The Whimsical Mama

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*ARC Review* Her Dark Curiosity by Megan Shepherd January 26, 2014

***I was granted permission to read Her Dark Curiosity by the publisher (Harper Teen, Balzer + Bray) in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to Harper Teen and Balzer + Bray! Spoilers may be revealed in the review.***

Rating: 5 stars
Pub date:28 January 2014
Publisher: Harper Teen, Balzer + Bray
Genre:Young Adult Fiction
Format:eARC via publisher
Status:Book two of The Madman’s Daughter trilogy


To defeat the darkness, she must first embrace it.

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.

With inspiration from Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, this is a tantalizing mystery about the hidden natures of those we love and how far we’ll go to save them from themselves.

My thoughts:

Her Dark Curiosity picks up shortly after The Madman’s Daughter ends. Years ago, back when I was a wee high school freshman, we read The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. I was very excited to see where Megan was going to take this retelling.

Victorian London once again comes vividly to life when Juliet returns and tries to rebuild her life. She’s taken in by the professor who turned her father in to the police for his experimentation. He never intended for Juliet and her mother to suffer as they did and wants to help Juliet in any way he can to make up for what happened. However, time is running out for the recently returned to high society Juliet. The serum her father created is starting to fail. As each day passes, her illness continues to worsen while she secretly works to create a cure. On top of the race to find a cure for herself, there is a serial killer on the loose.

All around town, people are being murdered and the murderer is leaving a calling card – a flower. The murder aspects, I felt, as well as being the distinct differences alluded between Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, gave off a Jack the Ripper vibe. I’m not sure if Megan intended that or if it was just me. Either way, the macabre nature of the murders was very well done.

Juliet learns that she is connected to the victims and becomes increasingly concerned. A certain detail on the victims’ bodies brings back things from the island Juliet had hoped were gone forever. Combining the mutilation of the victims’ bodies and consumed with guilt for events that transpired on the island, Juliet is uncertain what is happening and why she is involved.

Juliet, again, is an incredible heroine who shows true strength and determination in order to help herself and others. Despite being extremely clever, she can also be too trusting and quick to jump to action. This almost gets her into all sorts of terrible trouble more than once. On that note, Juliet’s ability to cling to hope even when things are incredibly bleak is very inspiring. She rises to each challenge and refuses to give up.

Megan does a fantastic job of weaving new and old characters together in this incredible sequel. I was VERY excited to see a certain character return. *swoon* I won’t say which character, cause it’s something that concerns Juliet for a while and that she thinks of often. Megan also does a great job at making you continuously guess at who the villain is. Every time a clue pops up and you’re convinced you know who it is, Megan throws in another twist.

Her Dark Curiosity does NOT suffer from the dreaded sophomore slump. As dark and mysterious as The Madman’s Daughter was, Megan manages to take Her Dark Curiosity on to a whole new level with each twist and turn. Even though it should’ve been glaringly obvious, I completely failed to pick up on the clues for the key book for the trilogy ender. I had a suspicion, but I brushed it off. Sadly, if I had kept with it, I would’ve been right! I am so excited about it though. Part of me wants an ARC and for it to be out now and part of me wants a single release and for it to be savored.

Her Dark Curiosity was absolutely spectacular and I think it will be one of 2014’s best. This gothic thriller is definitely one you don’t want to miss! Darkness, mystery, intrigue, romance, excitement, the works are packed in on every single page. Many thanks to Megan for writing this great book and to HarperCollins and Balzer+Bray for granting me permission to read the ARC.I highly recommend this series and hope you check it out!


*Review* The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd September 30, 2013

Rating:  5 stars
Pub date: 29 January 2013
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Historical Fiction
Format: hardback, personal copy, signed


In the darkest places, even love is deadly.

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.

Wow. Just wow. I don’t even know where to begin this review. I came across this book on the suggestion of Mary. (Mary Had a Little Book Blog) She reviewed this title earlier this year and also recommended it to me. I am so glad she did!

I haven’t read The Island of Dr. Moreau, so I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect from this gothic thriller. Let me just say, from the get go I was HOOKED. I started reading in the car on the way to our family beach getaway last week. I wanted to wait til as close as I could to the signing event so it was still fresh in my mind. Now, I’m dying with impatience waiting for Her Dark Curiosity! I also want to dive into The Island of Dr. Moreau to see the inspiration behind the insanity!

We are introduced to our leading lady, Juliet Moreau right away and the book is from her point of view. She is a fallen from the top of society young lady living and working in Victorian (I’m assuming) London, England. I was sold already. I love England, and I love historical fiction. A forbidden friendship made it even more intriguing. She’s surrounded by a scandal. It’s not quite clear what scandal surrounds her which has driven her from the heights of society, but we immediately know it’s as bad as bad can get.

After a series of a turn of events from flirtatious med school students and an attempted sexual assault, Juliet learns her disgraced and assumed dead father is really alive and living on an island off of Australia. She flees with her former servant to reunite with her father. Montgomery pleads with her not to come, but she is relentless in her desire to find out if the rumours surrounding her father are true.

After an interesting sea voyage involving discovering a castaway, Juliet and company arrive at the island. She quickly learns not only are the rumours true, things are worse than she thought. The question arises what does humanity really mean? Do we have humanity because we were born human? Or is it possible for a creature to be created and mutated to have humanity? Are all humans filled with humanity and are all created science experiments truly monsters? Some of the creations show more humanity and compassion than some of the truly human characters.

A giant plot twist and gotacha moment at the end brings it to an incredible cliff hanger. Can I just say the gotcha moment was in the back of my mind as a possibility and when it became obvious I was BLOWN that I was right. And I called how the cliff hanger ending would go. I so can’t wait to see how Her Dark Curiosity will be!

From the beginning, I felt a great connection with Juliet. Despite the usual stereotype of her age, (women and girls are delicate and pretty incapable of being intellectual) Juliet is incredibly intelligent and resilient. Her resiliency is really tested when she finds her father. Even though she had believed she was an orphan, she desperately wanted things to work out in her relationship with her father. He’d abandoned her, but she hoped he had a good reason. She struggles with his work and knowing it isn’t right. She uses her intelligence and resilience to try to get off the island with Montgomery and Edward and when events don’t go as planned, she rolls with the punches and adapts.

Montgomery is definitely a fallen angel to me. He still has an innocence despite everything he has done. He knows he’s done evil, but also shows a great wish to redeem himself. His choices at the end of The Madman’s Daughter show what he thinks will be his redemption. I’m looking forward to see how this redemption goes in the sequel.

Edward is confusing in a way. Nothing ever makes sense about him and he always seems a bit dark even when he doesn’t seem like it. Confusing, right? Despite his obvious affections toward Juliet, and urging from her father, I never wanted to see things work out for them. They just didn’t seem to completely fit together. I’m completely Team Montgomery for relationships!

Dr, Moreau is just an a-hole. Completely self absorbed and oblivious to his faults. His genius is what cripples him. In discovering this mysterious island and continuing his research, he essentially loses his humanity in trying to create the perfect specimen of humanity. He thinks himself like a god. He comes up with his own commandments that he teaches to his creations. It’s truly appalling.

Balthazar. Oh, I love his innocence. I wish he had appeared more and hope he makes at least a small appearance in the sequel.

This was a fantastic novel and was also Megan’s debut. I can’t wait to get my hands on Her Dark Curiosity!

***Signing event***

Megan was with two other authors at the JC Public Library on the 28th. I didn’t stay long, we had just driven 6 hours back from the beach and the kiddos were exhausted and tired of being in their carseats. Punk wanted to go inside with me and he was greatly entertaining to everyone while I stood and talked with Megan and Chris for a few minutes. He decided to dance and chatter for everyone. Megan asked him if he had fun at the beach and he said “YES!” then proceeded to chatter. I’m guessing he was telling her all about it. I did catch swim and papaw while he was going on and on. I got to see Her Dark Curiosity. I was going to ask to hold it and skim through it, but I was too nervous that once I had it in my hands I’d never be able to let it go until I devoured it. Still crossing my fingers for an ARC of my own!

I’m hoping to go to an event next month that she’ll be at in NC. It’s about publication and writing. I think it might just be what I need to take the plunge on writing. (:

It was such a great honour to get to meet her! She’s super awesome and nice. It was neat to meet her after tweeting back and forth for a while.

I apologise that my first event recap is so short! I did get a few extra bookmarks signed. If there’s any interest I’ll do a giveaway for them. Or I may just wait and see if I can go to the event next month and get a copy of The Madman’s Daughter signed and give both away then. Make sure you leave your thoughts on the giveaway! (: Just bookmarks now or wait and get bookmarks and book later?

Recommended for: Sci-fi and historical fiction lovers

Not recommended for: Those who have a weak stomach where guts and blood are concerned or dislike sci-fi or historical fiction


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