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.
I went audio on this book and was so happy. I loved the darkness behind Juliette’s character and the ending was tragic, to say the least. It actually made me want to go out and read the inspiration to this novel by H.G. Wells.
I really liked your review too 🙂
So glad you loved the audio, I agree the ending moved me.
This has been sitting on my shelf for about a year, maybe I’ll add it to my TBR readathon for March 🙂
It is a unique read..I am anxious to dive into my tbr pile come March 1st 🙂
Sharon - Obsession with Books
I have been really curious about this book Kimba & your review makes me want to grab a copy now. I’ve always been intrigued by The Island of Dr Moreau so knowing this book was inspired from this story has me even more eager to read it.
A great review! 🙂
Thanks Sharon this is such a unique trilogy and while not perfect I have enjoyed it immensely
I did not realize it was a Gothic tale. Now I am curious… Have not read it in a long time.
It is, thanks Lily 🙂
The daughter of the infamous Dr.Moreau. Very cool idea for a book!
I had heard a bit when it first came out and I was ho hum about reading it. At the time a few good dystops came out so there went the Madmans Daughter.
I am glad to see you reviewing (positively) an older book. I need to get the older ones off my shelf/off the ereader.
thanks Fran, this was unique and I love her writing style
I’ve read a lot of conflicting things about this book. Your review is so gorgeous — I’m going to have to give this one a chance.
while not perfect it certainly was different and I had no difficulty reading it.
Wow Kimberly…. I even got eerie feelings while reading your review! It sounds creepy, but fascinating! Great review!
Naomi @ Nomi’s Paranormal Palace
thanks Naomi, this was different and that is always a good thing.
I am so on the fence about this book! It sounds intriguing and yet it also sounds a bit too scary for me. I am just not sure what to do about it…
It is dark and creepy, maybe a library read?
Maja (The Nocturnal Library)
This is yet another retelling (or reimagining) I didn’t enjoy at all. I have the worst luck with them. The settong was done beautifully, I thouhgt, but the love triangle drove me crazy, as did the ending.
I’m glad you had more luck with it, though. Lovely review. 🙂
I may have to check this one out, though I’m sad to see in the comments that book two doesn’t hold up compared to book one 🙁 The romance element has me worried, though. I hate it when a romance gets shoehorned into an otherwise great book. I wish more authors didn’t feel compelled to make every book have a romance element.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this!
The romance while annoying actually makes sense through book two. My review of that posts Thursday and while parts made me crazy..it was still a worthy read and I fully intend to read the final book.
This is my book club’s pick for next month so I have it here from the library and can’t wait to get it started!!
Oh this will make a most excellent book club read..so much to talk about!
the premise and your review certainly has me curious. I’m finding myself drawn to more “creepy” and “disturbing” reads lately. I don’t know the original story, but more modern takes on classics can be interesting.
I love creepy and disturbing too, although I like to mix them in to my reads. 🙂
I do love creepy and disturbing. =)
hehe..me too Diana!
Oooh, this story sounds fascinating. I’m curious about Mr. Moreau’s experiments, and I enjoy dark, and eerie stories. I’m intrigued by the residents on the island, and why the fear and obey him. Great Review Kim!
thanks Lindy 🙂
I think I am going to pass on this series. I know everyone was really excited about this book last year and then it got mixed reviews. The romance and the love triangle put me off, yesterday I read an unflattering review of book two so I am thinking I am not going there.
Book two had issues but the overall tale ties together well. I love dark, Gothic tales so aspects of this really appealed to my darker side..I think this is one you need to try as reviews fall on both sides of the fence. A library read for sure.
A Voracious Reader
You had me at ‘madman’, ‘Moreau’ and ‘island.’ Must add this one! You’re killing me, Kimba! Or, more accurately, my TBR. 😀
Melissa (Books and Things)
You basically captured here why I’m curious about this one. The characters really sound interesting. You may have knocked me of the fence. I almost got this when it was on sale. I still may borrow it from the library…
thanks Melissa 🙂
I have not had a strong urge to read this one at all. I’m not exactly sure why because I’ve read good reviews and my friend Sara RAVED about it and I almost always read what she tells me to. But this is one I guess I just don’t think I would like. I’m glad you enjoyed it though!
This may be too dark for you Candace.
Yay, I’m so glad you got the opportunity to read THE MADMAN’S DAUGHTER and liked it overall. I loved it for all the same reason you did. The Gothic tone and setting and horror elements were right up my alley. I think the romance aspect and love triangle drives everyone nuts, and I was probably more forgiving than most in both books. This is the one aspect the seemed to weaken Juliet’s character to me. But, by the end of book two, I realized why the love-triangle is important aspect of Juliet’s life. I hope you continue to read the series becasue after the ending of HER DARK CURIOSITY, I think the last books is going to be a fantastic conclusion to the series. Wonderful review, Kimba! 🙂
My review of book two posts Thursday and while I had issues with it, overall it worked and I agree it made sense.
I’m so glad to see you enjoyed this–it gets such wildly varied reactions that I can just never be sure. I love gothics and horror too, so it was a cinch that this one would work for me. The only thing I didn’t like, honestly, was how the heavy-handed romances kept getting in the way of the plot. It’s weird to me how that part seemed so fumbly when the rest of the writing was so great.
I’m looking forward to the sequel, too. 🙂 Great review!
I could have skipped the romance as well, thanks Wendy!
I am glad to hear that you enjoyed this book. I have been reading some mixed reviews.
This isn’t a book you can plow through, and it can be dark but the writing is lovely.
Glad you enjoyed this—I agree it is very atmospheric and eerie, and I loved Juliet as a heroine. Can’t wait to hear your thoughts on Her Dark Curiosity!
thanks Lauren, I liked her too and loved the vibe of this.
I’ve heard a lot of good things about TMD. I’m glad you enjoyed it, despite the little issues.
Wow, this sounds so good. I love how its tied in with the original, but yet new. It sounds deliciously creepy, I must check it out! Thanks!
creepy, bizarre and unsettling :)thanks Liz!
Very cool review Kimba, and I love how the classics have inspired her novels.
Thanks for putting this in front of me 🙂
thanks Debbie I love her writing style
I love all of the above. I’ll be checking this one out.
Anna from Shout with Emaginette
thanks Anna, enjoy!
soooo not a book for me! horror! Glad you enjoyed it though.
:snort: You know me Aurian I love everything 🙂 and mix things up!
I’ve had my eye on this for a while, I was always intrigued by the Dr. Moreau story, and it sounds kinda creepy. Now that the sequel is out maybe I’ll take the plunge… it certainly sounds interesting and dark.
read my review of book two on Thursday and while I still recommend them, I might suggest the library.
I actually didn;t love this one. I thought the writing was very atmospheric but Juliet frustrated me too much
I thought she was strong, but in book two she annoyed the heck out of me 🙂
Having just read Under the Wide and Starry Sky, a fictional story about Robert Louis Stevenson & his wife, I’m quite intrigued to hear the 2nd book is based on one of his classics. And I must say I am very curious about how different books in the same series could be based on different novels — I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a series like that before!
The third book is based on another novel as well, and despite some issues I had with book two the adaption makes perfect sense.
Interesting…I was wondering the same thing about the different adaptions in the same series. I’m definitely intrigued now.
Victoria (aka Zemfirka)
As I said before I’m such a scaredy-cat, so this one is not for me – too much on the horror side for my taste but great review. You always have such a great way describing and making these books appealing! 😀 Great job Kim!
*blushes* well thank you Victoria. This isn’t for everyone and the rest of my week will not appeal to you..well Saturday’s post will but next week I have some that should pique your interest 🙂
Victoria (aka Zemfirka)
I’ll be eagerly waiting! 🙂
Yay! Glad you enjoyed this one overall Kim! I thought it was a fascinating (if at times horrifying) read, and I liked how you described reading the story with a sense of foreboding. That’s exactly how I felt. I’ve read some very mixed reviews about the sequel so I’m nervous about that one and might wait a bit, though I’ll be very interested to see what you think!
My review posts Thursday for MDC and while I enjoyed it it was ok.
Unsettling occurrences? You have me intrigued now for sure Kim!
Great review. 😀
hehehe..it was a unique read Ali 🙂
I liked this one, but I might have to skim it before I can read the next one. 🙂 Anything gothic and creepy and I am all in. Glad you enjoyed it. Can’t wait to start Her Dark Curiosity.
Not really, they are more like companion books 🙂
Super-eerie, very Gothic…intriguing, though I didn’t love it (3 stars, for me). It was definitely an unsettling tale. So the second book is more of a companion? That makes sense, as this first one seemed relatively complete at the end.
It sounds like we had a similar reaction to it. Yes, book two is more like a companion..link of like the Cinder series. I will share my thoughts on Thursday.
Juliet does sound like a fitting heroine for this story and one I could cheer for easily
Felicia the Geeky Blogger
A friend of mine got this book and I told her that I was going to borrow it after she was done 🙂 I am ok with not perfect. I am strangely attracted to anything Dr. M’ish! 🙂
I am really glad I read it, and yes while it isn’t perfect it was dark, Gothic, disturbing and even a little magical.
I’m glad to hear you enjoyed this, Kim. I ended up loving this one but I recently read the second one and was so disappointed. It just wasn’t as good. I thought Juliet was strong in TMD but in HDC she was a complete mess, especially because of that love triangle. I’d be curious to see what you think of it.
I will be sharing my thoughts on HDC on Thursday but have to agree Juliet was a hot mess.
I do admit that I am very curious
It is a curious read!
I’ve read a few reviews when it first came out but nothing really grabbed my attention. Yet, you describe it like I finally would love to read it. For historical settings I need to be in the mood, but this sounds like something special:)
This was different Danny and it both intrigued and disturbed me..LOL