Saturday, April 13, 2013

Review: The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepard

Title: The Madman's Daughter (The Madman's Daughter #1)
Author: Megan Shepard
Publisher: Balzar + Bray
Release Date: January 29th, 2013
Source: Won (Thanks Kathy!)

My Rating: 3/5

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 Madman's Daughter is a dark and breathless Gothic thriller about the secrets we'll do anything to know and the truths we'll go to any lengths to protect.
I had been hearing lots about this book at the beginning of the year, and knew I would have to check it out for myself soon enough. When some book club members suggested it for our first pick I thought it was a great opportunity to check this book out. Sadly, though, it did not live up to my expectations. 

One of the problems I had with this story was a simple matter of believability. In every novel, especially in one with subject matter so far-fetched, you have to suspend disbelief somewhat. They should make sense, for sure, but if somethings are a little iffy you can let them go in favor of enjoying the overall story. In the case of The Madman's Daughter though, I could not look past some of the impossible features. The writing left me feeling very distanced from the story which caused me to question a lot of it. I could not picture these creatures whatsoever, and found there descriptions utterly confusing. There were parts of the story where I sat back and thought "How in the world would that work?" which had me pretty put off. I felt like things were told but not explained, and the overall plot suffered from that.

As I mentioned in the previous paragraph, I felt completely disconnected from the story. I really think I could have enjoyed this story more had I been invested in the story. Instead, I felt I was watching the events from afar and had no real commitment to the outcome. The only time I felt a moment of emotion was with Balthazar. He was a character that surprised you. That made you love him in such a subtle but powerful way. I felt a huge commitment to his well being, where as the other characters I could take or leave. I liked that Juliet was a girl far ahead of her time. She was strong-willed and intelligent which are qualities I admire. I liked that she didn't take no for an answer, and didn't always make the right decision. She was probably my favorite part of the book.

The love triangle, on the other hand, I had no real attachment to. Juliet was fretting over who she should choose and I truly didn't care who it was that was chosen. I found Montgomery to be relatively flat as a character, and Edward to be just okay. I also found that the relationships almost seemed rushed. Juliet went from being completely undecided to picking one in a matter of pages. It didn't seem entirely genuine to me. 

Something I cannot handle in books, or in anything really, is animal cruelty. I can't fault the book for having it considering that was a main plot point, but it was still too much for me. I skimmed portions, hid my eyes at others, and had to even put the book down once. It was too much and affected my ability to like the book. It did give a creepy and foreboding atmosphere to the book that I could feel until the very last page. It was not my cup of tea, but it was a true component to the story.

I really did love the themes and questions Megan Shepard wove throughout the book. The "monsters" who acted with such humanity contrasted starkly with the cruel humans in the novel. It made you question the definition of humanity, and had me completely intrigued. I also loved the setting, which gave a mysterious and almost savage edge to the story. Shepard created a dark and twisted story, set in a dark and twisted land.

Although the book had some fantastic moments and very interesting themes, the novel as a whole fell flat for me. A combination of unclear writing, and uncomfortable subject matter, The Madman's Daughter just wasn't the book for me.

- Ciara (Lost at Midnight)

Find This Book: Amazon | Chapters/Indigo | Goodreads | Megan Shepard's Website

1 comment:

  1. I've heard a lot of mixed reviews about this book - especially about the love triangle. But I am still intrigued by it. Great review!


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