Saturday, January 19, 2013

Early Review - The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd

The Madman's Daughter is a supposedly a retelling of H. G. Wells's 1896 classic The Island of Dr. Moreau. I do remember the 1996 movie with the same name starring Marlon Brando as the nefarious and disturbing Dr. Henri Moreau who crossed the line in creating humans from animals. It also starred Val Kilmer as Montgomery James who appears in this story as Juliet’s love interest and former childhood friend/servant but in reality was a complacent in the experimenting of animals as his mentor Dr. Moreau.

“I was my father’s daughter after all. My nightmares were made of darker things.” 

Set in 1896, Sixteen-year-old Juliet Moreau has been left behind by her once famous father and the recent death of her mother from consumption. Left to her own devices by a cruel and mean London society who bears her ills and hatred because of who her father is; she’s forced to take on menial jobs in order to be able to put food on her table and pay for her experimental medication for her rare but undiscovered condition.

After fighting off unwanted advances by a demented college professor, Juliet is forced to flee London and makes the rash decision to join Montgomery James who is heading back to Moreau’s Island with supplies. Juliet had previously thought her father was dead since he made no effort in contacting her for nearly 6 years. Finding out that he’s been alive all this time riles Juliet to the core but she’s willing to forgo making final judgments until she can speak to her father directly.
On the way to the Island, Juliet and Montgomery discover a castaway named Edward who has spent 20 days adrift without any food, or water. Edward is definitely sort of a mystery which leads to Juliet having conflicted feelings toward him. Edward is totally different from the original telling of this story in that he’s more than he seems and his secrets are way more than Juliet can take.

“Nothing about the island was predictable. It was alive as a person, full of whims and lies and contradictions.”

Upon arriving on the Island, Juliet quickly learns that not everything is black and white or simplistic in nature. Not even her romantic feelings for Montgomery and Edward. Moreau has captured the island's animals and painfully turned them into half-men, then forces them to live by strict standards that he believes will overcome their bestial natures. Moreau's issues them sort of his own commandments.

“Thou shalt not crawl in the dirt. Thou shalt not drink spirits. Thou shalt not eat flesh of living creatures (meat). Thou shalt not roam at night. Thou shalt not kill other men.” These commandments are recipes for horror and suspense.

Juliet’s character is easy to admire and engage with and able to connect to. The other characters on the island are similarly interesting and make this a story worth being compared to its predecessor in every way. I loved the fact that Juliet is not a Mary Sue character. When it comes to defending herself against everyone from a psychotic professor, to beasts on the island, she barely blinks and makes quick decisions. Her loathing for her father is well placed and understandable since he lied to her for 16 years about pretty much everything including her own unknown illness that requires an experimental medication. When he finally reveals what he did to his own daughter, it wasn’t much of a surprise considering who Dr. Moreau has become.

For those who have read my previous reviews, you know that I have a love hate relationship with love triangles. The Madman’s Daughter once again forces me to choose whether or not I am going to let something like a love triangle come in the way of liking the overall story. In this case, Juliet’s love for both characters was misplaced and leads to a defining moment in the cliffhanger ending.

However, I will still recommend this novel for those who enjoy Gothic and Dark Fantasy. I will definitely be keeping an eye out for the sequel to this book.

Thank you to Edelweiss and Harper Collins Children’s for a review copy of this book.
Title - The Madman's Daughter #1
Author - Megan Shepherd
Publisher - Balzer & Bray
Release Date - January 29, 2013
Genre - Gothic, Horror, Young Adult

1 comment:

  1. I love gothic horror books! And dark fantasy can be really fun. But...20 days without food or water? Wouldn't he be...dead? after, like, five days max? :O Hm.

    Frickin' love triangles! If they're done well they can be amazing, but most of them AREN'T. Bleh. I'm glad that didn't stop you from enjoying this book, though!