Review: Her Dark Curiosity by Megan Shepherd

Her Dark Curiosity by Megan Shepherd.

The Madman's Daughter #2.
Published: January 28, 2014.
Published by: Balzer + Bray.
Source: Requested an ARC from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. Thank you, HarperCollins Canada!

Goodreads Synopsis:
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 Review:

Her Dark Curiosity, sequel to The Madman's Daughter, is a novel I found interesting both as a follow up and as an "inspired by" piece on its own. While I wasn't completely won over and do think that this novel was a little less impressive than its predecessor, I still enjoyed it for the most part. Fair warning, there will be *minor* spoilers in the review, though I'd say what I'm revealing is fairly obvious and nothing from too late in the book. 

To begin with the plot, I'll say that much of it worked for me, but when it didn't, it REALLY didn't. Most of that came with Juliet and her terrible choices, but more on that later. In regards to the Jekyll and Hyde inspiration, while I knew coming in who it would be about, I did rather enjoy the way it played out. It was fairly predictable for a while, but a combination of bad decisions by Juliet and interesting decisions by Shepherd helped keep it from being dull. There is definitely an element of "not all is as it first appears," which pulls the plot out of totally predictable territory. 

One thing I really enjoyed about Her Dark Curiosity is the evocative imagery. I actually think Shepherd improved upon this from the last novel. In that one, I found it often hard to picture the creatures and whatnot but I think giving this one a setting and characters more grounded in reality helped with the imagery. The fact that there were more strictly human characters helped as well. I found it very easy to picture the many sides of London that Shepherd describes and I very much enjoyed my imaginary tour of the city throughout the novel. 

I think the thing that bothered me most about the novel was Juliet herself. She makes some absolutely terrible decisions and does things that I think are incredibly stupid. I spent much of the story in a state of sheer frustration because of her decisions as well as her inability to stick to the (bad) decisions she does make. After finishing the book and distancing myself from my exasperation with her, I can say that, to Shepherd's credit, Juliet was quite consistently in character. Despite often hating her choices, I do think they fit well with the character of Juliet that we know. Her flip-flopping as well rang true to character because Juliet has a kind of internal battle going on between her "normal" side and the madness she feels she inherited from her father, which she both despises and is intrigued by. So despite my dislike for where her character is taken in this sequel, I will say that at least it didn't feel untrue to the Juliet from the first novel.

I feel that I should bring up the love triangle as well because it does shift and develop in some ways but it also feels like it remains utterly stagnant in another. At the end of The Madman's Daughter, Montgomery has essentially rejected Juliet by staying on the island while sending her off and she is broken hearted. A lot of this novel is her trying to recover from this betrayal as well as dealing with her feelings about Edward, which, spoiler, reemerge as he does. While I like that I can see the draw for Juliet to both options, I also don't think either is really a true fit for her, so I hope to see a resolution in the final book that either reflects that or shows me why one truly does understand her as she is. There is also, in this novel, the addition of and extra element to the triangle (a square, now?), which complicates things a bit, plus an action at the end that leaves a couple possibilities for book 3. I'm actually very interested in these additions because they keep the triangle from feeling like a simple repetition of what happened in the first book. 

With a few different mysteries and possibilities for the final installment, that is definitely a novel that I'll be checking out. While parts of Her Dark Curiosity left me a little disappointed (and more than a little frustrated on occasion), I found that between the strong setting, the inclusion of a beloved character (which I can't talk about because spoiler), and a couple twists to an otherwise average love triangle, there's enough to have kept my attention and kept me intrigued. 


  1. I love that this novel is a retelling of a classic. We don't see many of those, and the gothic London setting and evocative imagery is definitely compelling, but I am sure that this heroine would drive me insane. Even when a heroine's behavior is consistent, I can't stand a frustrating protagonist. And I don't do love triangles, and this one sounds like it's worse than most. But I'm glad you found more to like about this one than to dislike.

    1. I think the retelling/inspired by aspect works quite well for these novels, especially given that the source material isn't being widely used in YA. Gives it a very unique spin. I do think that Juliet's behaviour in this one turned a lot of people off, unfortunately, so I can see what you mean. And given your stance on love triangles, I'd say this series might not be for you. It can definitely feel like one of THOSE at times, you know?


I'd love to hear what you think!