{Review/Giveaway} THE MADMAN'S DAUGHTER by Megan Shepherd

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B O O K   T R A I L E R:

O P E N I N G   L I N E:

   THE BASEMENT HALLWAYS IN King's College of 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. When I cleaned those rooms, late at night after the medical students had gone home to their warm beds, the sound of my hard-bristle brush echoed in the operating theater, down the twisting halls, into the storage spaces where they kept the things of nightmares. Other people's nightmares, that is. Dead flesh and sharpened scalpels didn't bother me. I was my father's daughter, after all. My nightmares were made of darker things.

This review was first posted at A Backwards Story on January 20, 2014.

I have a confession: I've never read H.G. Wells' classic novel THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU. I didn't need to in order to read Megan Shepherd's debut novel, and neither do you. Granted, that didn't stop me from badgering co-workers that I know read a lot of classics or sci-fi/fantasy and seeing if anyone had read the original novel. In the end, I went on Wikipedia for a synopsis. Did I need to? No. I was just curious...as curious, dare I say, as the novel's main protagonist, Juliet Moreau!

Juliet is beyond curious, to the point where the brand-sequel is entitled HER DARK CURIOSITY. And the word is in the above book trailer. Curious, curious, curious. But haven't you heard? Curiosity killed the cat. Curiosity can be deadly. Juliet's curiosity gets her far over her head as she falls deeper and deeper into the dangerous world that surrounds her. Before the book begins, Juliet's family has fallen apart. Her father has been accused of performing vivisection (operating and experimenting on live animals. ...And, I will admit it: I looked up the definition of this word myself! One time I was really glad to be reading on my nook, since e-readers have built-in dictionary features!) and was forced to flee London. Her mother has now passed, and she scrapes by a living cleaning King's College of Medical Research at night. She's fallen far, and her life is about to become worse as she falls prey to one of the college's professors afterhours. Forced to flee London herself, Juliet finds herself reunited with Montgomery, her father's former assistant. Only, he's not so former; Juliet's father, the infamous Dr. Moreau, is still alive and well...and still knee-deep in disturbing experiments on his own private island, an island where there is no escape...

THE MADMAN'S DAUGHTER is a macabre story, full of dark and dangerous occurrences. This is apparent from the very beginning. Juliet starts off innocent, but battles with herself as she grows more tarnished throughout her journey. Is she just as crazy as her father? She's curious about his work...even though it also reviles her. Personally, I feel that her curiosity is such that any doctor must feel going on his or her initial path in life. She would make a great surgeon, but women aren't allowed to hold such titles in her time. Instead, she's caught up in her father's web of grisly inventions, and she thinks her thoughts are wrong. Or maybe she is mad. Time will tell, and there are still two books to go in this series. I love that each of the three is based around a classic piece of gothic literature, beginning with THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU by H.G. Wells, followed by THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE by Robert Louis Stevenson, and concluding with FRANKENSTEIN by Mary Shelley. All three make sense together in the context of Juliet's world and how Shepherd has woven everything together. After reading the summary for HER DARK CURIOSITY, its basis made perfect sense. Between elements from THE MADMAN'S DAUGHTER and the synopsis for HER DARK CURIOSITY, FRANKENSTEIN seemed like a perfect fit for the final book, if it goes in the direction I think it might. I read THE MADMAN'S DAUGHTER together with fellow book blogger Stephanie from Chasm of Books, and we both saw this correlation!

While THE MADMAN'S DAUGHTER is focused on rocking the horror aspect and immersing readers in environment, there's also a love triangle at play. I know, I know...don't groan yet. While the love triangle does get bogged down at times, it's always tilted...or at least, I  thinks so. While we were reading, Stephanie found herself torn between Dr. Moreau's assistant Montgomery and shipwreck survivor Edward, and still does. I personally feel that Edward is creepy, that he knows more than he lets on, that all is not right. I liked that Juliet had history with Montgomery dating back to childhood, that it isn't a case of insta-love. Plus, you may recall that THE MADMAN'S DAUGHTER won a Best of 2013 Award from me...for best kiss. And THE MADMAN'S DAUGHTER has this awesome kissing scene that takes place on a lab table among all this crazy equipment, of all things! But it's hot. Or, as Kat says, nerd-raunchy. Definitely a memorable scene. I really, really hopes the love triangle stays tilted toward Montgomery, because Edward, just...no.

There are so many twists and turns in THE MADMAN'S DAUGHTER. Shepherd knows how to keep readers on their feet. I'm really good at figuring out mysteries and surprises and twists before they're revealed in a book. I see a lot of possibilities as I read. THE MADMAN'S DAUGHTER is much more unexpected and harder to predict. I came up with so many theories and possibilities. Some were right, some were close, some were all the way out in Siberia. I couldn't pin this one down. While I did guess certain things right before they were revealed, others were impossible to see coming, even for me. When a book can throw me off-guard and keep me that invested, it's done its job well! I thoroughly enjoyed Shepherd's debut novel and am eager to read HER DARK CURIOSITY and share my thoughts with you soon!
C O V E R   D E S I G N:

Atmospheric and creepy. At first, you think, "Okay, girl in a pretty dress. Been there, seen that. So what?" But...then you look closer. Her dress is off-kilter. She's bare-footed. The setting is murky. all is not quite right here.

Then, the title! It's a bright blood-red, and the title is just captivating. THE MADMAN'S DAUGHTER. Is this girl mad, too? Is something sinister going on? Tell me more! So this cover, to me, invokes curiosity...which is exactly what it was designed to do!
O F F I C I A L   I N F O:

Author: Megan Shepherd
Release Date: Jan. 29, 2013
Publisher: Balzer + Bray / HarperCollins
Received: Purchased

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.

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