Juliet Moreau lives by herself in London as a maid, and works hard to stay off the streets, after the scandal that tore apart her family. One night she receives word that her father may be alive, as she stumbles upon his assistant and her childhood friend, Montgomery.
After a series of unfortunate events, Juliet forces herself onto the ship with Montgomery and his assistant, as he journeys across the Pacific to where her father now lives and works on a remote island. On the way, they pick up a castaway, Edward Prince, who has a few secrets of his own.
But when Juliet finally lands on the island and reunites with her father, she realises that nothing is as it seems. Dr. Moreau hasn’t stopped the horrific experiments that made him an outcast in society, and has turned his attention on even more horrific surgeries. When one of his experiments starts killing all the villagers, Juliet wonders whether she can escape the island before losing her life- and her heart.
For anyone who reads this blog, you’ll immediately know how excited I was about this book. While it didn’t completely live up to my (high) expectations, it was still good.
Horrific and gothic, The Madman’s Daughter was a perfect read for the especially rainy, stormy weather we were having in Toronto this past week. Based on the story by H.G Wells The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Madman’s Daughter was a great atmospheric read. The setting was haunting, especially the island, and I could picture the jungle perfectly in my mind, especially since it felt like someone was always watching Juliet, whenever she was alone. I had goosebumps almost the entire time!
The characters themselves also added flavour to the story. Everyone had secrets, and no one was exactly what they seemed. Montgomery and Edward, the two boys in the love triangle, weren’t clear cut good guys. There was no good vs. evil battle between them, since they were both dark and good in different ways.
While I wanted to love Juliet, for her fierceness and unwavering trust in her father, I just couldn’t. The second third of the novel became entirely focused on Juliet’s feelings for both boys, and which one she loved more, which drove me insane. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind romantic interludes, but they become superficial when boys are all the protagonist thinks and focuses on. This really took away from the story.
But then the last third of the story, in which the monster was introduced, really brought the creepy factor back. There’s one scene in which the monster is stalking the compound where Juliet is staying, all by herself, that was extremely well-written and described, and made me start flip pages anxiously again. From that point on, the narrative continued at a breakneck speed, as I tried to guess who the monster was and if Juliet was also one of her father’s experiments.
While I didn’t love the book as much as I’d hoped I would, I really enjoyed the Gothic setting and descriptive writing. The debate about the difference between humans and animals was also interesting, as Shepherd grapples with the question of what exactly makes us human.
So for that: 3.5/5.
Thanks for reading,