Book Review: The Madman’s Daughter series by Megan Shepherd

Title: The Madman’s Daughter series
Author: Megan Shepherd
Genre: YA/sci-fi
Date Read: 22/06/2015 – 22/07/2015 (intermittently)
Rating: ★★★★


madmancoverI’m reviewing this series as a whole because I’m not sure that i wouldn’t repeat myself a lot if I wrote three separate ones. This is not to say that the three books are all the same if you’ve read one, you’ve read them all. It’s just that have similar themes running through them, and obviously the same characters, so I think I would end up saying similar things.

The three books in the series are The Madman’s Daughter, Her Dark Curiosity and A Cold Legacy and they are based on The Island of Dr Moreau by H. G. Wells, the Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson and Frankenstein by Mary Shelley respectively.

In book one, we meet Juliet Moreau, a sixteen-year-old whose scientist father disappeared amid much scandal several years before. Juliet learns that he may in fact not be dead, as she had always thought, and travels to a near-inhospitable island to learn what he has been doing all these years. There she learns that the rumours were really not so far from the truth, and she only just escapes the island with her life.

In the second book, Juliet is back in London, where a spate of murders have been taking place. The one thing the victims all have in common: they had all wronged Juliet in some way. As she struggles to track down the murderer and realises that perhaps one of her father’s creations escaped the island and followed her home, she also learns that her father’s research is a lot more sought after than she thought, and she is forced to weigh up the lives of the few against the lives of the many.

In the third, Juliet and her friends take refuge in the von Stein estate in northern Scotland. But still, they aren’t safe from the beasts that have toyed with them.

These are very dark books, make no mistake. There is violence, bloodshed, detailed description of medical procedures, along with awful treatment of animals. They are not for the faint-hearted. Juliet herself is quite a morally ambiguous character; while she wants to ensure that she does not follow in her father’s footsteps, there are times when she sees it as the only option. The books are written in first person, which usually annoys me a bit, but Juilet’s narration didn’t, I think because she was darker than most of the leads in YA. There were times when she was waxing lyrical about her main love interest, and that wore a bit thin, but for the most part, it worked.

Speaking of love interests, there is something of a love triangle, but it’s messed up and actually serves the plot, for once! And by the end of the series, it has actually worked itself into a square, when another character comes into it. All that subversion of the usual YA romance tropes was really refreshing to read.

There were some weird themes running through it, especially the third book, which I didn’t agree with (apparently it is impossible for Juliet to take after someone she is not related to, even if it’s that person’s personality and not his genetics?) but I was able to overlook those for the most part.

Overall, I highly recommend this series, though only to those with a strong constitution!

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