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The Madman's Daughter (Madman's…

The Madman's Daughter (Madman's Daughter - Trilogy) (edition 2013)

by Megan Shepherd

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Title:The Madman's Daughter (Madman's Daughter - Trilogy)
Authors:Megan Shepherd
Info:Balzer Bray (2013), Hardcover, 432 pages
Collections:Already Read, Your library, eBook
Tags:young adult, science fiction, historical fiction, horror, thriller

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The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd


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can't wait for book 2! very suspenseful ( )
  MonicaEH | May 23, 2017 |
"It wasn't just my curiosity, or my fascination with anatomy, or how I could unhesitatingly chop a rabbit's head off with an ax when a roomful of boys couldn't. Those things were all symptoms of the same sickness--a kind of madness inherited from my father. It was a dangerous pull in my gut drawing me toward the dark possibilities of science, toward the thin line between life and death, toward the animal impulses hidden behind a corset and a smile."

Megan Shepherd and I seem to be something of kindred spirits. Lovers of Gothic literature, Peace Corps volunteers, frequenters of used bookstores. And while I had a number of issues with The Madman's Daughter, I still thoroughly enjoyed it. And by "enjoyed" I mean that it made me uncomfortable and experience dread in that haunting way only literature can. Shepherd's debut novel is an adaptation of H.G. Wells' The Island of Dr. Moreau, a book that I regrettably have not read because I find Wells to be an insufferable bore. However, the premise is solid and makes for a tantalizing Gothic monster mystery.

Juliet, once the high society daughter of an esteemed surgeon and his wife, is now an orphan living in poverty following her father's fall from grace and her mother's death from consumption. Despite this, as a young woman Juliet now questions the scandal and horrific rumors surrounding experiments performed by her brilliant father. A chance encounter with Montgomery, once her family's servant and her childhood friend, reveals that her father is alive and well and continuing his work on a remote island with the young man serving as his assistant. Desperate and out of options, Juliet makes the life-altering decision to accompany him. But nothing could prepare her for the horrors she'll encounter on her father's island or the secrets he's been keeping from Juliet her entire life.

It took me awhile to get invested in this novel, despite my interest in Juliet and her story. The love triangle/romance angle was very distracting for me, as Juliet's ping-ponging interest was particularly exasperating. But regardless of flaws, the island with its chilling inhabitants and the pull of the intricate story of madness was enough to get me through. ( )
  GennaC | May 9, 2017 |
The Madman's Daughter
by Megan Shepherd
#1 The Madman's Daughter Trilogy
Audio narrated by Lucy Raynor

setting: 1895, London & an unnamed tropical island somewhere off the coast of Australia

My, oh my, oh my. (Picture me rubbing my hands together in glee.) I just happened across this novel while searching for the word "boatswain" to fulfill a requirement in a reading challenge. I was pondering Peter Pan (Smee was Hook's boatswain/bosun/bos'n) or Mutiny on the Bounty when I became intrigued by this one instead. I'm so glad I found it. I just started reading it with nothing more than the book blurb hinting what was inside. As I got into it, I kept thinking that the premise seemed familiar. Doh. That's because it is a retelling of the classic gothic-horror-fantasy-science fiction book written by H.G. Wells in 1896, The Island of Dr. Moreau. This story is told from his daughter, Juliet's, point of view.

As the novel begins, 16-year-old Juliet Moreau has fallen from an upperclass lifestyle after a whispered about scandal involving her father, Dr. Henri Moreau, a notable physician and research scientist, took him away from her. She had always presumed he was dead, because his sudden disappearance had left her and her mother destitute. Her mother had to resort to quiet "arrangements" with high class gentlemen in order to make ends meet. After her death from consumption, Juliet found employment as a maid at King's College of Medical Research cleaning the laboratory at the end of each day.

She was not bothered by the specimens in jars or the blood or other organic debris, as she was raised in the home of her father and was born with a natural curiosity and affinity toward medical science. Because she was a girl, of course, she was not allowed to study medicine, but she became adept at eavesdropping on her father and watching him through cracks in the door. Her childhood friend, Montgomery, who worked as Dr. Moreau's assistant, would sneak medical books to Juliet, so she became quite knowledgeable on her own.

Juliet unintentionally finds herself caught up in a couple minor scandals herself, one caused by a lecherous older man who works at King's College. She injures him after his attempt to molest her. Of course, the fallout would affect her more than the old coot, so she knew she would no longer have a job. Around the same time, she runs into her old friend, Montgomery, who had disappeared the same time as her father. She learns from him that Dr. Moreau is still alive and is doing research on a tropical island. She is devastated that he just abandoned her and never sent word (or money), yet she is thrilled to know he is alive and well. She is now determined to find him and decides to go back with Montgomery when his ship returns to the island.

Along the way, they rescue a young man adrift in a small dinghy and bring him to the island as well, planning to send him on his way with the next trading ship (which could take a year or more). When they reach the island, Juliet is taken aback by her father's lukewarm welcome, and to his acerbic and violent reaction upon seeing the rescued man, Edward Prince.

Her father's dark side continues to show itself as Juliet and Edward learn more about his research and what he is creating on the island. Juliet feels drawn to Edward, who is obviously smitten with her and feels protective toward her, but she cannot let go of her longtime feelings for her old friend, Montgomery, whom she feels safe with and always looked up to and adored. All throughout, she is confused by her newfound feelings and goes back and forth dreaming about both men. Torn between two lovers, feeling like a fool...

We learn more about Dr. Moreau's unusual experiments, using the torturous and cruel method of vivisection (and without using anesthetic), as he fuses together parts from different living beings, intermingling species. He has many of his creatures there on the island, some in more advanced forms than others. Many are deformed, some are very intelligent with human-like qualities, others cannot speak or have mutated into dangerous horrific beings. He's learned to interfere with brain function, removing or tweaking certain areas in order to eradicate less desirable features or to improve functions to a higher level. Dr. Moreau is playing at being a god.

There is a lot to debate regarding the ethics of how new information is discovered and used to achieve advancements in certain scientific areas when the power to do so is put in the wrong hands. The original book by H.G. Wells caused a lot of controversy and scandal when it was released, the blurring of lines between humans and animals, the hints of bestiality, cannibalism, etc. Wells himself said his book was "an exercise in youthful blasphemy".

Juliet often battles her own morbid curiosity about her father's research even though she knows what he's doing is wrong and that he, himself, is a madman in the truest sense of the word.

"Edward was strangely quiet, shocked by the horror of it, as I should have been. But as much as I knew I should be repulsed, my curiosity burned so brightly it made my humanity flicker and dim."

Some of Dr. Moreau's creatures start to turn, suddenly becoming violent as they discover the taste of blood. Juliet, Montgomery, and Edward plot together and plan to make their escape on the last remaining dinghy left on the island, hoping to run into a larger ship. Juliet is encouraged to round up anything of value which can later be sold. A loyal part dog-part bear creature, Balthazar, helps load up water, food, clothing, parasols, anything that will help them survive the journey.

As chaos reigns on the island and time begins to run out, more twists and turns to the story cause surprise and leave the reader with the feeling of, "What? No! No, no, no!" This is a thought-provoking novel, for sure, and full of dark, gloomy, gothic suspense. This does not completely align with the original Wells' novel, and leaves an opening for future books in the series.

The author continues this story with a second book which pulls from Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and follows with a third book stemming from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. ( )
  AddictedToMorphemes | May 7, 2017 |
Ugh, I feel like I trudged through the last 1/3rd of this book, wanting it to be over but having a very tiny part of my interest being held, enough that I didn't want to DNF it. The Madman's Daughter is fifty shades of frustrating. The characters, ESPECIALLY Juliet, are not very well developed and are basically just confused. Montgomery is like "oh I'm kind of a mad scientist in-training who experiments on rabbits and sheep to make little girls but I'm also innocent and stuff. Make out with me." And Juliet. Urgh. If she could calm her raging teenage hormones for five seconds maybe she could have gotten something accomplished without wasting time by slipping into a lengthy daydream about Edward and/or Montgomery being naked. Such an unnecessary love triangle there, by the way. Also her obsession with inheriting her father's cruelty and madness was annoying. Euthanizing a suffering, tortured rabbit is NOT cruelty, its mercy.
You would think that having to be a maid for several years would have changed her privileged worldview, so that she would be nicer to servants and actually see them as people. But even before she knew about Balthazar and others being her father's experiments, she treated them like subhumans, like rich Victorians treated the working class. She just stepped right back into the role of being the master's bossy daughter, unchanged by her years of hard labor. I thought this was really strange and disappointing.
Finally, the biologist in me was screaming internally at the completely impossible experiments that this book's whole plot is based around. You can not graft a half dozen different animals together like that, I don't care how many "treatments" you give them to keep them from "regressing". There's this thing called an immune system, and no matter how low the disease risk on a deserted island is supposed to be, the immune system will still reject the foreign body parts. Unless you completely destroy the animal's immune system, but then it would die, because there are still bacteria and viruses on the island. I know its supposed to be a fantasy and not real, but this was just too completely unbelievable.
Overall, 2.5/5, and I won't be reading the sequel. ( )
  brideofsevenless | Apr 18, 2017 |
I was really hoping for more when I started reading this novel. It had such a good start. It pulled me in, it was very gripping. It held a lot of promise since I love horror and dark fiction. And when I started reading this I thought it would be satisfying. But the more I read it the more I grew disappointed. I found the main character to be very annoying. There is all this horror and things going on around her and all she cares is about the two love interest. I think I liked her cold and calculating side more than who she was most of the time.
I felt like the need for romance in this book ruined the potential of what this novel could have really been like. Ill admit I've never read H.G. Wells so I cant compare it. But the idea of this plot was really good and interesting it just had a lot of elements that were pointless to the development of this story. So really all I liked from this novel was the beginning and then the very end. I don't know if Ill be picking up the next book in this series. I might, just because it ends in a huge cliffhanger and I want to know what happens. But its definitely not going to be anytime soon. ( )
  miss_booklion | Nov 6, 2016 |
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To Jesse -
I love you madly.
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The basement hallways in King's College of Medical Research were dark, even in the daytime.
At night they were like a grave.
Why did I have to learn he was alive from a bloodstained diagram at a late-night vivisection?
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Dr. Moreau's daughter, Juliet, travels to her estranged father's island, only to encounter murder, medical horrors, and a love triangle.

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