The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd

The Madness is in her blood.

I know the saying goes “never judge a book by its cover” but that usually refers to people, not books. I do this a lot when looking for books to read, as I’m sure many people do. This book was no exception.

I was initially drawn to “The Madman’s Daughter” from the anatomical heart drawn on this cover, the word “madman” drew me in even more – who doesn’t love a story steeped in insanity. So I ordered it, not having the slightest clue what it was about…aside from the daughter of a madman.

(Please note, some slight spoilers ahead)

Upon reading it I was transported to London, 1894, following Juliet Moreau as she almost begrudgingly goes about her daily life, lamenting the life she had and the family she lost. Initially I liked her as a female protagonist, she was smart and didn’t seem to mind showing up the boys (which considering the time and her position is credit to her). The first few chapters were gripping, the scene was well set and I felt myself opening up to the characters, there was just enough macabre to draw you in with the promise of more to come.

I will say that if I had done even a little bit of research on this book (I don’t think I even read the blurb) I would have known I was stumbling into a rendition of The Island of Doctor Moreau, which, when unexpected, is strange and little disappointing. The surname of the character should have given it away though, I was probably just being an idiot.

However I persevered, more because I hate not finishing a book than anything else. I felt that all the building up of Juliet into a strong female character at the beginning was rendered inconsequential upon her arrival to the island, her involvement in a tense love triangle, her need for approval from her domineering father hastened the deterioration of this. Coupled with her always seeming to rely of one of the two gentlemen in order to feel protected…it just annoyed me. Once chapter I thought we were finally going to get to see the monster, we were instead treated to needlepoint.

To go back to the love triangle briefly, I neither love nor hate them. Sometimes they are used excellently as a vehicle to move a story or character development forward. But this one seemed to take over a lot of the narrative, which I thought was detrimental to the entire reading experience.

That being said, it was an alright read. Yes, I guessed the twist. Yes, there were parts that didn’t keep me gripped.  Maybe my love of the original story by H.G. Wells clouded my judgement of this one.

Will I read the others in the series? Probably not.

Favourite quotes from the book:

Our fortune had been built on blood, the acrid odor infused into the very bricks of our house, the clothes that we wore.

I leaned over the rail and studied the black horizon. Moonlight reflected off the waves like scales of some dark dragon.

The jungle rose around me like a fortress of tree and stone.

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