3.5---Immediate Reaction---I haven't read The Island of Dr. Moreau so I had no idea what to expect going in, but this was surprisingly good - in a dark, twisted way. The last few chapters were a thrill ride. I wouldn't have guessed the plot twists in a million years.I have my reasons for the somewhat low rating (more on that later) but for now, I just wanted to say this: The Madman's Daughter is a very strong debut in the horror genre.---Full Review---An intriguing start and an amazing end, marred by a somewhat listless middle part – that is how I sum up The Madman’s Daughter.The book starts off on a very promising note. We are introduced to Juliet Moreau, an orphan from a once-prestigious London family that fell victim to a horrible scandal. She ekes out a living working as a maid in a med school. I found Juliet a very fascinating character – sensible, resolute, toughened by circumstance, with occasional hints of something inexplicably dark shining through. It was gripping and sinister, exactly how I expect a horror novel to be.And then, it just fizzled out.I have two theories for why that happened.1. The Love Triangle.I’m not a fan of triangles in general, but I don’t mind one if it’s necessary to the plot and done well (like in The Hunger Games). Except the triangle here is neither. Even on the island, where there are such deliciously creepy things to focus on, Shepherd spends a lot of time building Juliet’s love dilemma. And it’s frustrating. One minute, Juliet’s worrying about the strangeness of the island, and then suddenly, she’s wondering how so-and-so’s hands would feel on her skin or how so-and-so’s lips would feel on her pulsing veins. Meh.2. The Blurb.Maybe this doesn’t apply to people who have already read The Island of Dr. Moreau, but I felt the blurb gave away too much information. Like what Dr. Moreau was actually doing/creating on the island. It’s difficult to remain interested when you already know crucial things that the protagonist is yet to figure out. Somewhere around Chapter 30 though, things got good. And I mean, really, really good. The pace shot up drastically, the suspense was excruciating, and the revelations made me shudder. The Madman’s Daughter assumed all the eeriness of a cult horror classic.Megan Shepherd is a fine writer. Her prose captured the sinister atmosphere of the island really well. I noticed something interesting about her use of similes though: Fear spread throughout my body like an infection.My head throbbed as if my skullcap was fitted too tight.Something about it lodged a dull pain in my side, as if a fractured rib now pierced my right lung.A chill tiptoed up my spine, one vertebra at a time.His lips grazed my neck, and my larynx tensed, ready to scream.See what she did there?? Quirky. I like that ;)Overall, The Madman’s Daughter was quite an enjoyable read that could have been better had the focus remained on the horror elements of the story and not the romance.A well-earned 3.5 stars.P.s. Fellow animal-lovers beware. Parts of this book can make you extremely queasy.