Summary (via jacket copy):
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.
The Madman’s Daughter is based on The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells so I should have known that there would be some disturbing aspects to the story. Dr. Moreau conducted gruesome experiments using vivisection on live animals to make them human-like. As imagined, this is a pretty disturbing subject and Shepherd doesn’t shy away from delving into it. The animal cruelty got to be too much for me so I stopped reading half way through the book. But after a week I just couldn’t resist picking it up and finishing it. I felt compelled to find out how Shepherd was going to end her story with Juliet. About a hundred pages from the end I was so immersed in the story I couldn’t put the book down. It was raw and gruesome but entrancing in its twists and turns. Once Juliet became aware of some of the island’s secrets things just really picked up for me, as the story shifted gears from mystery to a horrific adventure tale.
Juliet is a woman that has nothing on her side, from her father’s abandonment to her mother’s death she is left with nothing but her wits to survive. I liked her for the most part but I was disappointed in her wavering between men. I could understand to some degree her attraction to both but the love triangle aspect took away from the story to me more than adding to it. Also, with the horror of her surroundings, I found it hard to understand her capability to focus so much on two men and their attractions. At first I was not fond of Montgomery but as the story progressed I became drawn to him the most of all the characters and able to overlook his flaws. I would love to read more on Montgomery’s experiences as a child though I can’t imagine it would be anything but disturbing. Dr. Moreau is horrific yet I was interested in knowing more about him and his madness, how did he digress so far into his insanity?
The Madman’s Daughter was a horrific read that verged on too gruesome to me on many occasions but overall was an intriguing story and wonderful retelling of The Island of Dr. Moreau. With the ending that Shepherd pulled I will be reading the sequel, especially since it will be based on Jekyll and Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. The third in the series will be based on Frankenstein. I love that Megan Shepherd is taking classic Gothic horror and revitalizing it and excited (yet terrified) that there will be a movie.
The Madman’s Daughter book trailer: