A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that A Cold Legacy, the last book in the Madman's Daughter trilogy, is part of a horror-heavy sci-fi series. Each book pays homage to classic sci-fi books. Here the characters move into Dr. Frankenstein's old manor a few generations later. Of course the main character, Juliet, is tempted to bring people back from the dead -- making this a great opportunity for mature readers to contemplate medical ethics. A few gory scenes describe sawing off the head of a corpse before sawing it open, pulling out a pus-filled organ, and reattaching a heart. Plenty more people die, including three close to Juliet, through fire, gunshot, and a heart getting ripped out. Other characters are shot, electrocuted, and killed by the plague. Other mature content includes wedding-night sex that isn't described and the drinking of gin and brandy.
What's the story?
After the murders of cruel scientists in London, Juliet needed to disappear in a hurry. The police and some very powerful men who consider themselves above the law will be after her in no time -- especially when they see she's protecting Edward, a creation of her late father, Dr. Moreau, whose diseased brain made him into a notorious serial killer in London. The carriage races away from London with Edward, sick and chained up for everyone's safety; Juliet's fiancé, Montgomery; her friend Lucy; and Balthazar, Juliet's half-animal servant. It's no wonder when they arrive at their friend Elizabeth's isolated manor with a legitimate letter of introduction that the staff is still reluctant to take them in. It's a bad time for introductions anyway: Some villagers just died of the plague, and the staff is hosting the mass funeral in the cellar. And that's not the strangest thing to happen in Juliet's new refuge: Only girls attend school, a boy with one all-white eye roams the secret passageways with a rat on his shoulder, and high up in the locked tower Juliet's friend Elizabeth protects the secrets of her ancestor, one Victor Frankenstein.
Is it any good?
The scope and ambition of the Madman's Daughter trilogy is quite impressive. Author Megan Shepherd had the burden of stringing the heart and soul of three sci-fi classics together using the same main characters. And she had to make those characters meld into each literary world. In A COLD LEGACY, Shepherd introduces the world of Frankenstein's old digs wonderfully. The manor, the flooded moors, all the secret passageways, and the strange people who live there will make the reader dive right into the story.
The problem lies in how the characters from the other two Madman books fit in here. The love story between Juliet and Montgomery already feels played out, making Montgomery add little to the story. Then Juliet sneaks around him to toy with secret experiments (ones she completes so quickly -- heart and brain surgery and a transplant in only a few hours, whoa!) and seems suddenly fanatical again just because she has a crazy-scientist father. She doesn't care what her mentor or her future husband will think at all. Not only is three-hour massive surgery rather unbelievable, so is Juliet's moral recovery.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about medical ethics. If you had the tools, would you want to bring someone back from the dead? Would that person want to come back?
Juliet learns a family secret near the end of the book. How does it change her perspective on who she really is? How much do you think your parents shape whom you'll become?
Have you read Frankenstein? If so, how does A Cold Legacy compare? If not, does this book make you want to read it?
- Author: Megan Shepherd
- Genre: Science Fiction
- Topics: Book Characters, Misfits and Underdogs, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires, Science and Nature
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Balzer + Bray
- Publication date: January 31, 2015
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 13 - 17
- Number of pages: 400
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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