First in a trilogy
By Megan Shepherd
Available now from Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins)
Believe the hype. THE MADMAN'S DAUGHTER is terrifying, sexy, and utterly enthralling. Juliet Moreau and her mother where left to eke out an existence on their own after her father fled England following a scandal. When her mother died, Juliet took employment as a maid. But a young, pretty girl surrounded by students is not safe, and Juliet's life is a struggle to survive. Then she finds Montgomery James, her family's former servant, and believes he can lead her to her father.
Those familiar with H.G. Wells's The Island of Dr. Moreau probably know where the story will end up. I've never read that classic, but I have read DR. FRANKLIN'S ISLAND by Ann Halam, so I had some ideas about what was really going on. Juliet, on the other hand, prefers to think the best of her father. After all, she remembers him being a good dad, even if he did abandon her.
Juliet and Montgomery are not the only one's on her father's island. There's also Edward Prince, a castaway Juliet rescued from the sea. She's drawn to him, even as the bond she and Montgomery had as children is renewed. It doesn't help that both boys are excellent kissers. But no matter who she likes or doesn't like, she's determined to get both boys off the island and away from its horrible experiments.
Debut author Megan Shepherd skillfully combines romance with horror. THE MADMAN'S DAUGHTER explores medical ethics and what it means to be a human, plus it has scenes of people being stalked through a jungle by a killer monster. As for the romance, I hate how many books are making me enjoy love triangles lately. But Juliet has off-the-scales chemistry with both Montgomery and Edward, and she's never worried about who she wants to kiss when she should be worrying about what craziness her father has unleashed.
Juliet is a fantastic character in her own right. She's knowledgeable about medicine, from paying attention to her father when she was young and the labs where she worked at King's College. In fact, she knows more than some medical students. She's very practical. Though she was born into wealth, she has little pride. She's willing to take low employment to survive, but Juliet does not want to resort to prostitution. Whenever the guys get onto her for coming to the island, she knows that she didn't have many options in England. And, well, if she isn't a lady, she isn't going to act like one. She'll travel with men, she'll do what she wants, and she'll keep something sharp at hand. You go, girl.
It's only January, but I feel that I can safely say THE MADMAN'S DAUGHTER is one of the best books of the year. It's thoughtful, passionate, and chilling. Bring on book two!