December 2, 2013

The Madman's Daughter (The Madman's Daughter #1) by Megan Shepherd

Title: The Madman's Daughter (The Madman's Daughter #1)
Author: Megan Shepherd
Publish Date: January 29, 2013
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Horror, Mystery, Fantasy
Rating: 4/5 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. 
Inspired by H. G. Wells's classic The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Madman's Daughter is a dark and breathless Gothic thriller about the secrets we'll do anything to know and the truths we'll go to any lengths to protect.

I wasn't sure what to expect when I opened this book, as it is new and I've heard mixed reviews. I knew three things: the novel was fairly new, it was a debut, and it had a really pretty cover.

That's about it.

A few bad points aside, I enjoyed this novel very much. One thing I liked especially was the opening. While it was more of an introduction to the book than a real action in the plot, it grabbed me in right away and foreshadowed what was to come.

The plot was a bit too slow for my liking. Following the initial scene, nothing happened for the first fifty or so pages of the book. When we finally do get to some action, it slows down again. But halfway through the novel we get a taste of how good Megan Shepherd's writing really is. Suddenly, the story line becomes fast-paced, compelling, and strong. I felt myself unable to put the book down!

This, tied in with the characters, was a great mix. I love Juliette, because she's a strong female character without being overpowering. She doesn't try and take charge in every single situation even when she doesn't have ideas, but she stands strong and leads when she feels she can help. There are many sides to her, which made her feel real.

Though I loved Montgomery and Edward, there was one aspect of each of their characters that bothered me. Megan Shepherd used a cliche that is extremely common among YA novels, especially debuts: the love triangle with the gentle, caring boy on one side and the wild, bad-boy on the other. Though I'd have to admit the love triangle itself does add to the story (a big accomplishment considering how tired I am of the cliche), the author could have added a twist so that it wasn't as typical.

The mystery and horror aspects of the novel were just what I was looking for. I enjoy a small amount of creepiness if it's done in the right way (see books like The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer and Beautiful Creatures), and there's no question that this was done in the right way. It kept me on the edge of my seat without scaring me so much I had to put the book down.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading The Madman's Daughter, and I can't wait for the sequel to come out on January 28, 2013.

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