Book Review: The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd


Title:  The Madman's Daughter
Series: (The Madman's Daughter #1)
By: Megan Shepherd
Author Info: Website | Twitter | Goodreads
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre Type: Gothic, Romance, Horror
Publication Date: January 29th 2013
Pages: 420 pages
Source: Bought
Publisher: Balzer+Bray
My Rating: 5 Stars

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 is based on the H. G. Wells's classic The Island of Dr. Moreau and is told by Juliet, Dr. Moreau's daughter. The book has a wonderfully dark atmosphere and has both elements of horror and romance. And yes, it does contain descriptions of gruesome experiments, but in a good, "Oh, that's gross" kind of way. You may even shudder and feel a bit squeamish at times, but this is typical of this genre story and is part of the book experience.  You are supposed to feel a bit disturbed, that's why it's called a Gothic story.

I really enjoyed reading The Madman's Daughter. The book kept me intrigued throughout and overall had good pacing.  I especially loved the protagonists Juliet and how determined she was to find out the truth behind her father's secret experiments, even while questioning her own fascination and horror with them. But what I really felt was most outstanding in the book was the detailed descriptions that gave the book such a wonderfully dark and mysterious feel to it.

The setting for the story begins in Victorian, London and takes place mostly in the dark basement hallways of King's College for Medical Research.  This is where we meet Juliet and start to get a feel for her character and the books dark, Gothic feel.

Description of Kings College:

“The Basement Hallways in King's College for Medical Research were dark, even in the daytime. At night, they were like a grave. Rats crawled through corridors that dripped with cold perspiration. The chill in the sunken rooms kept the specimens from rotting and numbed my own flesh, too, through the worn layers of my dress.”

From Juliet:

“Dead flesh and sharpened scalpels didn't bother me. I was my father's daughter, after all. My nightmares were made of darker things.”

At the beginning of the story, Juliet is an orphan, employed by Kings College as a maid.  She tries to make a living all the while fighting off threatening advances from various professors.  After witnessing an experiment one night by students from Kings College and seeing pages from her father's scientific book describing vivisection she realizes he may still be alive. She soon finds out not only is he still alive but living on a remote tropical island. Juliet is determined to find out if the rumors of her father's gruesome experiments are true and decides to journey to the mysterious island herself. She is accompanied by Montgomery, her father's assistant, and later Edward, a mysterious castaway, both whom she begins to have romantic feelings for.  The journey itself is awful, and we, along with the passengers, cannot wait to get off the boat and arrive at the island.

The Journey by Boat:

“After a month in a dark, cramped cabin, I started going above deck once a day for fresh air and sunlight, but the smell of turpentine and piss usually drove me back even before the sailors started leering.”

Once on the island itself, we meet Juliet’s father, Dr. Moreau and are horrified to learn that the strange islanders are really animals from his experiments who appear and act human. Secretly intrigued by her father's work, she witnesses first hand one of these experiments and see's just how cruel and mad her father really is. Soon the islanders revolt against Dr. Moreau and the island is thrown into chaos. Juliet must flee the island afraid for her life, but not before several shocking mysteries are revealed, including a shocking one about Juliet herself.