The Madman’s Daughter – Read-n-Feed

For this week’s Read-n-Feed post I’m featuring a book by another writing friend: Megan Shepherd. I met Megan at the Highlights Writers' Workshop at Chautauqua in July 2009. There were people there from all over the world, so it was fun to run into another Carolina girl (she’s from NC). Then in the fall of 2010, at the regional SCBWI-Carolinas conference, Megan and I were randomly assigned to the same red-eye critique group. Such a small-world moment! It was great to catch up and then follow her writing journey on Facebook.
 
I was thrilled when I learned Megan had sold a trilogy, and even more excited for her as I started reading the advance praise from places like Entertainment Weekly. It was even optioned for a movie almost a year before its release date. So awesome!
 
Megan signing Jocelyn's bookMegan’s book launch was in January, and she had it at her parents’ bookstore in NC. As luck would have it, I was visiting my sister that week, and she lives about an hour away, so we decided it would be fun to attend. And it was fun! They’d created a creepy signing corner to match the creepy vibe of Megan’s novel, and there were drinks and snacks (always a bonus!). It was very inspiring to see Megan on her big day and to get my very own signed copy of The Madman’s Daughter.
 
Then life interfered, and much to my embarrassment, I entered another reading drought. But now that I’ve gotten back on the reading bandwagon, Megan's book was at the top of my towering TBR pile.
 
Category: Young Adult
Genre(s): Gothic Thriller
Publisher: Balzer+Bray/HarperCollins (2013)
Pages: 432
Amazon Description:  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.
 
Inspired by H. G. Wells's classic The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Madman's Daughter is a dark and breathless Gothic thriller about the secrets we'll do anything to know and the truths we'll go to any lengths to protect.
 
Even though I was familiar with the story of The Island of Dr. Moreau, I’d never read the original. After I finished The Madman’s Daughter, I found a detailed summary of TIoDM and was impressed with how Megan pulled things from the original, but manipulated them in a way to make them completely her own. 
 
She also did a masterful job of twisting the clues for the mysteries she created through plot points and characters from the original, so it all ended up weaving together into a beautiful whole. I know that’s really vague for a post that’s supposed to share the writerly things I learned from reading, but to be more specific would risk revealing spoilers. Let’s just say that she’s inspired me to take another look at my WIP (a mystery/thriller) to make sure I’m seeding my clues in the best possible way – subtle, but the reader will still go, “Well, damn!” when they reread sections. Lots of really clever writing by Megan.
 
There was also lots of beautiful writing. Megan takes full advantage of her tropical island setting, making it drip with menace in the same way it drips with humidity. Her descriptions do that double-duty thing that’s so hard to achieve – establish the setting but also create mood and atmosphere.
 
I’m looking forward to reading the next part of Juliet’s journey in Her Dark Curiosity. Check out the gorgeous cover here.
 
Giveaway
While I was at Megan’s launch, I bought an extra book for her to sign, and I’m giving it away this week to celebrate my super fantabulous news (read about it here).
 
Since Dr. Moreau is infamous for his experiments on animals, I’m asking: If you could be spliced with any animal(s), what would it be and why? To enter the giveaway, leave your answer in the comments.
 
I’ve had a lifelong obsession with dolphins, so I’d want to be part dolphin to zoom through the water. But maybe also add in something with huge wings, like the condor, so I could zoom through the air, too.
 
There are also social media related ways to receive extra entries – just fill in the Rafflecopter form, and I'll use it to pick a random winner.
 
The giveaway is now over - congratulations to Wayne D. for winning!
 
I’m willing to ship internationally, so this is open to everyone. The giveaway will be open for a week, and I’ll announce the winner next Friday, August 9th. Good luck!