Early Review – The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd

Posted January 11, 2013 by Bonnie in Book Reviews, Early Review, Giveaways, Read in 2013, YA / 27 Comments

I received this book free from a Giveaway, the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Early Review – The Madman’s Daughter by Megan ShepherdThe Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd
Series: The Madman's Daughter #1
Published by Balzer + Bray on January 29th 2013
Pages: 432
Genres: Fairy-Tales/Retellings, Gothic, Horror
Format: ARC
Source: a Giveaway, the Publisher


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.

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.

‘Dead flesh and sharpened scalpels didn’t bother me. I was my father’s daughter, after all. My nightmares were made of darker things.’

I feel the need to start off by saying I didn’t dislike this book but obviously considering my rating I have some explaining to do. There was creepiness, there was a decent story line, but the pacing was so incredibly slow that it had an adverse effect on my overall opinion on this gothic retelling.

Let me tell you guys, the beginning of this story had so much creepy going on it was amazing. I remember starting this book, finishing the first couple of chapters, stopping for a second and saying to myself, “This is going to be so awesome.” Juliet seemed to be a very promising main character and I couldn’t wait to hear her story. But the gothic thriller aspect seemed to be put on the back burner and definitely became less of a focus. What did it end up focusing on? Romance, of course.

There was so much emphasis put on the romance and her being torn between two men, her swooning and constant need to fan herself that I would go so far as to consider this ‘historical-romance-lite’. If not for the creepy and exceptionally gruesome bits in this story I don’t believe I would have finished this. As it was though, the romance didn’t feel fitting in this type of story, like an irregular puzzle piece.

I had been forewarned that the middle dawdled but that the ending was a big shocker so that gave me hope. The pacing was definitely off for the vast majority of the middle portion and didn’t actually start picking up until almost the very end of the book. The big reveal happened and it was definitely the most interesting aspect of the entire story but it happened a little too late for me. There wasn’t a slow build-up to the grand finale which would have made this immensely better. Instead we received a storyline that plodded along, lacking in intensity, never quite gaining enough steam, and then we’re hit with the big ending. The middle section certainly required something more for me to still be invested enough in the story to be excited for when the big conclusion finally did happen.

Oh, and there’s a cliffhanger. Naturally. I think my response to that final page was something along the lines of, “Dude. For real?” Considering I was more than a bit bored through the majority of this story I was at least hoping we’d get some answers. I had still considered giving #2 a shot since sometimes it takes the first book to build the story (in a series) and book 2 is where we can finally get to the meat of the story. But my understanding was that this was a retelling of the Island of Dr. Moreau, however, the summary for book 2 states it was written: with inspiration from Robert Louis Stevenson’s ‘THE STRANGE CASE OF DR JEKYLL AND MR HYDE’ and I’m not sure I feel about the mixing of multiple retellings.


27 responses to “Early Review – The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd

  1. Allie L

    Thank you for this giveaway. I have to say, this storyline is so interesting! BUT, now I am not so excited to read it.I probably still will though.

  2. Heidi@Rainy Day Ramblings

    I was never drawn to this one and after your review I am glad I skipped it. I cannot handle a cliffhanger especially of it drags. I am so disgusted with cliffhangers these days!
    Thanks for the honest review, much appreciated!

  3. Jill Marie

    Thanks for the honest review!
    I have been really looking forward to this book and I hope I still think it’s awesome. Although im glad im going into it with an open mind!
    Also thanks for the giveaway!

  4. Maja (The Nocturnal Library)

    Yeah, that was pretty much my reaction to the ending too. I had some problems with this one as well, there were things I liked, but there were also things that didn’t make much sense, and you know me, I despise that which doesn’t make sense. 😀
    Anyway, we’re pretty much on the same page here.
    Great review, Bonnie.

  5. Holly Letson

    I had heard good things about this, but this review makes me wonder. I’m still kind of curious about it.

  6. Oh sorry you didn’t enjoy this book as much as you’d hoped Bonnie, I’d heard some great things about it too! But with the flat middle you described, I don’t think I would have been able to finish the book off, but well done for sticking it out! I hope your next read is a lot more enjoyable! 🙂

  7. Amanda

    This novel has been so hyped up recently. I’m sorry that it didn’t live up to your expectations. I would probably also be frustrated with the romance, since that’s not what the book’s blurb promises the story to be about at all. I really want to read the Wells classic before this book, but I’m not sure if that would then negatively affect my enjoyment of this book, if it deviates too much from it or what. I do think that series with different retellings can work well, depending on what the author does. I haven’t read Scarlet yet, but everyone seems to think that moving from Cinderella to Little Red Riding Hood works pretty well.

  8. Christine

    Sorry you didn’t enjoy this one that much–I’ve been a bit iffy about its potential myself, but I still think I’ll give it a shot!

  9. Kris-10

    Thanks for the awesome giveaway! :))

    I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy the book, I’ve heard so many great reviews about it that I’m really curious as to whether or not I’ll like it. 😛

  10. Laura @ Laura's Adventures in Bookland

    too bad this book didn’t agree with you. I hope I get the chance to try it out though.

  11. Sarah A.

    Thanks for the review! I’d been hearing a lot of good things about this one, especially how creepy it is. I just LOVE creepy books but the switch to focus on romance would have been a bummer. I still will probably wind up reading it eventually.

  12. Lil Berry

    I’ve heard this book be described as gory, creepy but not as slow passed.
    Don’t know what to think about an evil cliffhanger on the end of this book, they can be a sweet torture or a crime against humanity.
    Thank you for the review and the giveaway 😀

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