THE MADMAN'S DAUGHTER
The Madman's Daughter #1
Historical/Paranormal Young Adult
Balzer + Bray
Received from publisher for review
THE STORY (from Goodreads)
In the darkest places, even love is deadly.
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.
Darkly thrilling, The Madman’s Daughter combines the things we know about the original telling of The Island of Dr. Moreau with the promise of new twists and slight deviations to keep us utterly riveted the entire way through. While we know more than Juliet does from the first page–her innocent hope that the rumors and accusations which drove her father to abandon her and her mother are unfounded temporarily blinding her–we still find ourselves nervously tapping our fingers and toes once she sets foot on the island, the truth of knowing her father is every bit the monster everyone thought him to be only serving to amplify our sense of unease. We find ourselves horrified, not only by the threat some of the island’s inhabitants present but more so from the man responsible for them, someone who proves himself to be more unnatural than any of those who so unluckily fall under his scalpel.
Juliet intrigues us from the very start, proving herself to be intelligent and more than capable of defending herself and those weaker than her, unafraid to resort to violence despite how it conflicts with her polite society upbringing. Once she reaches the island however, a few small issues arise, namely her perpetual habit of painting everyone there with her father’s brush. Her anger and disgust with him color her perception of all those who have done nothing but fall victim to Dr. Moreau's gruesome touch, causing her to group all of them under a single label with little regard for their status as innocents. We absolutely agree with her feelings toward her father as there is very little white threaded through all of his black, but Montgomery and the islanders all exist in varying shades of gray, as Juliet herself does, something she conveniently forgets when the painful reality of her father’s cruelty becomes indisputable and rips her hope for love and family away.
Those who read the synopsis prior to picking this first installment up will not be surprised by the presence of a love triangle, with Juliet earning the romantic interest of both childhood friend Montgomery and castaway Edward. Luckily though the triangle is not of the overly dramatic variety, Juliet’s preference clear early on (though it does waver ever-so-slightly at times), and she is not one to play games or pit her suitors against one another. The romance is also a very secondary element to the mystery of her father’s experiments and the murders taking place on the island, so while Montgomery and Edward are both very present throughout, their interest in Juliet is never the primary focus. We’re instead beautifully distracted by a truly grotesque villain and all the pain his inflated ego and delicate blade have caused.
Overall, The Madman’s Daughter is a book that will keep many a reader up late, the call of sleep no match for the haunting tale of Juliet and her island of monsters–both those in truth and those who have simply been mislabeled. Though this is the first book of a trilogy, it has an episodic quality to it wherein many of the questions we have and much of the action specific to this leg of Juliet’s journey is wrapped up, leaving us with plenty of room to move forward without causing us to break out in a cold sweat as we contemplate the number of days between now and the release date of book two.