Looking for a book that’s beautifully written, yet absolutely gruesome?
Try The Madman’s Daughter by debut author Megan Shepherd.
(Reviewed for the Debut Author Challenge and The Bookanistas.)
From Goodreads: 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.
I’ve been waiting to read The Madman’s Daughter since my first glimpse of its beautiful cover many months ago. There’s been no shortage of buzz surrounding this book, and now I see why. While it was a bit of a slow start for me (Juliet doesn’t arrive at her father’s creep-tastic island until about 100 pages in), there was so much about The Madman’s Daughter that I enjoyed…
- Author Megan Shepherd excels at penning a truly atmospheric setting, one that appeals to all the senses and is easy to get lost in. From the dark streets of London to the humid green jungle of Dr. Moreau’s island, I was completely immersed. Check it out: But what stole my attention was the mountainous green island looming off the port side, big as a kingdom, with a column of wispy gray smoke coming from its highest point… A soft line of sand touched the sea, edged by a cluster of palms waving in the breeze. The palms gave way to a wild tangle of jungle… (pg. 99)
- I found Juliet’s worries about inheriting her father’s “madness” fascinating What a scary, scary thing to know you share the blood of a man who possesses incredible talent, but at the same time, very dark delusions… Those things were all symptoms of the same sickness — a kind of madness inherited from my father. It was a dangerous pull in my gut drawing me toward the dark possibilities of science, toward the thin line between life and death, toward the animal impulses hidden behind a corset and a smile. (pg. 174)
- The Madman’s Daughter is full of evocative language and graphic imagery. Juliet’s first-person narration allowed me to see with perfect clarity everything she saw, to experience everything she experienced. Reading this novel was very much like watching a movie play out in my mind: I remembered only hints. Peeling skin on the dead woman’s face. Bloodstains on the canvas tarpaulin. Flies buzzing like thunderclouds. There was the lingering stench of blood in my mouth and the smell of lavender in the air. (pg. 229)
- The references to old school gender stereotypes — girls aren’t as strong as, as smart as, or as good at science as their male counterparts — made this story’s period setting feel particularly authentic, and the way Megan Shepherd presented these stereotypes was at times a bit of much-appreciated comedic relief. Take Juliet’s father who, while decidedly crazy, is very much like many of the men of his time: chauvinistic. He doubts his daughter’s intelligence and competency. There’s proof of that in his response to her admission that she started a kiss with his assistant, Montgomery (who I adored): “You’re a female. You can’t control yourself.” (pg. 334)
- And then there were the twists and turns… I won’t say too much for fear of ruining the surprises for you, but there were a few big reveals in this novel that caught me off guard The ending, especially, left me blinking in shock. I’m definitely looking forward to the next installment of this series.
Check out what a few of my fellow Bookanistas are up to:
Jessica Love adores ALSO KNOWN AS
Tracy Banghart announces her new novel, BY BLOOD
And learn more about the Debut Author Challenge HERE.
14 thoughts on “Book Rec: THE MADMAN’S DAUGHTER”
This book! I am so glad you highlighted it, Katy! I love how dark this book opened (that scene in the hospital where she takes the knife…lol…and the med students couldn’t even do it!) and I am interested to see where Megan takes Juliet next. I wish book 2 was already out! 🙂
Yes, that opening scene was bananas. I can’t wait to see what becomes of Juliet. The way she was left at the end of this book… Um. There’s really nowhere to go but up!
I’ve been waiting on this one for some time now. It’s on its way here in the mail and taking forever to arrive. I’m really looking forward to reading it, especially after reading your review and hearing what my sister had to say about it. 🙂
Hurry up, book! Don’t you hate when the mail delays the arrival of a book you’re anticipating? I hope you like it, Jaime. You’ll have to let me know. 🙂
I just finished reading THE MADMAN’S DAUGHTER earlier this week and really enjoyed it as well. In fact, I’d have to say it’s the best debut I’ve read so far. I didn’t know it was a trilogy until after I finished, so when I got to the ending I nearly shrieked out loud. Can’t wait for the sequel! And now that I’ve read your lovely review, I need to get working on mine.
Yeah, that ending pretty much had my jaw on the floor. Can you imagine if it WASN’T a trilogy?! Glad you liked it, Erin. I’m looking forward to your review. (I just went and followed your blog through Google Connect. I thought I already had, but apparently not? Anyway, situation remedied. :-))
I can’t wait to read this! Ahhh so many books!!
I hope you enjoy it, Steph!
This is on my DAC list–none of which I’ve read yet because I’ve been busy reading sequels to 2012 books. Maybe I’ll tackle this one first 🙂 Great review by the way. I love the sentences you pulled out of the story.
Thanks, Liz. Megan Shepherd really does write beautifully. I’ve only read three books from my DAC list, mostly because just like you, I’ve been catching up on 2012 books and reading some amazing 2013 sequels and follow-ups. I’m in the middle of THROUGH THE EVER NIGHT right now — SO GOOD!
Me too, Katy. I REALLY want to read this book – the cover hooked me, the premise hooked me. And now I definitely want to read it after reading this!
I hope you love it, Alison!
This sounds amazing! I´ve added it to my TBR as soon as I read about it. The cover is gorgeous and the story very original 😀 Now that I´ve read your review, I know I need to get my hands on it ❤
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