Thursday, September 5, 2013

Badass Books: The Madman's Daughter

Earlier this summer I finished The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd as a part of my 2013 Debut Author's Challenge (on which I am sorely behind). If you're looking for a book to read and like historical fiction + romances, I'd recommend it.

Summary (from Goodreads)

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.

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.

Spoilers in white.

Why I Read It: I added this one to my DAC list because I'm working on an alternate history piece, so I like to see how other people write about the past--the language they use, the way they describe the clothing. I especially wanted to see how Shepard handled the way women were treated at this time because I'm working through how to craft reactions to the female characters in my story.

More DAC info here.

ZOMG Yes! I like that the title of this story upset me, and that the author used that. I'm not usually a fan of story titles about a heroine who is defined by the men in her life. I didn't want to know about the madman's daughter. I wanted to know about Juliet. But it was her association with her father that was one of her primary struggles, and so I think the title worked.

I also liked the ending. SPOILERS (ok not that spoilery, but still): I liked that the ending was unexpected. I liked that Juliet was forced to no longer allow the men in her life to define her but to make her own path. I don't like that Montgomery didn't think about how difficult that would be for her but only thoughtabout himself. Which leads me to my next point...

Hmmm: Montgomery was selfish, and I get that people can be selfish, but it bothered me because he was a primary love interest. But at the same time, I kind of liked it because I think even that was a commentary on the way women and men interacted with each other during this time period.

kthxbai Overall it was a good read, and I'm glad I picked it up. Check it out if you're looking for a 2013 debut.


  1. You raise some really good points here, Liz. And things that I hadn't thought of when I read the book. I think overall Shepherd did a good job of portraying the lack of agency women had in the day. I really could have done without all of the vivisection though. O_o It almost bothers me more when animals suffer than humans. Is that horrible? That said, I'll definitely be picking up Book 2 when it hits the shelves. Great review, Liz! :-)

  2. I had mixed feelings about this one. There were some things I loved (the setting, the language, the historical aspects), and some I felt eh about. I wasn't sure if I'd read the next book in the series until the very end of this one. It was just so shocking, I'm going to have to see what comes next for Juliet.

    Great write-up, Liz!

  3. It's interesting that you bring up the issue of Juliet being controlled by the men in her life during a time when women had very little autonomy, because I felt the author made a similar statement in her treatment of Montgomery as someone from a lower social class. I agree that he was selfish at times, and I think some of that behavior was prompted by the fact that, as a servant, he was also very much under the thumb of Juliet's father. I guess while it's interesting to read about the Victorian era, it really wasn't a great time for many people, was it? Thanks for this perceptive review, Liz! :)