy A.
Juliet's father is absolutely terrifying and I felt anger, hatred, fear, and pity for him. Sometimes all at once.
If you're squeamish you might just want to back away now. The animal dissections were described so vividly I found myself wanting to wash my brain clean of them a few times. That's not to mention how I felt for the animals themselves. Maybe it's the vegetarian in me, but I can't stand to see animals abused. I mean, those damn ASPCA commercials make me want to cry and go adopt them all. So reading about vivisection? Not exactly awesome. It was, however, an important part of the story and meant to disturb the reader.
The mysteries here are crazy. I mean, we have Juliet trying to figure out whether her father is truly mad or a misunderstood genius (I mean, yeah, he's mad, but Juliet has some serious internal struggles about it), weird-looking islanders, unexplained deaths, and just general shady personalities. It was practically torture at times, but you'll get all the answers in due time. And I promise I do mean all (unless I missed something.)
The Nutshell: the Madman's Daughter is historical fiction/fantasy, but it's definitely not all busy London streets and corsets. The bulk of the story takes place on the island and they don't exactly sit around having tea parties. The romance is a nice addition to the story, but the mystery and horror is what will keep you turning the pages.