29. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Historical Fiction, Horror, Teen Books

The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd, 420 pages, read by Courtney, on 03/24/2013

Juliet Moreau has been working as a maid and living rather humbly after the scandal that rocked her family’s world. Her father, the infamous Henri Moreau, managed to escape London rather than facing jail time and left Juliet and her mother destitute. After her mother died, Juliet was left to fend for herself. After intruding on a late-night vivisection, Juliet finds a diagram being used by the medical students that was drawn by her own father. A bit of investigation and the desire to see if her father was indeed still alive leads her to an apartment where she runs into her father’s former servant, Montgomery and a hairy, malformed man called Balthazar. Montgomery and Balthazar are in England to pick up supplies for Juliet’s father and agree to take her with them to the isolated island off the coast of Australia. They set sail on a rather sketchy vessel and pick up a castaway named Edward along the way. Edward is full of secrets and refuses to discuss any of the details of his former life. Montgomery grudgingly agrees to allow Edward to join the small group.
Juliet is shocked to find that her father doesn’t seem in the least bit surprised to see her setting foot on the island. She’s also shocked when her father shoves Edward into the water and stands aside to watch him sink. Montgomery saves Edward at Juliet’s behest and, after a private conference with the doctor, Edward is allowed to stay on the island until the next ship passes by to pick him up.
Juliet finds her father to be cold, arrogant and largely dismissive of anyone else. He locks himself into his laboratory night after night, confirming the rumors that had been circulating around London. Meanwhile, Juliet tries desperately to get used to the odd appearance of the islanders, all of whom seem to regard her father as a god. Juliet discovers that a series of murders have been plaguing the islanders and Juliet suspects that her father’s experiments might be even worse than she ever thought possible. Oh, and she might just be falling in love with both Montgomery and Edward, neither of whom seem to particularly like each other.
Based on the Jules Verne classic, The Island of Dr. Moreau, this story asks the question: if Moreau had a daughter, what would her relationship with her father be like? There are also a whole host of other issues at the heart of the story, for instance, what makes humans human? A fast-paced and absorbing tale. Readers don’t necessarily need to have read the original to understand this tale, but it might help. I have not read the original, but am familiar with the plot. I would be interested to hear what a fan of the original would have to save about the points where this new version diverges from Vernes’.

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