Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Madman's Daughter

The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd (NY: Balzer & Bray, 2013).

At sixteen, Juliet Moreau leads a harsh life, scrubbing floors at the medical school where her father used to teach before the scandal that led him to abandon his family.  Left seemingly orphaned after her mother's death, Juliet can scarcely believe her circumstances, which quickly worsen to the point that she herself must flee--with a former servant and childhood friend, Montgomery, to her father's island refuge on the other side of the world from Victorian London. Little does she know the grisly details of her father's research that will meet her there, or the choices she'll have to make.

Fans of Gothic horror will love this novel, but even readers who don't ordinarily enjoy such gruesome doings can enjoy the way Shepherd explores family secrets and self-revelations. You don't need any knowledge (or even awareness) of the novel's inspiration, H. D. Well's The Island of Dr. Moreau to follow the story of the love triangle Juliet finds herself in or her growing realization of the depth of her father's insane obsession with creating monsters in the name of science. Also, Shepherd saves some great surprises for the very end of this novel, so I can't wait to read the next one!  Recommended for ages 13 & up. Mild sexual situations, horror.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Who Could That Be at this Hour?

Who Could That Be at this Hour? vol. 1 of All the Wrong Questions by Lemony Snicket (NY: Little, Brown, 2012).

Thirteen-year-old Lemony Snicket heads off with his odd new chaperone, S. Theodora Markson, to the small town of Stain'd-by-the-Sea to begin his apprenticeship in the mysterious VFD. They are tasked with restoring a stolen statue of the Bombinating Beast to its rightful owner, but the owner's identity quickly becomes unclear, as does the identity of who has hired them and a myriad of other circumstances.

Inquisitive readers will love this new series by Lemony Snicket which begs many questions and defines many words with the same dark and deadpan humor that made A Series of Unfortunate Events so popular. The villain of the series, Hangfire, appears only as a talented mimic who impersonates the voices of other characters to lead Lemony astray as he pursues clues.  It's a roundabout but entertaining tale of clever kids and daft adults that middle-grade readers will enjoy.  Recommended for ages 8 and up.