by Megan Shepherd
Series: The Madman's Daughter #1
Genres: Historical, Thriller
Purchase*: Amazon *affiliate
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.
The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd is the first in the Madman’s Daughter trilogy. The jacket claims this Gothic thriller was inspired by The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells and that statement rings true. Shepherd spins a dark and beautiful tale wrapped in horror. Mini review: Disturbing with a strong heroine and unsettling occurrences that kept me enthralled. Beautifully crafted and compelling.
Sixteen year old Juliet Moreau once considered a lady now works as a maid and lives in a boarding house after a scandal destroyed the life she once knew. Her father is believed dead and shortly after her mother died of consumption leaving her at the mercy of an uncaring relative. When Juliet discovers her father is alive she travels with his handsome young assistant Montgomery to her father’s new island home. During their journey across the sea, they rescue Edward and bring him along. When Juliet arrives, she quickly learns that the horrible scandal and rumors surrounding her father were true. The tale that unfolds is dark, filled with danger and disturbing.
Juliet Moreau was the perfect heroine for this tale. The story demanded a strong character to lead and Juliet is a remarkable character who is quite complex. We see glimpses of a darker side of her, which compels us to look away. Yet, she is strong, compassionate, intelligent, and has a strong moral compass. Montgomery has been a servant to Dr. Moreau since he was a young lad and has slowly become his assistance. Edward is the gentlemen they save, and he quickly shares his concerns about the island and its residents. The two express an interest in Juliet as both look to protect and claim her. While there is a slight triangle it isn’t a strong one, and she easily decides. The romance wasn’t a powerful thread, but it did add a little distraction from the island. Dr. Moreau is a mad scientist, lost in his work, forgetting to eat and driven by his desire to succeed. He is feared by those on the island and immediately obeyed by all. All of the characters were unique, had their own distinct voice and added to the overall story.
The Madman’s Daughter while not flawless was a remarkable, eerie Gothic tale that makes the reader uncomfortable and yet compels them to read on. The island, its inhabitants and Dr. Moreau’s experiments were straight from nightmares and late night science fiction movies. I wouldn’t say any of it was entirely realistic, but Shepherd wove the characters into the tale and the madness of it all kept me on the edge, wide-eyed and fascinated. This is a historical setting, but aside from a lack of modern niceties, social standing and dress Shepherd’s description stopped there. While the characters had depth there speech was modern and had me scrambling to check the dates. Thankfully, I quickly forgot about this as the story drew me in. Shepherd did a wonderful job of creating a sense of foreboding, and increasing the danger and tension. With each page, I became more enthralled as I watched this unsettling tale unfold. It slowly built endearing me to the strange characters and pushing me towards the climatic ending. The reveals while not entirely unexpected thanks in part to subtle clues were horrific and mind-boggling. The story ends on what some would say a cliffhanger, but I felt it ended perfectly and has me eager to begin Her Dark Curiosity.
Fans of gothic horror and mystery will find The Madman’s Daughter an interesting curiosity. The second book Her Dark Curiosity is inspired by Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.