Author: Megan Shepherd
Release Date: January 29, 2013
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Description: 432 pages, Young Adult Fiction
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.
Having been met with an overwhelming sense of consolation and reprieve after bringing to light the almost jocular fact that The Madman’s Daughter was the first book in a series (which would have been outrageous otherwise), I came to the sorry conclusion that this book was, despite a myriad of recommendations, slightly underwhelming, if not entirely disappointing. A diehard fan of classic retellings, I greeted the book with optimal expectations, only partly met with the proper vindication. Notwithstanding, many of the scenes were indeed spellbinding, the plot twists unprecedented in every respect, yet it didn’t turn out to be the masterpiece that would mercilessly abnegate me from adequate sleep. Parts of the story dragged for too long in between the exciting scenes, and most of the characters retrogressed with each turn of the page. The love triangle was delightful at first, and futile for a time after, the pathetic excuse for resolve it was given massively frustrating. I wanted to enjoy this book, more than I dare to imagine, and even if I did admire the beginning and the end, I didn’t love it from beginning to end. This of course was profoundly unfortunate.
Between Then And Hereafter
Juliet was, at first, a strong and single-minded heroine, had more to her first name than a Shakespearean reference, and more to her last name than a shameful heritage from an infamous criminal. I loved how she kept earnest and unflagging despite the fact that her life was in utter disarray. I admired her perfunctory call to action, and how she acknowledged her failures and played to her strengths. In due time, however, her character deteriorated just as cursorily as what was left of my adoration. She became foolhardy instead of brave, selfish instead of loyal, and condescending instead of reassuring. Nonetheless, I did love how she gave herself time to sort her feelings out for both Edward and Montgomery before making decisions that could hurt either one, and I lauded her ability to speak her mind and not stand in consternation at the consequences of her actions, if she knew without a shadow of a doubt that she was doing the right thing. Outside of either circumstance however, she was rash, self-absorbed, half-mad, and a massive pain in the behind. I didn’t want to dislike her, but her idiocies superseded her achievements. Bigtime.
Love Lost And Love Found
Montgomery was likely my favorite character, because he was allegiant, yet righteous, ambitious yet down-to-earth. He performed shady tricks that seemed distasteful on the surface, but I loved how I completely empathized with his character and agreed with his reasoning, at least most of the time. He was a sentimental person, yet not to the point that he became exceedingly melodramatic, and I loved how he was attractive, not necessarily in the sense that he had washboard abs and was excruciatingly handsome (though he fits snugly into both criteria). Instead, he was thoughtful and made it a point to look after his responsibilities, and in stark contrast to Juliet, I completely embraced his character from start to finish. Edward, on the other hand, was an enigma, and in lieu of the fact that I never could come to grips with the fact that he wouldn’t think twice to put Juliet in harm’s way, I never truly warmed up to his character either. Suffice it to say that he usually just gave me the jeepers creepers.
Shadows In The Night
The book as a whole didn’t do me many favors, although I did relish in the fact that it was far from predictable. Whenever things got fascinating, I was hooked, although it was hapless how the exciting divvies encompassed less of the book than I could have hoped for. As Juliet kept on getting disoriented, leading herself astray and further into the dangers of the wilderness, or if not, questioning her own sanity and hesitating at every cornerstone, many of the scenes that should have been captivating only served to vex me even further. Despite this, the last few pages remained enjoyable, and though it wasn’t near enough to attain redemption, I do believe that this book could have done with better characterization and not much else.
If you are into unique spins on beloved classics and mystery novels like myself, in the hopes that you find the book better suited to your liking (although I still am looking forward to Her Dark Curiosity), I suggest you give this one a go.
So what do you think of this book? If you haven’t read it, will you? Sound off in the comments below!