Friday, 26 September 2014

Review - Her Dark Curiosity by Megan Shepherd

Her Dark Curiosity (The Madman's Daughter, #2)

Her Dark Curiosity by Megan Shepherd
Series: The Madman’s Daughter #2
Published by Balzer + Bray on January 28 2014
Genres: horror, historical fiction, young adult
Pages: 420
Rating: 3/5 stars
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.
I probably shouldn’t have read this book.

I was drawn in by the near-pristine beauty of it at the library – I don’t often encounter library books that look brand new, and I was tricked by the prettiness. It’s too bad that the actual content of these books isn’t as great as their gorgeous covers.

I had high hopes for Her Dark Curiosity, though I’m not entirely sure why. I didn’t particularly enjoy The Madman’s Daughter, for a variety of reasons.  Namely, Juliet’s idiocy and the completely unnecessary love triangle. But I thought, maybe book two will be better. Maybe Juliet will start to use her brain and stop whining all the time and kick those stupid miserable boys to the curb. Also, I was under the (incorrect) assumption that 1/3 of said love triangle was dead, because I’m an idiot who indulges in wishful thinking.

But oh no. None of my hopes were answered by this book. I was delighted to find that this book was supposed to be loosely based on/inspired by The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I’m a big fan. Unfortunately, they really meant loosely. There are a few elements of Jekyll and Hyde present, but it’s minimal. The reintroduction of the love interest who isn’t Montgomery (I want to say his name is William or Edward, because everyone in Victorian London was called William or Edward) wasn’t much of a shocker, and I honestly don’t think it even merits a spoiler tag. Let me know if you disagree, but it was pretty obvious, though I tried to convince myself otherwise in case sheer willpower prevented it from happening. Sigh. The love triangle really gets amped up in this book. Compared to Her Dark Curiosity, it is merely a slight annoyance in The Madman’s Daughter. There is just so much drama between Juliet and Montgomery and William-Edward and I don’t understand it at all because they’re both absolute dickheads! I’ll pass, thank you.

The ‘plot’ of Her Dark Curiosity is surprisingly sparse. I honestly don’t remember much of the plot that didn’t revolve around a) the love triangle, b) Juliet’s angst over her condition/finding a remedy, or c) further angst over William-Edward’s escalating murderous split personality disorder. I think the main problem I have with sympathizing with these plights is that I just completely disagree with everything that Juliet stands for. If I were in her shoes, William-Edward would be properly dead by now (and I would have zero desire to bring him back to life Frankenstein-style, thank you very much!). Oh! I remembered one other plot-y thing – Juliet discovers that she’s caught up in a big ol’ conspiracy and then (SPOILER) kills a bunch of people using electricity and lab creatures. She also scars her best (well, only) friend for life in the process, but who needs friends when you have Montgomery and William-Edward, right??

Given the nature of this review, it might be surprising that I gave this book three stars. I actually did enjoy certain parts of the book. I’m a big fan of Shepherd’s writing style. It is very descriptive without turning purple, and I think she really succeeds in creating a neo-Gothic novel, in style if not in form. I also really love Juliet’s dark side. She doesn’t let it out as often as I’d like, but I think that the fact that she has a serious violent streak is wonderful. I think that she could be a truly remarkable character if she just toned down the altruism a little bit. She reminds me a bit of Allie from Julie Kagawa’s Blood of Eden trilogy in that sense. She has the potential to be a total badass, but she is just too nice.

Considering how much grief this series has caused me, you’d think I’d back out and abstain from the likely torment of A Cold Legacy, but you would be wrong. I’ve already invested enough time in this series that I might as well see it through, right? Besides, maybe Frankenstein William-Edward will be less angsty than the current version. On a side note: how many times can this dude be killed off? WHY DON’T YOU JUST TAKE THE HINT AND STAY DEAD? NOBODY LIKES YOU. I am interested to see the setting shift once again, this time from urban London to the Scottish countryside. I think that setting is definitely one of Shepherd’s strong suits.

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