Thursday, 2 October 2014

REVIEW || The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd

Book Title: The Madman's Daughter (The Madman's Daughter #1)
Author: Megan Shepherd
Publisher: Balzer + Bray, January 29th, 2013
Source: Bought
Format: Paperback, 420 pages
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository
Sixteen-year-old Juliet Moreau has built a life for herself in London - working as a main, 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. Accompanies by her father's handsome young assistant, Montgomery, and an enigmatic castaway, Edwards - 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 experiments 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 its too late. Yet as the island falls into chaos, she discovers the extent of her father's genius - and madness - in her own blood.
I've had my eye on this trilogy for the past couple of months and I originally bought the second book (Her Dark Curiosity) but decided not to read it until I got the first book, and I eventually bought it and finally read it the other day - I don't usually post reviews of books a few days after I've read them, but I really wanted to talk about this one because its just so unique and I genuinely loved it.

The concept of the series was really what drew me in in the first place - I adore re-tellings and whilst The Madman's Daughter wasn't an exact retelling but was rather inspired by the classic by H.G. Wells, The Island of Dr. Moreau. I loved the accurate re-creation of the era, the way you just knew straight off that this was not present day, and the underlying darkness that filtered in throughout the early stages of the book was excellent. You really got such good descriptions in the book that everything felt alive in quite a vintage way [does that even make sense? again, I'm terrible with trying to explain things properly...] and the different atmosphere's created were just brilliant, for example you get the real feel of the grittiness of the city and the alienation [for want of a better word] of the island and its inhabitants.

Of course there was a vague [maybe not so vague...] love triangle, and I admit I'm slightly biased as all my experience with love triangles and books hasn't been exactly positive. As I mentioned to Arianne in a little Twitter conversation the romance in The Madman's Daughter wasn't terrible, not by far, but personally I found it quite average [albeit the context] and I would have preferred something that was maybe a little more original - which was a bit disappointing because that was pretty much the only downside to the book.

Onto the more scientific side of the novel - I know for a fact that Juliet and I share at least one quality, and that is her scientific curiosity. Whilst I've never seen a live dissection, or vivisection or anything that Juliet has experienced I still have that same curiosity - a thirst for knowledge, I suppose you could call it - and I just find a lot of things fascinating; like breathing, or the sky and many more things that I'm not going to mention because them I'll go off and talk about them for ages. So this novel was basically an extension of my wanting to experience, and theorize [even if it is fictional] something that I would have usually associated with Frankenstein, or the show The Addams Family, in a rather comical way - I did spend moments putting it into realistic context but Megan Shepherd widened those boundaries so much more. And it really was that much more realistic, it seems absolutely possible. And that's what fiction is all about, right? Making the impossible possible?

Well, I ended up going off on a bit of a spin anyway, but hopefully that conveys how good this book was - I do have to say that for around two-thirds of the book nothing as thrilling as death and experiments really happens but its written in such a way, like it keeps tugging at you to read on, that its not boring, instead its intriguing.

SPOILER ALERT: The next paragraph contains spoilers for the ending of The Madman's Daughter and the first half of Her Dark Curiosity (they have been covered!) YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED

I have to say I loved the ending to pieces, throughout the entire book I was just wondering how the author was going to end it and I honestly thought it was going to be terrible. Well, to be clear, not terrible as in this-is-such-bad-writing-please-drown-me terrible but as in I personally wouldn't like the way it ended, but it was bloody brilliant. Maybe this shows that I'm a little bit mad myself, but I really like that Shepherd killed off Edward and made Montgomery betray Juliet, unfortunately now that I'm currently reading Her Dark Curiosity I've found out that Edward wasn't actually killed [which, to be fair, I did suspect] and now that opens up possibilities of Montgomery coming back too, sigh. It was still a pretty good ending nonetheless.

In general, I recommend this to anyone who enjoys a good thriller and/or psychological book, historical novels, or re-tellings - but I do urge any and everyone to give this book a go!

Rating = 4 Bookish Birds

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