Google+ YA Romantics: Just Finished Reading ... The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepard

Monday, January 28, 2013

Just Finished Reading ... The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepard

The Madman's Daughter
by Megan Shepard
To be published by Balzer + Bray
on January 29, 2013

Source: ARC giveaway from the publisher at KidLitCon




My summary: After Juliet's father, a doctor, is publicly disgraced for allegedly carrying out bizarre and cruel medical experiments, he disappears. Then Juliet's mother dies, leaving her alone and penniless, working on a cleaning crew. But when Juliet finds evidence that her father might be alive, she tracks him down to a remote island, where she'll finally have to face the truth.


My take:  Okay, so the title should have given me a clue that this book is not for the faint of heart! I didn't remember the details of the H. G. Wells story that inspired The Madman's Daughter, but I LOVE historical fiction and gothic fiction. Based on the cover, was expecting mild spookiness but got something closer to horror.  If you're down with that, The Madman's Daughter is quite a thrill ride!

I don't think the character of Juliet exists in the H. G. Wells original, and she's a brilliant addition to the story. Juliet is first shamed by the discovery of her father's experiments, then orphaned, and falls further and further in society. But when she discovers evidence that her father may actually be alive, Juliet is determined to find him.

The Madman's Daughter is beautifully written and flawlessly plotted. The book doles out clues until the reader -- or at least this reader -- figures out two of the big twists and is squirming in suspense.  I loved Juliet's narrative voice. It was utterly compelling while still seeming true to the book's time period. The setting is phenomenally creepy -- I absolutely love books where a group of characters is trapped in an isolated location. The bad guy -- Dr. Moreau -- is the most intriguing kind of villain, the sort of person who's half-genius, half-madman. The book raises a lot of interesting moral and ethical issues.

In the love and romance department, there was a sort-of love triangle. Juliet feels very close to her father's assistant, Montgomery, whom she's known since childhood, and also to Edward, a handsome shipwreck survivor that she and Montgomery rescue as they sail to her father's island together. At first, I was surprised as the otherwise level-headed Juliet lurched from one guy to the other like a person on the deck of a boat in a storm. I finally realized that these relationships were necessary to the plot, but they never quite felt convincing as romances.

The book's ending was pitch-perfect, with a few last twists that were both wrenching and completely true to the story. But the ending also felt ... final, which got me a little confused, because the back of my ARC said that this The Madman's Daughter is part of a trilogy. Then I saw on Goodreads that book two will be based on The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson and the third book on Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. I'm so on board for those!

Small warning: if you are extremely squeamish and/or bothered by descriptions of animal cruelty, you might want to tread carefully. There was a point early in the story where I almost stopped reading. I'm really glad I didn't. I highly recommend The Madman's Daughter  to fans of horror and suspense, as well as those who love gritty historical fiction.

29 comments:

  1. See this was just too much for me-I'm definitely of the more squeamish type. Plus I hated the love triangle-so annoying!

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    1. Well, thanks for making me feel less wimpy. I got to that early scene in the medical school and felt kind of queasy. So I whipped out my phone and looked up the plot of the original novel. (Note to others: you can do this -- the ending of this retelling is completely different.)

      Once I was prepared, I did really enjoy this one and, honestly, a book based on that novel HAS to make most people squirm.

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  2. IDK, I can't do horror...is it gory?

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    1. It's not super-graphic. But that IS the story that's being retold. You can't really gloss over that stuff!
      Me, while reading: "it's only a book. Only a book."

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  3. Kate loved this one and even though I don't usually do historical, I love moral and ethical dilemas. Also crazy geniuses.... I think in order to be a genius you have to be crazy to some degree. If you thought the way normal people did, then you wouldn't be a genius, and it is always interesting how these deviations from the norm display themselves.

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    1. Try it -- i have a feeling you could love this one. And yes, you're right, a lot of geniuses are crazy, though this one is more out-there than most!

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  4. Never heard of this book but it sounds really good. I like to read historical books from time to time and its been a while since I've read one. I'll have to get this! Great review :)
    World of Books

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  5. not sure I could cope with this one - horror and historical fiction? yikes! glad you enjooyed it though :)

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  6. This is one I think I would enjoy in audio!

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    1. Let me know if you try it! Love your audio review.

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  7. I enjoy historical fiction and gothic romance, but not horror. I'm not sure The Madman's Daughter would be the book for me, but I know many are loving it.
    Great review!

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  8. I love horror although I hate animal cruelty in books. I do love The Island of Dr. Moreau and find the whole mad scientist plot fascinating. The love triangle sounds lame though. I think I'm Team Montgomery. LOL Funny how I know before I even start reading.

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    1. I agree -- though the whole story has to do with animals. Yes, I say you'd be Team Montgomery too!

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  9. I have not read the original that inspired this one but it sounds really good! I never even realized it was part of a trilogy! I am really excited about the rest of the books, especially what she can do with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I'll be reading this soon. :)

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    1. I'm not sure if the stories are going to be connected in any way -- if anyone knows, tell me.

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  10. I'm starting to have a real problem with books inspired by other books, however, having said that, I DESPERATELY want to read this one.

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    1. I think this is a winner in the retelling department. Adding to Juliet to the story was really a great idea.

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  11. I'm so excited to read this book! It looks awesome, and I haven't heard one bad thing about it.

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  12. I totally want to read this even though I know it's probably going to scare the crap out of me. It just looks too good to pass up. I think Kate had similar thoughts on this being a standalone rather than a trilogy.

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    1. I think I found it creepy and disturbing more than scary. And I'm curious to see if the three books are completely separate, or if a few characters cross over. Maybe Juliet can be a kind of Zelig character who pops up in all the stories!

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  13. I love the ethical and moral questions this novel raised...it even got me so bothered that I yelled at the hubby while he was watching some hunting show where they were targeting a bear. I mean, killing just for sport goes against everything I believe, but my husband retorted that they are overpopulating, yada, yada, yada. So, yeah...good discussion point. :P This book was so deliciously creepy, and the gore isn't sooo bad...not after that first bit, anyway. The screaming!!!! Gah, I almost put the book down, too, at that point, but I'm glad I soldiered on. Great review!

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  14. I really enjoyed this book too, squeamish stuff and all! I love books that tackle moral and ethical questions and still remain entertaining to the average joe. And I am SO excited for the next two books too, I love how she's basing them all on different classic literature works but is still tying them together:)

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  15. There are a lot of mixed reviews out there for this book. I wonder if it's because of the horror. I actually like that but I'm not so sure about the animal cruelty. That might be hard for me to handle. That's my one weakness - I can read almost anything else.

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  16. Thanks for clearing up the trilogy question! I really liked this book, but couldn't figure out how it was going to fill up two more books!

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  17. This one sounds very interesting! I really didn't know what to think of this story ... I haven't read it yet, but I'm mostly intrigued by the cover. Glad to hear that the story itself is quite interesting! I love a good horror read. :)

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