The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd

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The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd

Category: General Fiction
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Susmita Chatto
Reviewed by Susmita Chatto
Summary: Shepherd’s writing is good quality and the book is well paced and certainly interesting, but some small alterations could have made it really gripping.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 368 Date: April 2013
Publisher: Harper Voyager
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0007500208

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Teenager Juliet Moreau has had a hard life since her father was vilified by Victorian society. Thinking him long dead, she scrapes a living as best she can – but a chance discovery at a macabre event leads to her to learn that he is alive and her life is cast into chaos.

This novel gets off to a terrific start. The protagonist’s nature is revealed by plenty of action which takes place in a sinister underworld of Victorian science. The exposition of Juliet’s past sits well in this context; the writing is clear and the tale is well paced. Juliet has been through a great deal and the trauma of her muddled young life is beautifully explained. Shepherd also knows how to create a sense of place. As a Londoner, I’m often attracted to London-based novels and having read several descriptions, I still found that Shepherd’s portrayal was lively and evocative. The novel is not limited to London; it moves easily from one location to another and all the right details are given to evoke the relevant sense of wherever we happen to be.

As the story progresses, it weaves in many ethical issues and the complexities of a rational, or super rational mind. Juliet’s fear that being so rational about subjects that others find highly emotional may indicate something wrong with her, was extremely well portrayed. The difficulties of her interest in science in the Victorian era, in which women were assumed to be delicate flowers who should be kept away from such subjects, were well explored and I could feel her frustration keenly.

However, I noticed early on that the language was so clear, it was bordering on the modern. As it worked with the way the novel was flowing, I thought little of it. Unfortunately, later on, there are several uses of the word gotten and this really jarred with me. It is not indicated that Juliet has any American roots, and even if she did, I doubt that any Londoner in the Victorian age would use that term. I understand that the word itself is quite old but found the usage here seemed a terrible fit.

Midway through the novel, in spite of a great storyline, the book becomes less enjoyable.There are points where events are moving rapidly but Shepherd draws out situations with description that becomes self-indulgent. Her descriptive skills are top-notch but in-depth detail can be irritating when you are ready for the next development, and sometimes those developments lose impact due to being over-described. The romance weaved in also proved slightly irritating; I found it hard to care about that side of things when so many other fascinating events were occurring. The character development of Montgomery and Edward got slightly lost in the myriad of description; it was easy to see why Juliet might find them physically attractive but I didn’t feel I knew enough about them on other levels. Dr Moreau might have to remain remote for all kinds of reasons, but the same is hard to say for potential love interests.

Overall, Shepherd’s writing is good quality and the book is well paced and certainly interesting, but some small alterations could have made it really gripping.

If this book appeals then why not try The Ghost of Lily Painter by Caitlin Davies?

Buy The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd at Amazon.com.


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