The Madman’s Daughter, by Megan Shepherd
First of all, The Madman’s Daughter was an impressive novel. Before I read this book, I would sometimes place this book on my to read shelf, and sometimes I’d take it off that shelf, because I was no longer that interested in reading it. That was because I wasn’t sure if I’d like it. In the end, I decided to give this book a try anyway, and I’m seriously glad I did, because this book is fantabulous.
The Madman’s Daughter has occasionally been classified as a horror novel, and rightly so (in my opinion at least). At certain moments, the book was extraordinarily creepy, horrific, and shocking… but in a good way. Not many writers are able to communicate the atmospheric feelings of their narrative that effectively, and at such a strong, constant rate. If those feelings that I gathered (i.e. creepy, horrific… etc.) were the general emotions that the book was intended to convey, then Ms Shepherd certainly tackled the emotional aspect of this book very skilfully.
Another thing I loved about this book were the characters. Like any person in the world, these characters had flaws and secrets. The flaws were excellently expressed, and they caused the characters to become very relatable. The flaws added great depth to the characters, and the knowledge that these characters had secrets were like the finishing touches- the icing on top of the cake. Some of these secrets were not too hard to guess though, and I suppose that disappointed me a little.
My favourite character was Juliet’s dad. It isn’t easy to portray a madman convincingly, but this madman was not only convincing, but one of the most interesting characters in the entire book. What made him such a convincing madman? His personality was abrupt, he had that air of madness around him, but most importantly, like all madmen, he thought that his mad experiments were for the greater good. The only thing that was annoying about him is his opinion about women- I mean seriously? Women can learn physiology too! But his opinion contributes to the setting, so I’m not going to complain about that too much. On top of that, he is terribly manipulative, as Juliet (finally) finds out… about two-thirds into the book. *Sigh*
“For a breath, the world seemed to freeze. And then the clouds rolled again, the wind howled again. I realized that he had charmed me, just like he charmed everyone. I’d thought I was so clever. I thought I could see past his manipulations. But I’d heard only what I wanted to.
He’d never said the accusations were untrue. Just unfair.”
As for my least favourite character… if you guessed Juliet, you are close. Edward is my least favourite character. I mean, Juliet isn’t all that bad. She’s very intelligent, and is able to stand her ground in a hyperbolically patriarchal society. But it takes Juliet… ah… a rather long time to catch on to certain peculiarities. For example, Edward’s weird attraction to her. I could already what Edward was a few chapters after they meet, but Juliet only figured it out sometime near the ending of the book.
Don’t even get me started on that “love triangle”. The romance in this book literally consisted of Edward’s “insta-love” for Juliet, Juliet’s “I feel this attraction for Montgomery, but I like Edward too- oh no!”, and Montgomery’s “I love thee, Juliet, but I am a bad man”. Montgomery’s love for Juliet wasn’t deeply expressed enough. His anguish at having done vivisection didn’t feel real.
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The book could do without the romance in my opinion.
I didn’t give this book such a high rating, because it didn’t have that “BANG” effect. Even though the book kept me reading, it was quite predictable. The first setting- London wasn’t elaborated upon or described thoroughly. Characters like Balthazar and Alice really boosted the story though. Fantastic read, I’d really recommend this to readers who love books that explore dark themes with a tinge of horror.
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