“The Madman’s Daughter” by Megan Shepherd

Madman's Daughter Cover

When Juliet Moreau learns that her father, a scientist who has been banished from London after charges of performing unethical experiments, is alive and carrying on his work on a remote island in the South Pacific, she sets off to join him. It is not, however, the happy reunion she would have liked. Her father’s work is still shrouded in mystery and the island is populated by many unusual inhabitants. After a series of violent attacks on the residents of the island, Juliet becomes deeply suspicious of the exact nature of her father’s experiments.

Inspired by H.G. Wells’ The Island of Doctor Moreau, The Madman’s Daughter has an excellent gothic-horror atmosphere. In addition, Shepherd stays true to the feel of early works of science fiction such as Wells’ novels and even Frankenstein. Although the book takes place at the end of the 19th century and the experiments described are quite fantastical, the discussion of ethics versus scientific progress is still incredibly relevant.

It was interesting to try to piece together what is actually happening on the island, and there are several truly scary moments in the novel. The Madman’s Daughter does feature the typical YA love triangle; Juliet tries to choose between her lifelong friend Montgomery, and Edward, a castaway she encounters on the way to the island. This was not my favorite aspect of the story, but overall it did not detract too much from the true strength of the novel: Shepherd’s skill in constructing a suspenseful gothic mystery. The ending will definitely leave the reader eager to begin the sequels, Her Dark Curiosity, and Her Cold Legacy, which are just as compelling.

-Check out this book or put it on hold.

–Caitlin C.

“This Dark Endeavour” by Kenneth Oppel

TDE

This Dark Endeavour is the first book in Oppel’s The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein series. Taking place when Victor Frankenstein was just a teenager, This Dark Endeavour charts Victor’s quest to find the elixir of life after his twin brother, Konrad, falls seriously ill. Accompanied by Konrad, and their distant cousin, Elizabeth, Viktor begins to study ancient alchemical texts after finding a secret library in his family’s chateau. Yet, once Konrad gets sick, Victor’s interest in alchemy becomes an obsession, often putting his and Elizabeth’s lives in danger as they try to gather the ingredients necessary for the elixir of life. The story is suspenseful and atmospheric, and I often could not put it down.

Fans of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and of the gothic horror genre are sure to enjoy this gripping read. Oppel stays true to the feel of Shelley’s original work, while creating a whole new back story and bringing new life to the characters of Frankenstein in this prequel. He also expertly writes his characters, creating a plausible explanation for the adult Victor Frankenstein’s obsession with overcoming death. This Dark Endeavour is followed up by an excellent sequel, Such Wicked Intent, and I am eagerly awaiting Oppel announcing the third book in the series.

Check this book out or put it on hold.
-Caitlin Connelly