Thursday, 11 April 2013

The Madman's Daughter By Megan Shepherd

 The Madman's Daughter
Series: The Madman's Daughter #1
Release Date: 11th April 2013
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Format: Paperback
Pages: 368
Source: ARC provided by Harper Voyager.

Synopsis: 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.

Review: Ah, this was one of my most anticipated novels of 2013 and my expectations were truly blown out of the water. This novel is not only written in such a professional and talented way but it also scared the life out of me. Upon reading the first few chapters I was shocked at the harsh description of a vivisection but that was only the beginning. The whole novel revolves around one man’s madness as he tries to play god. There are many disturbing scenes in the novel but they were written so well and weren’t overdone or dumbed down. Megan Shepherd really found the correct writing style and description that allowed the reader to be disturbed but also curious to read on. It takes a certain level of talent in which this can be done correctly but most importantly well and I honestly don’t normally expect that in debut novels but The Madman’s Daughter is simply incredible and blown all regular expectations. 

Juliet is daughter of the famous surgeon Dr Moreau, who Juliet believes is dead after their family fell into scandal because of him. He was accused of attempting harsh and inhumane operations on animals that were against the law. His whole family were ruined and he left them. Juliet’s mother passed away and she’s left to fend for herself in 1894 London. She works as a cleaner at the Royal College. One night when tailing along with her friend Lucy and some medical students, she discovers some form of vivisection is taking place where she works. The diagram they are using belongs to her dead father. Appalled Juliet does the only thing to put the animal out of its suffering. She then goes in search of the man who gave the students the diagram so she can get the truth out of him. It’s upon meeting this person that things shatter around her and she learns that not only is her father alive but he’s also still performing some experiments on a deserted island. She demands to be taken to him but she’s not prepared for what awaits. 

Juliet is a clever woman who has the talent of her father but being women she is denied the right to learn and practice science. Left in ruin she has to learn things by overhearing lessons taught to medical students while she cleans. She’s a lonely girl and has only one friend, who was incredibly annoying. Juliet is a strong character who doesn’t usually let people get in her way; she will do anything to protect herself, even if this means doing the most unladylike of things. She was also cautious though when it came to knowledge as she was aware her father’s blood and madness ran in her veins and she didn’t want to become like him. Her father had already fallen over the line into insanity and she doesn’t know how easy it will be for her to follow. Juliet has to come to terms with a lot throughout the novel, such as harsh truths and realities while also learning some nightmarish things about herself and her father. It’s hard to see how she didn’t break down while learning it all but she managed to keep calm. 

We also have two love interests. Montgomery, her father’s servant and her old play mate. He has now grown into an impressive man who has knowledge of science that rivals her fathers. He has always been affectionate towards Juliet but we see his feelings have developed incredibly during their parting. I personally didn’t like Montgomery, after all he had done, some of which were similar to her father, and Juliet still forgave him. I wouldn’t be able to let that pass so easily. I just felt their relationship was inevitable and there was no growth to it, it was rather instant for my liking. Then we have Edward Prince, the stranger they found half dead in the sea. He is an upper-class gentleman, one who her father wishes her to marry when they meet. He has many secrets of his own and we see him fight them and try to relax around these strangers on a deserted island. Edward of course likes Juliet and she is drawn to him too, and I think they were much better suited. Something’s I can mention others I can’t as I don’t want to spoil the novel. Both knew how to survive and had fathers who disapproved of them. Oh and that ending, I really liked how no matter what he would protect her. 

Now onto Dr Moreau, he is the perfect evil villain. I don’t think there have been many others who scared me as much as he did. He was a very cold harsh character who had no morals. He knew from the start what he was doing was wrong but he never stopped, didn’t care about the pain and suffering he put animals through; he only wanted the final result. The scenes in which he is doing his experiments truly disturbed me. It doesn’t help that I’m an animal management student who understands some of the toughest welfare issues but this was something horrifying in my eyes. I was so shocked at the vivid descriptions of the vivisection's and then the suspense of the thing that was killing all the islanders. This book scared me deeply, I didn’t want to walk down my dark hallway while reading this book, and I got the chills and flinched while reading those dark scenes. It was so vividly real and it’s horrifying to know that this used to happen and in some places still happens. I can’t get over the sick and horrified feeling that comes over me when thinking about it. Megan you really have written a powerful horror novel. 

The Madman’s Daughter isn’t a novel I would recommend to the light hearted, it is full of some harsh and horrifying things, but that’s what makes the novel for me. It has everything the perfect horror novel needs and here it is in all its slightly unsettling glory. The writing itself was so clever and flowed so well. It had the quality of a talented writer and exceeded all expectations of mine. It flowed so well and was so fluently connected from start until finish. Megan Shepherd is a very gifted writer, who has mastered the horror genre with her debut. The future looks very promising for this author and I cannot wait to read what happens next to Juliet and co, but I do think I need time to recover from the horror this novel beholds. The Madman’s Daughter was one of my anticipated reads and now I can say it is one of the best and completely blows all expectations the reader will have prior to reading. 

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