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.
I am the first to admit that, when it comes to creepy reads, I am not always your girl. I am a bit of a wimp, and tend to watch those scary horror films through my fingers. Unfortunately, when it comes to reading, that doesn’t really work so well, so it was with some trepidation that I went into The Madman’s Daughter. Having only a cursory knowledge of the source work – The Island of Dr. Moreau – I was nonetheless sure that this would be a somewhat brutal book. And I wasn’t wrong. There were times I definitely found myself cringing at the descriptions of the gore, but mostly I was horrified at Juliet’s father, who was just … a really terrible person.
I want to commend the author on the fabulously dark gothic setting of this book. Even when Juliet was still in London, the dark and dank of the walls and the city really came through the pages, placing me firmly in the narrative. I really felt myself traveling along with Juliet as she rode on the boat and came to her father’s island. The descriptive prose was beautiful and flowing, and – even when the events of the book had me shrinking away – I still very much enjoyed her style of writing and the way she told her story.
My one complaint was the romance of this book, which honestly got on my nerves. I didn’t like Montgomery very much at all; anyone who blindly follows such a horrible man as Dr. Moreau has some serious issues, and doesn’t make for a very romantic character. Edward, on the other hand, is nicely dark and mysterious, and I loved how the story of his life was slowly unraveled and revealed to the reader. I was definitely pulling much more for him!
I also need to give props to Juliet herself, who is one tough, determined lady. While I didn’t enjoy reading about her feelings for either of the boys, I did like how she worked to reconcile the fact that her father – despite his evil – was a part of her whether she liked it or not, and what that meant for her. I can’t help but be intrigued by her character; she has a lot of truths revealed to her and is really going to have to grapple with her knowledge of some dark and terrible things that are definitely going to impact her for a long time.
Brutal and gruesome in equal measures, The Madman’s Daughter is not a book for the faint of heart. There’s a lot of terrible goings-on happening throughout the story, and Juliet’s father is quite possibly one of the evilest men I’ve ever read about. While the romantic aspects of the story left a lot to be desired for me personally, I still very much enjoyed the setting, Juliet’s character, and the driving tension that moves the plot along. There is a very open ending that sets up the sequel, and after seeing what book it’s based on, I absolutely cannot wait to dive into it!