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Review: The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Madman's Daughter
Megan Shepherd

Series: The Madman's Daughter #1
Genre: YA GothicHistorical, Science Fiction
Hardback: 432 Pages
Publication: January 29, 2013
by Balzer & Bray


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 writing was lighter than I'd have expected of a Gothic novel. I was hoping for more darkness and exploration of the horrors on the island. It's okay that it doesn't go into substantial detail of the islanders; however, the details that are given are poorly organized in context, and they aren't ones that evoked horror within me. I know that the islanders should creep me out, but they just seemed like harmless creatures with some disfigurement. The same goes for the beast. So much suspense is supposed to be going on with the beast on the loose, but the plot is so unfocused and Juliet is kept so out of the loop that it didn't wasn't scary. It would have been nice to see Juliet investigate more on her own to help focus and further the plot. She's so powerless on the island that the addition of another perspective or two could also have helped flesh out the story.

The characters are flat and poorly developed. For the most part, Juliet is a likable character. She knows that her intelligence and curiosity makes her different from other girls, but she doesn't reject it. Still, she doesn't really grow as a character over the course of the novel; the largest change is her final acceptance about her father and who she is. However, the progression of her thoughts and feelings aren't really shown. More internal dialogue may have helped develop her character better, such as showing when she first suspects that her father may have done more than a simple surgery to correct her spine when she was an infant.

There isn't much substance to the guys other than an attractive face and a desire to protect Juliet, and her father is so wrapped up in his research he doesn't care about anyone unless they have a use for him. The romance was poorly done. While some of the scenes get a little swoony, there doesn't really seem to be a point to the kissing except the guys trying to claim Juliet. I'm getting a little tired of guys kissing girls without asking for their permission or bothering to check that there is more than a shared sexual attraction between them. The most intriguing development is learning about the secrets that Edward carries.

The premise to the story is interesting, but it could have been better executed. The Madman's Daughter doesn't have the power to stand alone as a novel. The plot is weak and the characters don't show any growth. It feels more like it's setting the stage for something greater to take place. Nevertheless, I am curious as to where the series will progress and will give the next book a try.

Additional Information
  1. The Madman's Daughter
  2. Her Dark Curiosity
  3. Untitled

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6 comments on "Review: The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd"
  1. Honest reviews--I appreciate them; I learn from them. Thanks for providing them.

    1. Thanks, Susan. I'm glad to know that it helps!

  2. Oh this sounds kind of disappointing. I'm not really into gothic novels but I heard some buzz about The Madman's daughter when it first came out but then it stopped. I was going to download the sequel on EW and just do a reading binge but I think The Madman's daughter is just going to gain dust in my ereader unless I have nothing better to do.

    Aly @ My Heart Hearts Books

    1. The sequel does get better, but not really until the end when the plot starts picking up. I honestly don't have high hopes for the series, but I'm intrigued enough by where Her Dark Curiosity left off to give the third book a try.

  3. I started this one awhile back then put it down because I just couldn't get into it. I'm glad I gave it up because I don't think I would have enjoyed it. Character growth is really important and so is that connection between reader and writing. Too bad about this one!

    1. I get that feeling. If I can't connect with the characters and see them grow, it takes away from my enjoyment of the book.


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