Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Book Review: The Madman's Daughter

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.  Quoted from Goodreads


Oh, this book, this book.  It was utterly, gruesomely delightful.  I haven't read The Island of Dr. Moreau, so I can't use that as much of a reference, but it did remind me a lot of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (the second book is inspired by this one), The Heart of Darkness, and Robinson Caruso, more in tone than content, though there are definitely parallels to each of those as well.

Really, everything was just very well done.  The writing was magnificent. The whole tone of the book screams Gothic thriller. It was haunting and dark, with the perfect blend of description and action.  It starts with a bang, but not the usual kind.  It's not a fight or a death or even a chase scene, but it grabs you right away, and the ending is even better.   There might be one or two slower spots in the middle, but because of the constant tension and mystery hovering over the story, I never really noticed.  It was one of those books I couldn't put down.

Plus Juliet Moreau is a fabulous main character.  She's spunky, brave, and intelligent, but never comes across as a modern person, which I absolutely abhor in historical fiction. It ruins the whole book for me. Juliet is put though a lot because of her father, but she still makes the best out of her situation and options.  She fights for what she wants, and I loved following her through the book. 

Her father is one of those characters you love to hate.  He's incredibly well done, and it's sort of heartbreaking the way Juliet clings to hope that he will be the father she remembered as a little girl and not the man who abandoned her and her mother.

Really, the only problem for me in this book was the love triangle. Yes, the love triangle strikes again.  It's not that I didn't understand Juliet's conflict. It's just that she was so utterly wishy-washy about the entire thing.  In one line she's thinking about Montgomery and one sentence later, she's on to Edward.  I get she's drawn to each of them for different reasons, but she went back and forth a bit too much for my liking.  Plus, with all the craziness going on around them, I would think love would take a bit more of a back burner.  Still, I'm glad the author included both of the love interests.  They each played a vital role, and I'm excited to see what happens in the second book.

All in all, this is definitely a book you need to check out. It's a strong 4 stars for me.  The atmosphere was haunting, the characters excellent, and the writing well done.  If you're looking for a fun Gothic thriller, you absolutely have to read this.

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