Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Madman's Daughter

The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd
3/5 stars
Balzer + Bray, 2013
420 pages
YA Historical Thriller Sci-Fiction

Source: Received an ARC through Amazon Vine in exchange for an honest review.

To start, I thought I had read The Island of Doctor Moreau but about halfway through this book, I looked at the wikipedia page and realized that I had not in fact read the book. That explained why so much seemed unfamiliar. Now that I have read the synopsis I do not expect to ever read it as I do not think I will enjoy it.

What I Liked: I loved the beginning, which is just a straight historical. Juliet Moreau is the daughter of a disgraced now deceased doctor, plunged from genteel life to eking out a living as a maid and fending off advances from predatory males. After stumbling across students attempting to duplicate her father's vivisections, the controversial procedure that led to his downfall, she is shaken but reunites with her family's servant Montgomery who reluctantly agrees to take her to her father's island for it is either that journey or resigning Juliet to a life of prostitution. The historical details were just the kind I liked-painting a vivid description of the dark side of Victorian London. Although there are some creepy moments as Juliet ponders her father's experiments, it is mostly the calm before the storm.

What I Was Neutral About: Once on the island, Juliet has an uneasy reunion with her father and learns more about how he has continued his work, playing God by attempting to turn animals into human-like creatures. She is mostly horrified as she knows polite society would be but she feels that she in part takes after her father and is thus also impressed with his work. This mix of feelings causes her great unease. Despite the measures taken to protect the safety of the island's human inhabitants, the wrongness of the experiments still hangs over and the unrest of the animal-men adds a very scary element to the book.

What I Disliked: or more appropriately perhaps, "What I Loathed": there is a love triangle. Montgomery is one component, having been close to Juliet in her former life and having now grown into a fine young man. The other is Edward Prince, a gentleman and thus closer to Juliet in status, who was shipwrecked and brought to the island due to Juliet's compassion. It's not that I hated either guy (although I didn't really like them); it's that I hated Juliet's feelings about the guys. Oh my, she could not have been more back and forth about them. One sentence she'd talk about how into Montgomery she was and then the very next sentence would be gushy about Edward. It was awful and ever so annoying.

Overall, because of how much time was spent on the back and forth over the two guys, I did not like this book and I think there will be others who hate that same aspect. On a more personal note, I as someone who was creeped out by the very descriptive scenes surrounding Moreau's work in creating his new animal-men-those of us with weaker stomachs will likely be turned off.

Cover: I've read quite a few Waiting on Wednesday posts that gushed over the cover but I don't really like it. I know I love covers with pretty dresses but this dress is not pretty and I find the red type so close to her red ribbon distracting.

Question: Have you read The Island of Doctor Moreau? If you did and if you liked it, can you give me some reasons why I shouldn't just write it off?

Other Opinions
Beauty and the Bookshelf-loved it!
Reading Under the Willow Tree-4/5 stars
The YA Kitten-3/5 stars


  1. I never read The Island of Doctor Moreau but I'm pretty sure I watched the movie. I love mad scientist stories. I was really excited about this although I did hear it gets rather horrific with animal abuse which I'm not to keen on. I also HATE love triangles and this ones sounds super sucky with the back and forth. I'm sure I will hate that as well. But I'll still give it a go as I love horror.

  2. I still liked this book more than I didn't like it, but, had the love triangle not existed or been better done, this would have been SUCH a good book. It's really a shame.

  3. Thanks for an honest review! I have not read Island of Dr. M either, but I did put a hold on this at the lib. I am happy I didn't buy a copy, and I will see how it goes.

  4. Ha -- you and I usually agree on books, but clearly I liked this more than you did. Completely agree that the love triangle was unnecessary and unconvincing. And I share your squeamishness about the gruesome stuff, but that's the original story. As much as I disliked reading it, I had to admit it needed to be there.

    What I loved: as a retelling, I thought this was brilliant. The addition of Juliet makes the story even better. I thought the writing was good. I'm assuming all the Shakespeare stuff was not in the original (I haven't read it either) but I thought that was a great addition. And I thought the plotting and pacing were excellent.

  5. Awe, I was really looking forward to this one. Matter of fact it is on my list for the next time I make it into the city and go to the books store. Thanks for the honest review. I might have to just get it from the library first. :(

    Jenea @ Books Live Forever

  6. Glad you liked the beginning but sorry the triangle didn't do it for you. I don't much like the cover either.
    Hope you get to read it soon!
    <3 Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog

  7. I've heard so much hype for this one, and yet the two reviews I've read for it today have been pretty "so so". I don't think this will be one I'll pick up.

  8. I've seen such a mix of reviews and feelings on this one that I just may have to read it.

  9. This book seems like it would be weirdly fascinating, but there's no way I would be able to handle a love triangle like that! I do like the cover, although now that you've pointed out the red on red, I like it slightly less :)

  10. I am really curious to see what I will think of this one - everyone has been having such mixed opinions.

  11. Freaky, I like it! I have seen this one around a lot, and I am so curious about it

  12. I agree that the medical descriptions were very stomach churning - I have a weakness for body horror, but I can take it when I am actually reading a horror novel. (If it showed up in science fiction, I'd be more turned off.)

    I liked the love triangle better than you, but I honestly would be overjoyed to never read a love triangle again.


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