Review – The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd

  • Title: The Madman’s Daughter
  • Author: Megan Shepherd
  • Series: The Madman’s Daughter #1
  • Source: Library

Description from Goodreads:

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.


I have heard many people rave about how good The Madman’s Daughter is, so I put it on hold at the library and read it when it came in. It didn’t fully sound like my type of book, but I’ve had others surprise me, so I decided to give it a chance. I didn’t hate it, so I don’t regret reading it, but I probably should have gone with my gut. I certainly didn’t love it. Honestly, I’m still trying to decide, almost 2 weeks after finishing it, whether I liked it or just thought it was okay.

As it says in the description, The Madman’s Daughter is a retelling of The Island of Dr. Moreau. I was not familiar with this story, so I looked it up on Wikipedia before starting. I kind of wish I hadn’t, and I kind of wish that the fact that it is inspired by The Island of Dr. Moreau wasn’t stated in the description. I think it took away a lot of what could have made the book so much better for me. I should have gone into it blind.

The Madman’s Daughter starts off with Juliet in London, orphaned and working as a cleaning lady at the local college to earn a meager living. After going to a party, she sees something that she shouldn’t have, which leads her to believe her father is a live. She goes in search of clues and finds out that he is when she runs into their old servant boy, Montgomery, who disappeared at the same time as her father. After running into some trouble, Juliet goes back to Montgomery and demands he take her back to the island to see her father. Along the way, they find a castaway who is almost dead, and Juliette convinces Montgomery and the captain of the ship taking them to the island to save his life. Here inevitably starts a completely absurd and, in my opinion, unnecessary love triangle between Juliet, Montgomery, and the castaway, Edward.

Honestly, I think I have two major complaints about The Madman’s Daughter, but they kind of tie together. First, I just felt it was a bit too long. There were several scenes that I felt were unnecessary and drawn out. Part of the problem, I think, is that as the reader, if you’re familiar with the story of Dr. Moreau, then you know a lot of what’s going on on the island. However, Juliet is clueless, so we spend a lot of time with her wondering and just being in the dark. I felt that that got old really quickly, and I just wanted her to figure out what was going on. Like I said, if I hadn’t read the plot of The Island of Dr. Moreau, this may not have felt as drawn out to me, and I may have been on the edge of my seat, along with Juliet, wanting to know what was going on. Unfortunately, I did know what was going on, so it took out a lot of the mystery, and it frustrated me and made Juliet seem naive and ignorant.

I don’t remember everything about the book, but I do remember making a comment to my mother around page 250 wondering what on earth could possibly happen in the 170 more pages. A lot did happen, and the ending was actually pretty good, including a few twists that I didn’t see coming.

Overall, I thought that The Madman’s Daughter was a decent read, but that it may have benefitted from a little cutting. Like I said, I felt it was a little long and drawn out in places. But it still wasn’t horrible.

Apparently, The Madman’s Daughter is going to be part of a series, but for me, I actually liked the ending. I thought it tied things up fairly nicely, and I was satisfied. I feel no urge to read the sequel, however, I might, if I hear good things about it. I don’t really like to not finish series, but it’s definitely not one that I feel is a must read for me. Since I still can’t decide how I feel about it, I’m going to give it 2.5 stars.

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3 thoughts on “Review – The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd

  1. Susan (Bloggin' 'bout Books) April 18, 2013 at 9:40 am Reply

    I skimmed your review since I haven’t read this one yet, but I can see you found it disappointing. I’ve heard great things about it, so … hmm … now I wonder if I’ll like it or not. Guess there’s only one way to find out …

    • Mommy's Reading Break April 21, 2013 at 2:46 pm Reply

      I’m pretty sure I left out any spoilers, so it should be safe to read. Honestly, it’s not my usual genre anyway, so I was a bit skeptical, but if you typically like this type of book, you probably would still like it. I’ve been a slump lately, though. Other than parts of established series, I’ve mostly been not loving many books lately. It kind of sucks actually! lol I want to love everything I read!

  2. […] The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd (2.5 stars) […]

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