Literary Friday: The Madman's Daughter

Synopsis according to Goodreads:
"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.

I expected The Madman's Daughter to be interesting, given that it's based on the gothic thriller The Island of Doctor Moreau. I did not expect it to be this good. Written for an intelligent audience, but with enough action to keep from being entirely cerebral, it's an imaginative ride through horror, mystery, love, and the voyage of self-identity.

Juliet is a well-fleshed protagonist, and another example of a great female character role model. She has hope in her, but also darkness, and she fights for her morality and sanity the way that a proper woman should. Unlike some historical fictions, Juliet is believable and yet modern- she's a strong and stubborn female whose knowledge of biology exceeds society's expectation (and there is plausible explanation for that), but she also views the world through the lens that Victorian women would. In other words, the character is relatable and the world is believably Victorian, not modernized for the ease of viewers.

The narrative doesn't shy away from difficult subjects, and although it's vividly described (and some might say gruesome), it isn't gratuitous. Megan Shepherd has landed herself on my favorite authors list with this novel. And did I mention the hundred plot twists and surprises that weave the narrative seamlessly? I read it, cover to cover, in three days.

I highly recommend this book for lovers of classic gothic stories, strong female protagonists, well-executed historical fiction, fans of science and the classic themes of science fiction, and those who enjoy believable romances and surprises.

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