The Madman’s Daughter | Megan Shepherd | Book Review

My interest in The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd was peaked at the Harper Teen BEA party event. Basically they held the event at this really cool bar and we got to learn all kinds of cool things. One of those things being the evolution of the book cover design for The Madman’s Daughter and the various iterations it went through. You guys, I am a total cover whore, I can’t pretend like I don’t pick what I read based off the cover. And of course, this is such a me cover — from the red color of the font, to the dreary landscape to that awesome dress to the brunette (holla brown haired girls), I love this cover. And so, OMFG, I could absolutely not wait to read The Madman’s Daughter. Y’all, this debut was TOTALLY worth the wait. TOTALLY.

The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd | Good Books And Good Wine

SPOILER ALERT: Juliet’s father is a madman. Shocking, right? I bet you never would have guessed that. Anyways, he basically does somethings that society is not cool with (he’s a doctor of sorts) including vivisection, and so, a once prominent figure, he ends up falling from grace. He then ends up kind of disappearing, thus leaving Juliet and her mother with NOTHING, because he is a douchebag. Unfortunately, Juliet’s mom dies and well, she has to go into service, but it’s hard because of her dad’s reputation. When a blast from the past (her family’s old servant) crosses Juliet’s path, she discovers her dad is well and alive on an island. As Juliet’s life totally sucks in London, she decides to go to the Island of Doctor Moreau. And yes, it’s just as creepy as the original.

Juliet definitely deserves to be narrator. Like, she compelled me. Plus, she wasn’t boring or simpering. Nor was she a total weirdo despite her dad. AND OMG YOU GUYS THE FEELS. I totally had these emotions for Juliet because she’s been dealt an awful card in life, and seriously how much does it suck to have a parent who totally does not have their shit together and also a dead parent. YET. She is strong. She faces her problems head on, instead of taking the easy way out. You know me, I love a headstrong character and Juliet is totally one of those — whether she’s living impoverished in London, on the sketchiest boat journey ever or dealing with her misogynist dad, she has this well of inner strength.

I absolutely loved Megan Shepherd’s descriptions of the worlds that Juliet inhabits. Like, not just the island, but London. She describes a London that’s just getting electricity and kind of straddling the modern era while also there’s one foot firmly on the side of tradition — especially when it comes to society. I was dismayed at how society treated Juliet after all her family had been through, but I suppose scandal leaves no one untouched. I also really loved how the island was described. As a reader, I was feeling a scary sinister sort of undercurrent the whole entire time. And also, claustrophobic to be honest. I may call myself a hermit, but I could never survive on Moreau’s island where there’s only like 5 human residents. Forget that you guys. Anyways, it’s lush and so, so well done and easy to imagine the compound.

Fair warning, there is a love triangle in The Madman’s Daughter and it’s not really my favorite ever. I mean, okay okay I did have trouble deciding which team I was on. There’s Montgomery who is basically Juliet’s past. He knows so much about her and they really do have a shared history. However, he seems kind of distant on the island, yet also a bit valiant too so that makes him appealing. Then there is the mysterious Edward Prince, whom ultimately, I could take or leave. He’s got sort of a weird back story and just didn’t really bring the swoons. You’ll get why when you read the book.

I feel like The Madman’s Daughter starts off kind of slow, but honestly once you get on the sketchy ship that’s when the pacing truly picks up and when I felt utterly engaged. So, just putting that out there for those of you who need an immediate fast pace. Along those lines, Megan Shepherd’s word choice is actually pretty awesome because it gives this proper historical sort of feel to the book, but at the same time is totally accessible, so you aren’t reading it going uh can someone translate this for me. I really like it enhanced the feel of the book and engaged me as a reader. There’s a certain amount of buy in needed to really love this book — I mean buying into the concept of a madman who fuses people and animals, but for me that wasn’t so hard to do.

Friends, I’d actually really recommend The Madman’s Daughter to most of you. I mean, obviously if you hate historical fiction and love triangles, this is probably not going to be added to your favorites list. However if you like unique spins on old classics, lush backgrounds, strong world building and intriguing characters and social dynamics, chances are you’ll fall as hard for Megan Shepherd’s debut as I did.

Disclosure: Received for review

Other reviews of The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd:

Hobbitsies – “a delightfully creepy and horrific debut

Makeshift Bookmark – “Can we please pause to raise the roof for a snarky badass of a heroine?

The Perpetual Page Turner – “What a compelling story!

About April (Books&Wine)

April is 28 years old and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. In her free time she can be found reading, working out, or eating junk food. She often wears her sunglasses at night.

Comments

  1. I actually really preferred the London sections with Juliet in service and talking about the dangerous life for young women on their own. Once she reached the island, it was a little too creepy for me and the love triangle bothered me to no end.

  2. I’ve been kind of on the fence about this one, but I think I’m going to pick it up. Love triangles aren’t my favourite thing, but I love historical fiction. Although the whole madman fusing things together… it’s definitely going to give me major creeps.

  3. I’ve been super curious about this one. It’s not really my typical read as I’m not a huge historical fan, but I think I’d like this one. Your review certainly makes me want to pick it up asap!

  4. I can’t really put into words how your review made me crave this book. It is a icky rainy day here in TX. I need this book here & now.

  5. I’m right there with you on the cover — it fits the gothic feel of this book so well! Plus, a really intriguing and creepy read. Plenty of emotion, enough action to keep me interested and interesting characters, all FTW!

  6. I ADORED this book! The setting, the descriptions of seedy London life, the creatures. LOVED IT.

    I totally agree about the love triangle though. I was fairly meh about the whole thing. Not only could I have done without it, but neither boy was all that great AND IT TOOK AWAY FROM MONSTERS OKAY.

    Really though, fantastic book and I’m super excited for the next one!

  7. Cover whore, RIGHT HERE! No really. It’s a failing, but an understandable one, I think. And this cover is straight up beautiful-I’d-put-it-on-my-wall-ART, so I think we’re excused, at least this once.

    I do love historical fiction, but I can’t stand love triangles, so this may be a bit of a stretch for me. I did meet Shepherd and she’s LOVELY. Also: she is working on a sci-fi series. BE STILL MY HEART.

    (sorry for all the caps but it felt right)(you know?)

    Anyway, great review April! I will read this. I will.

    • I agree, this cover is art indeed.

      See the love triangle really is not that great, but it’s worth enduring just for the historical fiction goodness. I’m glad Shepherd is nice in real life. YAY SCI FI.

      I love all the caps.

      Whoo-hoo! Mission accomplished!

  8. I have been seeing this one around a lot lately. I can’t decide if I want to read it. It definitely intrigues me, and I love that Juliet doesn’t seem to throw a pity party. But love triangles often frustrate me and I feel like I have less patience for them now.

    But, I do like historical fiction, and creepy books. So I should give it a try.

    Also, on a completely different topic – “legit” has made it into my every day vocabulary! I was talking to someone at work, and definitely used it. LOL. I think it is because I’ve read (and loved) so many of your posts, and now I can’t get the word out of my head! It’s a good thing. Just passing on the credit, I guess. I also use “totes” all the time because of The Lydia Bennet. It’s funny how things like that affect you.

    • Quinn, this one is fantastic — and I think the love triangle while not the best element doesn’t entirely detract from the rest of the book. The creepy factor is totally awesome.

      HAHAHHAHAHAH I am a bad influence. <3 Legit. ALSO, yes Lydia Bennet, I love her and her slang and say totes as well.

  9. Gosh, I love this enthusiastic review! This is really exciting and tells me many things that I need to know. It tells me not only that the MC is strong but that the is very strong, which is awesome. It expands on the creepy-factor of the book, which to be honest is something that I kind of dig – take that as you will. I swear I’m not all that weird. I kind of like love triangles if they’re good ones but this one sounds kind of clunky but it shouldn’t be a dealbreaker if everything else is okay. Like the settings? You make them sound excellent. Also, love it when a book takes on a classic story and does well by it.

    We all know I pick my books based on cover, because I’ve judged and misjudged both correctly and incorrectly time and time again, so I like that you mention your thoughts on this cover. I wasn’t sure about the book ultimately, though, because of all of the hype surrounding it. Hype and buzz makes me so wary but you make it sound worthy, and I like that. I’m on the list for this at the library. I’m not in the biggest of hurries since my TBR is large, but when I get the email, it will be a great surprise and I’ll be thrilled about it. Great review, April!

    • Asheley, I say this ALL the time, but I love your fantastic comments — because they validate my reviews and show that I meet my aims, mainly of giving people good info about books. No, it’s cool I like creepy books as well, it totally does not make you weird. Yeah, while the love triangle could have been totally awful, I thought that it was actually well done.

      Ha ha, it happens to the best of us re: covers and picking books.
      Thank you so much <333

  10. I’m so glad you liked this one! I was trying to decide between buying the Madman’s Daughter or Pivot Point, but I settled on MMD, and I hope I love it, too. Even though I’m wary about going into books where I know for a fact that there will be a love triangle, I love dark settings like this and it sounds way too good to pass up.

    • I’m actually quite curious about Pivot Point, a few of my friends liked it, but one DNFed it. Yeah, the dark setting more than makes up for the love triangle. It’s definitely worth buying, I think.

  11. This book is literally on my shelf right now and I can’t wait to get to it because really it just sounds fantastic. I don’t really like love triangles so that’ll be interesting, but I always end up getting sucked into them so knowing me I won’t care. I think I’m most looking forward to the creepy aspect because I am a TOTAL wimp so while I can’t really read anything horror, I can do creepy.

  12. I absolutely LOVE the cover of this book. It’s soooo beautiful. I’ve been looking forward to it for ages. I had to put a special book order at my local bookstore to make sure I got it the day it came out. I’m a horror junkie, so I was so excited when I heard about this book. I’m going to devour this weekend.

    • Isn’t the cover utterly gorgeous? How cool that you got it exactly on release day! AHHH! Horror books are THE BEST. I bet your weekend will be awesome because you’ll be reading The Madman’s Daughter.

  13. I finished this book about a week ago or so and I liked it a lot. I wasn’t too fond of the love triangle and there were some things that I didn’t like while reading it, but overall it was pretty good. Great review! 🙂

  14. Okay, so the unnecessary love triangle I can do without. Forget boys, give me more of that freaky experimentation stuff any day! I really love it when an author manages to take an old classic and put a fresh new spin on it. Despite some of the annoyances, The Madman’s Daughter really sounds like a win. And hooray for strong, brunette protagonists!! YEAH!

  15. I had the opportunity to hear the author speak about the book a couple of weeks ago (I went to see Lenore Appelhans) and she sold me on The Madman’s Daughter. I really did enjoy reading it — absolutely beautiful writing — but I did think it was almost overwritten sometimes. Like, 50-60 pages could have been shaved off the end.

  16. I really think I need to get this book. First off, I LOVE the cover and it just sounds so creepy and delightful! I love a good historical book, though I’m a little partial to love triangles, BUT I think I’d be willing to suffer through it. 🙂

    Great review!

  17. YEah, this is not going to be added to my list because it’s not really in my go-to genres but it sounds pretty good if you like that sort of thing and the cover is lovely.
    Thanks for sharing your review.

  18. I’m actually looking forward to starting this one, but I also know that I have to read it when I feel like I’m in the right frame of mind. It sounds all sorts of interesting and creepy and unusual, and sometimes, books like that are just the thing I need.

  19. I don’t know, I don’t really dig historical fiction, but I totally loved The Madman’s Daughter. The love triangle, however, I did not dig. I’m not usually a love triangle hater, but Edward just felt a little unnecessary. I mean, he was obviously necessary to the plot, but not to the romance.

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