Genre: YA historical
Secondary genre: scifi
Format read: audiobook
Series: The Madman’s Daughter vol 1
Rep: chronic illness, autism coding
CW: graphic violence, violence against animals, attempted sexual assault
Inspired by The Island of Doctor Moreau, I was drawn to this book from the title alone. I’m always down for a book about mental illness, and this one seemed to have a good chunk of mystery and intrigue to boot.
If you are looking for something light and fun, then please turn around now because that is not what you’re going to find. This book is dark, it’s gritty, and it questions what it means to be human and how bad a person has to be before they aren’t worth saving anymore.
Juliet has been ill her entire life. For the most part, it doesn’t affect her–provided she takes her daily injections. But life is hard in the slums of London, and even harder with no family or friends to lean on.
Left destitute after her father’s exile and her mother’s desk, once genteel Juliette finds herself scrubbing the floors of the lectures halls where her father once taught. But why he fled England is still something of a mystery. While rumors abound, which ones are true?
Then, just as her life in London becomes unsustainable, Juliet runs into a familiar face: Montgomery, her family’s old servant, who vanish at the same time as her father.
Call it flirtation, call it blackmail, call it sheer force of will, Juliet convinces Montgomery to take her with him, back to the remote island where her father now lives.
This heart wrenching novel of family, friendship, betrayal, and redemption is highly problematic to say the least, but largely in a way that questions morality and humanity; it usually calls itself on the questionable content, but be ready to be horrified.
Good for fans of Frankenstein, Mindy McGinnis, and Penny Dreadful.
2 thoughts on “The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd”
I like the title too! I know ‘The Island of Dr. Moreau’ was a classic movie… was it originally a book too? Also, what is ‘Autism coding’ and how does it differ from just good ol’ Autism representation? Great review! 🙂
Hi Sarah! Those are great questions. The Island of Dr. Moreau was a book H.G. Wells, originally published in 1896.
As to your question about autism: I have a whole post about the history of autism on my regular blog: https://knotmagickknitter.wordpress.com/2019/03/15/would-this-kill-me-in-the-1800s-autism/, but basically the word autism didn’t exist until around WWI, and wasn’t connected to the condition we know today until the 1940s. So, for a book set in the 1890s, the author *couldn’t* use the word autism, however Juliet has very clear autistic traits–such as an aversion to touch, sensory issues, an acute memory, difficulty in social situations, among others.
I note autistic coding in a lot of my reviews, because a lot of authors write characters with autistic traits, but choose not to label them for autistic representation out of fear of backlash, or that the book just won’t get published. The theory is that by not outright saying the character is autistic, the book will reach a wider audience. This attitude has thankfully been changing in the last couple of years, especially since Helen Hoang published The Kiss Quotient (Review: https://hauntingthelibrary.home.blog/2019/06/07/the-kiss-quotient-by-helen-hoang/) and The Bride Test (Review: https://hauntingthelibrary.home.blog/2019/07/24/the-bride-test-by-helen-hoang/) but without going too far into the politics and dynamics of publishing, there is still a lot of stigma around autistic characters. It can be hard to find realistic or positive autism rep in fiction, so I try to point it out where I can.
I hope that answers your questions!
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