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28 Jan 2014

Book Review: The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd

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 rumours 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.


From the blurb of The Madman's Daughter I wasn't really sure what to expect from the story but I assumed it was going to take place after the original story by HG Wells. When it came to the point in the book that Juliet finds her father is alive and they pick up a castaway in Edward Prince I realised that this wasn't going to be the retelling I was interested in.

In fact, to be honest, it wasn't a retelling at all. I've read The Island of Dr Moreau and all I was reading was a rehash of the same plot and same events with a daughter thrown in and Edward Prendick turning into Edward Prince instead. I was a little disappointed because this is what I expect in fanfiction, not a published story. I was hoping for something new.  In the end I didn't think much of the story purely due to a huge lack of originality.  Montgomery was in the same role as Well's Montgomery except made much younger and attractive.  The same goes from Edward Prince.  I think as a writer you can create a better inspired character that involves more than simply changing the surname from Prendick to Prince.  Shakespeare might have gotten away with that back in the day but in the end, it is still not an original character.

There was so much potential for the plot but the main focus was clearly the love triangle between Edward, Juliet, and Montgomery. Shepherd can do horror, twists, and gore but it's all pushed to side so Juliet can frequently switch from Edward to Montgomery in her affections. And she obsesses about it throughout the whole novel.  I found it quite tedious and more desperate for some action and interesting plot development rather than wondering when the next kissing scene was.

The novel overall could have been so much more but sadly it didn't reach it's full potential and I think Shepherd could have come up with a more original retelling. The book ends in a cliffhanger, ready for more stories to be told but I don't think I'll pick up the sequel.


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