*WARNING: THIS REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS*
The Madman’s Daughter Trilogy is a YA trilogy by debut author Megan Shepherd. Each book in the series is inspired by a specific classic gothic novel: The Madman’s Daughter is inspired by The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells; Her Dark Curiosity is inspired by Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson; and A Cold Legacy is inspired by Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley.
The Madman’s Daughter summary (via 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. Accompanied by her father’s handsome young assistant, Montgomery, and an enigmatic castaway, Edward—both of whom she is deeply drawn to—Juliet travels to the island, only to discover the depths of her father’s madness: He has experimented on animals so that they resemble, speak, and behave as humans. And worse, one of the creatures has turned violent and is killing the island’s inhabitants. Torn between horror and scientific curiosity, Juliet knows she must end her father’s dangerous experiments and escape her jungle prison before it’s too late. Yet as the island falls into chaos, she discovers the extent of her father’s genius—and madness—in her own blood.
Her Dark Curiosity summary (via Goodreads): Months have passed since Juliet Moreau returned to civilization after escaping her father’s island—and the secrets she left behind. Now, back in London once more, she is rebuilding the life she once knew and trying to forget Dr. Moreau’s horrific legacy—though someone, or something, hasn’t forgotten her. As people close to Juliet fall victim one by one to a murderer who leaves a macabre calling card of three clawlike slashes, Juliet fears one of her father’s creations may have also escaped the island. She is determined to find the killer before Scotland Yard does, though it means awakening sides of herself she had thought long banished, and facing loves from her past she never expected to see again. As Juliet strives to stop a killer while searching for a serum to cure her own worsening illness, she finds herself once more in the midst of a world of scandal and danger. Her heart torn in two, past bubbling to the surface, life threatened by an obsessive killer—Juliet will be lucky to escape alive.
A Cold Legacy summary (via Goodreads): After killing the men who tried to steal her father’s research, Juliet—along with Montgomery, Lucy, Balthazar, and a deathly ill Edward—has escaped to a remote estate on the Scottish moors. Owned by the enigmatic Elizabeth von Stein, the mansion is full of mysteries and unexplained oddities: dead bodies in the basement, secret passages, and fortune-tellers who seem to know Juliet’s secrets. Though it appears to be a safe haven, Juliet fears new dangers may be present within the manor’s own walls. Then Juliet uncovers the truth about the manor’s long history of scientific experimentation—and her own intended role in it—forcing her to determine where the line falls between right and wrong, life and death, magic and science, and promises and secrets. And she must decide if she’ll follow her father’s dark footsteps or her mother’s tragic ones, or whether she’ll make her own.
I am always intrigued when an author attempts a retelling of a classic story or fairy tale because I love seeing how the author not only interprets the original story but what they add and take away from it as well. To me, Megan Shepherd did not disappoint with her Madman’s Daughter Trilogy.
First off, I loved that it was set in Victorian Era London–1) because I love historical fiction, and 2) being that the inspiration for this series were classic novels, it seems only appropriate that story would be told in the same time/setting that either the originals and/or their authors lived.
Secondly, I loved that Juliet wasn’t a clear cut good girl or bad girl. She is both: a good girl who makes bad choices and a bad girl who means well. I liked that Juliet was just trying to figure stuff out for herself. When she realized that her father was kind of a dick and a psycho, she took it into her own hands to make sure his madness didn’t go out into the world.
Thirdly, I liked (and was surprised) that Her Dark Curiosity mentions Juliet having sex. Of course it doesn’t mention the act in those terms but the fact that it’s mentioned at all is impressive. I’m not advocating that teens have sex, but the fact is is that they are (and will continue to do so), and yet I haven’t seen it reflected in any YA books I’ve read, unless in a negative light. Granted, Juliet’s experience isn’t entirely positive, but she doesn’t regret the act itself, which I think is a good thing.
And lastly, A Cold Legacy is one of very few series-endings books (that I’ve read) that is actually consistent with the rest of the series (I’m looking at you Allegiant & Mockingjay). Juliet’s not always sure of herself but she finds her way eventually, without doing anything that is uncharacteristic of her.
I only have one complaint with this series and that is the inevitable YA love triangle. While each love interest (Montgomery & Edward) represent a different path Juliet can take, the story is really about Juliet making her own path; the love interests aren’t really necessary.
Overall, though, I really liked this series and would recommend it to any YA fan.
Goodreads rating: 4 stars (really liked it)
Source: my public library