Author: Megan Shepherd
Series: The Madman's Daughter, book #1
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: January 29, 2013
Source: ARC received from publisher
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
The Madman's Daughter was just as creepy as I was expecting, if not more so. The creations, the madman behind them, the monster on the loose...all preyed up on my delicate sensibilities. I haven't seen The Island of Dr. Moreau in ages, nor have I ever read the original tale by H. G. Wells, so the disturbing things lurking and happening on the island caught me off-guard at times. But I am definitely not complaining. I knew going into this novel that I should expect hair-raising beasts and unorthodox ideas. Okay, unorthodox is putting it mildly...they were the ravings of a lunatic, a man gone crazy with power.
Speaking of, I loved seeing the degradation of the doctor's mental faculties. He never came off as a sane man, not once...not even when Juliet first arrived at the island. So I knew this was going to be a bumpy ride from the get-go. But I had no idea how quickly it would all evolve into chaos. Suspecting what the doctor was up to and finding out the truth only intensified the eerie vibe.
It was fairly easy to envision myself on the island with the characters, thanks in part to the lush imagery used to describe the flora and fauna residing there. The descriptions of the doctor's creations and their way of life only made it more menacing. But I was able to fully immerse myself in the story because of it. It's not always easy to impart just how creepy and disturbing a situation is, but I think in this instance, the author has been completely successful.
There are some books I read mostly because of the romantic angle, and there are some I read strictly for the actual storyline. The Madman's Daughter falls into that latter category. It's a good thing, too, because I really wasn't feeling the romance in this book. Don't get me wrong, there are some tender moments and there are some steamy ones, but the overall evolution of the love triangle boggled me.
The frequency with which Juliet found it necessary to mention her idolization of Montgomery when they were younger really bothered me. Sure, it plays a part in the romance now, but it also serves to make her look young and naive, considering how little it matters to the actual story. And since it does appear that the author wants Juliet to come across as a strong young woman, maybe a little bit wild even, it does her character a disservice to mention this idolization no less than three times during the course of the novel. Especially since her feelings ricochet back and forth between Montgomery and Edward like a ping-pong ball.
First, there's kind, intelligent, good-natured Montgomery, whom Juliet has known all of her life. It's clear that this boy is in love with her and that she has similar feelings for him. I'm okay with that. No insta-love. No "we're soul-mates". No pledging of the undying love. Just warm and fuzzies, even if they are from different stations and Juliet's father has strictly forbidden them from any romantic notions. Joke's on you, Dad!
And then there's the enigmatic Edward. A stranger. A castaway found lost at sea. A boy with secrets he has yet to divulge. And here he is, pledging his love to Juliet, telling her she's the reason he made the island his final destination, as well. Blech...I don't think I can ship this relationship. Except...he's got secrets. I like a mystery...a challenge, if you will. Maybe his feelings are legit? Maybe I'm making undue assumptions and rushing judgment on this guy?
I don't know...the more I saw of Juliet with each boy, the less I wanted her to pick one and the more I wanted her to simply jump in that dinghy and escape the island and its monsters on her own. But like I said, the romance -- the love triangle -- wasn't what drew me to the book, so I can honestly overlook it...for the most part. It does play some importance in my enjoyment of this novel, but not as much as it might have if it were a different book altogether.
All in all, I'm pretty thrilled with how this book turned out. Lots of mystery and intrigue. Off-the-scales creepy. Characters that are well-developed with individual motivations. Had the romance been a little less central to the plot, I think I might have enjoyed this novel even more. But I won't let it deter me from picking up the next installment, that's for sure, especially since I hear that one's a retelling of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.