When she was ten years old, her father’s scandal ruined her life. Now that she’s sixteen, Juliet Moreau is working as a maid in the hospital he used to operate in. Life is hard on the streets of London and she scrapes by just so, but it’s just one step away from prostitution. When she finds out that her father may still be alive, she follows him to a tropical island near Australia and is shocked by what she finds. Nobody is what they seem to be, not even Juliet herself…
So this was Ren’s second pick for me in the Pick-For-Me Challenge and I am very very glad to report that Ren’s taste is not as terrible as I previously assumed.
The Madman’s Daughter is based on H.G. Wells’ The Island of Dr. Moreau, and like the original work it is set in Victorian London (until Juliet travels to the Pacific island her father now lives on.) Now I can’t really say whether or not it is a good adaptation, because I haven’t read Wells’ work, but on its own, it was a very fascinating read. The Madman’s Daughter is deliciously creepy and I spent a great deal of the first half being freaked out by it.
The writing was very riveting and if I weren’t a victim of “oh noes this bed is so comfy I will just sleep instead” I would’ve finished the book much quicker than I actually did. Megan Shepherd had me hooked from start to finish and there were no moments I can think of where I was anything but curious about how it would go on. She drew out the mystery and subsequent events until the very last page and as I said, it was all so very creepy and unsettling, I positively revelled in it.
As for the characters – well done. I didn’t know whom I could really trust, everyone was sort of shady, even Juliet herself. Henri Moreau, her father, was truly a madman and I was actually scared for Juliet. Then there were Montgomery, who seemed like an okay fellow, but turned out to be much more than he let on, and Edward, who abandoned his previous plans so he could watch over Juliet, despite stepping into the lion’s den. The islanders were intriguing as well and especially Alice and Balthazar grew on me.
The only thing that irked me (and the reason why I’m only giving four teacups) was the science behind it all. Obviously a certain amount of disbelief is needed, but Moreau’s experiments combined animal parts and then ended up looking deceivingly human. I found that to be very implausible without the aid of magic. Especially later when there’s the monster going around and it turns out that it literally transforms, much like a werewolf would, that was just too much for me. It wasn’t even scientifically explained, it was just accepted at face value and I didn’t really buy that.
Still though, four creepy teacups from me and a recommendation to anyone who likes historical fiction with a creepy plot and unsettling characters.