Book Review — “A Cold Legacy”

 

“A Cold Legacy” is the third novel in the series “The Madman’s Daughter” by Megan Shepherd. The book has fourteen editions, was published in 2015 by HarperCollinsPublishers, and is a young adult and science fiction novel of 390 pages.

In London, Juliet and her best friend Lucy found out that their fathers had been corresponding for years, even after Juliet’s father, Dr. Moreau, had escaped to an island to continue his dark experiments. At the island, Moreau had been conducting gruesome experiments — creating human-like creatures through the process of vivisection (dissection on live creatures without the use of anesthesia). He connected organs from various animals, kept them together by inserting tissue, and had created a serum in order for the body not to reject the foreign organs. In the first novel of the series, called “The Madman’s Daughter”, the author revealed that Juliet was his first experiment. When she was little, the doctors said that Juliet was going to die due to a spinal cord deformation. Her mother had desperately asked Moreau to do anything to keep their daughter alive, and he did what any logical surgeon would do… he transplanted deer parts in place of Juliet’s problematic organs.

After killing all the men who tried to steal Juliet’s father’s lifelong research on vivisection, except Lucy’s father, Mr. Radcliffe, Juliet, along with Montgomery, Lucy, and deadly-ill Edward, now wanted by London’s authorities, escape to a remote mansion in Scotland, owned by Elizabeth Von Stein, Professor Von Stein’s niece. The idea is that, since the estate is registered under Elizabeth’s name, the police would not be able to find Juliet and her “accomplices”.

Now in Scotland, Juliet has even more things to worry about in this sketchy mansion – dead bodies, hidden paths, hostile servants, and many more. In that mansion, Juliet learns about reanimation – the process of bringing someone back to life using electricity. One of Elizabeth’s ancestors, Victor Frankenstein, had discovered how reanimate a living organism using lightning, a technique he had originally used on Hensley, Professor Von Stein’s son. This miraculous procedure, however, has its downsides. Hensley is a monster. He is a 40-year-old man in a little boy’s mind and body; a body strong enough to tear trees from the ground, and do who-knows-what when things don’t go his way. However, when Lucy, who is deeply in love with now-dead Edward, learns about this procedure, she begs Juliet to revive him. Juliet, knowing that by doing this she could be creating a monster even worse than the Beast, refuses to do so. Now, amidst the darkness and confusion of who she is and who she wants to be, she is split between two paths — her mother Evelyn’s, the path of a kind-hearted and loving person, or Henry Moreau’s, the path of a mad, dark-hearted and reckless scientist. Will Edward ever be alive again? Will Juliet Moreau follow her mother’s or her father’s footsteps, or will she create her own?

“What darkness began, only madness can end.”

Full of spine-tingling thrills, this is the most fast-pace, descriptive, fascinating, intriguing, beautifully dark novel. So many unexpected events take place in this book, though I will not talk about them so as to not ruin the unpredictability of it. I loved everything about this book–Juliet’s intelligence, bravery and courage, the suspenseful, ominous, creepy vibe of the story, the thought-provoking ideas, the new setting, Juliet’s internal conflict, the addition of new, enigmatic characters, the character development of Juliet and Lucy. I also love how the author explores the fine line between curiosity and madness, the dark side of science and morality, and how Juliet must decide on which side of the line she wants to stand.

In my opinion, this book is the best of all three in the series. I would highly recommend reading this book and the two previous ones if you enjoy twisted stories and/or mystery and science fiction novels. This book was not as graphic as the previous two. The only major procedure is a very intense scene of reanimation and a brain surgery. However, if that still sounds like something that would make you uneasy, I would not recommend reading this book, especially at night. +12. 5/5.

 

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Part 1: Summary – “A Cold Legacy”

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“A Cold Legacy” is the third novel of “The Madman’s Daugher” series, by Megan Shepherd. Published by HarperCollinsPublishers, it is a young adult science fiction novel.

The events in this novel take place during the Victorian Era, in Scotland, once Juliet and her cohorts have left London due to the murder they committed.

Juliet and her best friend Lucy found out that their fathers had been corresponding for years, even after Juliet’s father, Dr. Moreau, escaped London after a scandal. He was thought to be dead at this point; instead, however, he was on an island, conducting revolutionary experiments by creating human-like creatures through the process of vivisection (dissection on live creatures, without the use of anesthesia). He was connecting organs from various animals and was preventing rejection by inserting tissue in the form of a serum. In the first novel of the series, called “The Madman’s Daughter”, the author reveals that Juliet was actually his first experiment. When she was little, doctors said that she was going to die due to a spinal cord deformation. Her mother had desperately asked him to do anything to keep her alive. For that reason, he implanted deer parts to replace her problematic ones. Therefore, she, too, has to take the serum in order to survive.

After people learned about Moreau’s experiments, the family’s fortune had been taken away, leaving them penniless. With her mother dead and believing her father was also, Juliet was left on the streets; Dr. Moreau, however, was living on an island where all residents were products of his experiments, except from his assistant, Montgomery.  All that time, Dr. Moreau and Mr. Radcliffe, Lucy’s father, an investor, were sending letters to each other regarding the experiments. Radcliffe would send large amounts of money for scientific equipment, and Moreau would conduct the experiments.

Moreau had come up with a new idea to perfect his creatures—to use human blood in order to turn an animal into a human. The only outcome of that procedure was Edward. When Montgomery was ill, Moreau drew blood from him for “blood tests”. Instead, he used that blood on Edward. However, due to Montgomery’s illness, the blood which he injected Edward with was infected with malaria. That, in addition to the rabies-infected jackal organs that he had used to create Edward, caused an anomaly in the posterior lobe of the brain. That created another personality within Edward—two creatures in one body. Edward himself was a nice, kind person. However, the “Beast”, or what the characters refer to as his second half, is far from nice. When Edward turns into the Beast, he changes entirely—both mentally and physically. In a matter of seconds, he gets taller and bigger, grows six-inch-long claws, a cruel personality, a deep voice, and frightening yellow eyes. Though Juliet hates the Beast, she can’t help admiring him at the same time. She is jealous of his freedom, and even though she doesn’t want to admit it, she knows that both of them have a lot in common.

After her father really dies, three men—Dr. Hastings, Scotland Yard Inspector John Newcastle, and Mr. Radcliffe—try to steal his research. Since the Beast is so powerful, they want to use Moreau’s notes to create an army of similar creatures and ship them to France. Juliet and Montgomery know that this is a terrible idea. If just one of the creatures was able to create such havoc, they can’t even begin to imagine what a whole army of them could and would do.

“What darkness began, only madness can end.”

 

Part 2: Review — “Her Dark Curiosity”

book cover for Her Dark Curiosity, featuring a girl in a long black dress overlooking the city of London

I honestly could not wait to read this sequel, since the previous book, “The Madman’s Daughter”, had fascinated me. Like the first book, this one left me in anticipation for the third book, with all of the plot twists and cliffhangers. I really liked the combination of mystery, science, and the Victorian Era. Juliet, as the daughter of a genius madman who was conducting controversial and inhuman experiments, is a very skilled person who seems to be following her father’s footsteps. The themes of science and humanity make this novel an extraordinary one. The Wolf of Whitechapel was a very nice addition to the novel, and something that I would have not expected to read. The escalating mystery of the violent serial killer and Juliet’s growing illness make you want to finish this book as soon as possible. In “The Madman’s Daughter” series, you can never predict the ending.

However, like I said in my other review of “The Madman’s Daughter”, I did not like the love triangle that seems to be a major theme in this story. It turns the reader away from the focus of the story and takes the action away from the series. In my opinion, Juliet should have settled for either Edward or Montgomery instead of doubting which one to choose.

If you enjoy romance novels, I would recommend this book. If you enjoy science fiction or mystery novels, I would recommend this book, too. Even though this is science fiction, thus impossible in real life, some of the procedures are so well-explained they seem to make sense. However, if you are very sensitive to graphic scenes of surgery and murder, I would not recommend this novel.

Though it is a young adult novel, some parts of the series do not comply with this. In addition, the plot might be a little complicated to understand for younger audiences. Therefore, I would rate this book 4.5/5. +14.

 

 

Part 1: Summary — “Her Dark Curiosity”

book cover for Her Dark Curiosity, featuring a girl in a long black dress overlooking the city of London

“Her Dark Curiosity” is a young adult and science fiction novel by Megan Shepherd. Published by HarperCollinsPublishers, it is the second novel in “The Madman’s Daughter” series and is filled with breathtaking content that will keep you at the edge of your seat.

In the beginning of the book, Juliet Moreau has returned to her hometown, London, after running away from her father’s island. Montgomery had put her in a small boat by herself to send her away and save her from the burning island. Fast-forward a few months later and Juliet finds herself heartbroken and unsure about whether or not Montgomery — or anyone living on the island — survived.

Now alone, Juliet occupies a small attic as her workspace. Her disease is getting even worse, causing her symptoms like shaking hands, dizziness, shifting joints, and many more. Being the skilled daughter of London’s most gifted surgeon, she desperately tries to find a serum that will help her with her disease. She is running out of time, however, with the symptoms getting worse and worse with each passing day.

Finding a cure for her illness is not her only problem. After slicing Dr. Hastings’s wrist for attempting to abuse her, and being put in prison for it, Juliet is always afraid and paranoid. That changes when one of her father’s former colleagues, referred to as Professor Victor von Stein, one of the people who had turned her father in after the scandal, gets her out of prison. Guilty for having left Juliet and her now-dead mother, Evelyn, in the streets, the Professor takes her whole-heartedly into his home.

At this point, Juliet’s life is starting to look more promising. Her best friend, Lucy, might marry Scotland Yard inspector, John Newcastle. She doesn’t really like him, because she likes another mysterious gentleman, but Juliet thinks she will be in good hands for now. Everything seems to be going great. Well, almost great. That is, because of her progressing illness, and something else…

It all started when she went to the meat section of a store. She had become familiar with the butcher after buying animal organs in an attempt to recreate her father’s serum. The butcher tells her that a killer, nicknamed as the “Wolf of Whitechapel”, is roaming the streets of London, killing his victims in a violent way, tearing them apart “like an animal”. When she hears about this, Juliet has a sinking feeling. “That’s how Edward had killed his victims”.

She didn’t think much of it, at first. London is a big city, where many murders happen. Her views toward the recent murders change once she learns the victims’ names. First, Annie Brenton — a “friend” who had stolen a ring, the only thing Juliet had after her mother’s death. Then, Daniel Penderwick — the person who had taken the fortune of Juliet’s family after the scandal. Juliet found the third victim herself, after following traces of blood in the snow. It was the girl-thief who had tried to steal Juliet’s silver buttons not more than half an hour earlier. What was most remarkable, however, was that she found a flower dipped in a pool of blood. She later learns that this type of flower doesn’t grow in London.  This means that someone must have brought it from a tropical place. “Flowers dipped in blood. That is his mark.”

Juliet can’t help but notice a pattern- all the victims had wronged her in the past. That is what she thinks, until the Wolf of Whitechapel kills the Professor. Juliet is, once again, heartbroken; all the Professor had ever done was help her. The real question is what will Juliet do now? Is Edward the Wolf of Whitechapel? Will she find Montgomery? Will she find a cure for her illness, and will her life ever be normal?

Part 2: Review – “The Madman’s Daugther”

I have mixed feelings about this book. Personally, I found the story incredibly unique and interesting. The plot and vivid descriptions of “The Madman’s Daughter” definitely deserve a 5/5 rating. This novel has the perfect combination of the Victorian Era, along with crazy and complex science. While some people may find it hard to read through the procedures (which occupy a decent portion of this book), I thought they were fascinating without being disturbing. However, there was too much romance and drama, which took away from the story. The fact that Juliet was attracted to both Edward and Montgomery at the same time was cliché and boring. Still, there are unexpected turns that make it almost impossible to know anything before it is mentioned. It is also worth mentioning that, depite some cliché themes, the ending was so different than what I expected, which is always a great quality in a book.

I would recommend this book if you like romantic novels, science fiction, or just science in general. The focus on the scientific and medical field  is what makes this book amazingly fascinating. However, there are some graphic scenes during the surgeries, so if you do not feel comfortable with that, this book is not for you. I must also mention that the plot may be difficult to understand, mainly due to its complexity. I look forward to reading the other two books of “The Madman’s Daughter” series. 4.8/5. +12.

 

Part 1: Summary – “The Madman’s Daughter”

cover of the book The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd

Review by evant794

“The Madman’s Daughter” is a novel written by Megan Shepherd, and is the first out of the three books in her “The Madman’s Daughter” series. Published by HarperCollinsPublishers, “The Madman’s Daughter” is a science fiction novel.

The setting takes place during the 1800s in London, England.  Juliet Moreau is the main character of the novel. Her father, Dr. Moreau, used to be London’s best and most widely recognized surgeon, making him a very wealthy individual– but that was before the scandal happened.

Fast-forward, six years later, and Juliet Moreau went from being a happy, young, rich girl with loving parents and many servants, to being a poor sixteen-year-old orphan who makes a living as a maid at King’s College. The only person who seems to care about her is Lucy. Juliet and Lucy have been friends for a long time, back when Lucy’s parents thought that Juliet was a good influence to their daughter, but that changed. However, even though Lucy’s parents do not approve, they are still friends.

One evening, right after her shift, Juliet meets Lucy, who had been waiting for her in the cold. After socializing with some drunk male college students, all of them, including Juliet, decide to go inside the college to explore, only to find a group of students performing vivisection (dissection performed on a still living organism) on a rabbit. Juliet, wanting to end the poor creature’s misery, cuts its head off. When she sees the chart according to which the college students are performing surgery, she sees her “dead” father’s signature – which is what makes her want to search for him.

She desperately searches at a hotel in hopes of finding him. To her surprise, she finds Montgomery, her old friend and servant, who is about to leave London in two days, only to go back to her father with a ship full of supplies for his crazy experiments. After cutting the tendons in Dr. Hastings’s wrist, who calls the police, Juliet convinces Montgomery to take her with him.

Their trip is a long journey with a boat, accompanied by wild, loud animals in cages, Balthazar, who has an awfully deformed face and body, a very aggressive captain, many storms, and an almost-dead castaway, Edward Prince. Juliet is thrilled to reach her father’s island. From the moment she sets foot of that island, though, it feels like something is wrong – terribly wrong. Then her father “jokingly” throws Edward into the water and lets him drown, until Montgomery decides to finally save him.

While Juliet lives there, she sneaks into her father’s laboratory at night, since she cannot hold her curiosity in after long hours of hearing the terrible, horrific screams of desperate animals. To her surprise, she finally finds out about “the scandal” that has ruined her life. Her father, being an amazingly skilled surgeon, performs vivisection on animals to transform them into humans. This requires numerous complex surgeries on the animals’ spines, and replacing their organs with a variety of animal organs. The result? Monstrous beings, also known as the islanders. The worst part is that he does not anesthetize them, therefore making them suffer an enormous amount of pain. She also gets suspicious when she learns that these islanders take the same treatment as her and starts questioning her existence. Though Montgomery keeps telling her that she is thinking irrationally, since her treatment is for her pancreatic disease, while theirs is to keep their bodies from rejecting organs, Juliet is convinced that there is something wrong with her.

Juliet knows the she will not be able to live a life like this; knowing that her father is the madman everyone was talking about. Also, the creature that is free, slaughtering the islanders, is not making the situation any better.  She must escape – fast. Even though the plan was to escape with Edward, Montgomery, and Alice, the plans change – and they change a lot.

“In the darkest of places, even love is deadly”.

 

“Perfect Escape”

Cover of book Perfect Escape by Jennifer Brown

“Perfect Escape” is a  young adult novel written by Jennifer Brown. Published by Little, Brown & Company, “Perfect Escape” is a book of 368 pages. Though it has no extraordinary suspense, the plot and interesting words the author uses, as well as the imagery, this book will have you keep reading until you discover the secret the protagonist has been hiding since the beginning.

The entire novel is written from the protagonist’s point of view, named Kendra. Kendra’s brother, Grayson, or “Genius Boy” as Kendra calls him, is suffering from severe OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). OCD is defined as “a mental illness in which people have unwanted and repeated thoughts, feelings, ideas, sensations (obsessions), and behaviors that drive them to do something over and over (compulsions). Often the person carries out the behaviors to get rid of the obsessive thoughts”. Kendra, as the “normal” child in the family, has always found herself having to be perfect in order to be a replacement for Grayson.

Kendra’s world seems to turn upside-down when her best friend since birth moves from her old house, because her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Monett, didn’t want their daughter in a relationship with a mentally-ill person. Now, one of her best friends, Zoe, is gone, and her other best friend and brother, Grayson, is depressed. She feels lonely, especially when her brother went from sharing all his secrets with Kendra, to closing himself in a “bubble” which he refuses to come out of. Will Kendra ever be herself? Will she move on, or will she wait for everything to go back to normal?

Kendra has now found a replacement for the blank space in her heart, by having Lia and Shani as her friends. Her life is starting to get easy again for the first time in years. No more staying up at night, listening to her brother’s screams as her parents rush him into the hospital. No more searching for him in the middle of the night with her parents and neighbors. No more searching for him in the quarry, his only company being the thousands and thousands of rocks and a ruler. No more drama. With her brother away for treatment, her friends by her side, herself being an example of success at school, and being ready to graduate high school, her life seems to be okay – almost normal. Almost. That is until her brother returns from treatment. It is until she makes a mistake – a big one; a mistake that will cost her going to college. The mistake that will keep her from building her future. She now finds herself in a dead end. Add the fact that Zoe has been ignoring her e-mails, and there you have the perfect recipe for escape. Will she stay to face the consequences? Will she stay to see the disappointment in her parents’ faces? Or will she run away? Will we ever know what Kendra’s big mistake was?

“We all know what Grayson’s difficulties were. Grayson’s difficulties dominated his life. And Mom’s and Dad’s. And mine. Sometimes it felt like especially mine.”

For the most part, I really enjoyed reading this book. From the plot twist, to the interesting information about OCD, this book was almost perfect. I did not like the fact that Kendra is so jealous of Grayson throughout the whole book, and that she uses him as an excuse in her everyday life. No matter what she does, whether that is failing a test or being late to class, her excuse will always be her mentally-ill brother. She does not show much empathy for Grayson, and does not even try to understand him. However, after all that happened to her, she finally got to understand him and love him for whom he is. I recommend this book, mainly because of the interesting information on OCD and how it can affect people’s lives, as well as the interesting plot twist. However, I would not recommend it if you – or a loved one – are suffering from OCD, since I think that this novel might be triggering in that case. 4/5. +12.