A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Her Dark Curiosity, the sequel to The Madman's Daughter, is part of a horror-heavy sci-fi series. Continuing some of Book 1's themes of animal-human experimentation based on the H.G. Wells classic The Island of Doctor Moreau, it adds an homage to the Robert Louis Stevenson novella Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Now a serial killer -- one of Juliet's father's creations -- is rampaging through the city of London. He claws his victims to death; Juliet visits a morgue secretly for a closer look at the damage. The climax is gorier than the first book's, with wild animals ripping apart some humans, gunshots fired, and one man burning alive. So, yes, this is heavy on the horror like the first novel is. Also similar to the first, this has compelling themes of ethics in science. For example, when does scientific discovery cross a line? Characters drink and smoke, with mentions of hard liquor; Juliet, a teen, seems to stick to wine with dinner. The sexual content is more mature than it is in Book 1: Juliet sleeps with one suitor, though it's barely described, and kisses another before falling asleep with him.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
After Juliet is jilted by Montgomery and set adrift in the Pacific, she starts her life afresh in London as the charge of Professor Von Stein, an old colleague of Juliet's father, the very one who supposedly turned Dr. Moreau in for his unethical animal experimentation. But though Juliet is a proper Victorian lady out in society again, she's still a girl with a big secret: The animal organs that saved her life as a baby are failing, and the serum she's taken her whole life now barely keeps the shaking and fainting spells at bay. So she finds a low-rent apartment, buys a chemistry set and fresh animal organs from the market, and starts to work on fixing the serum. She's so caught up in her work that it isn't until she's at the butcher one day that she sees her bloody organs wrapped in an even bloodier newspaper story: A serial killer is on the loose in London. The Wolf of Whitechapel, they call him. Not only does the Wolf claw his victims to death in a way Juliet remembers vividly, she also knows the names of the victims. Each had wronged her in some way. Was Juliet really the only one who escaped the island?
Is it any good?
What a great set-up: Juliet's back in London, but she's not alone; and Edward's not alone in his body -- Mr. Jekyll is what he calls himself in polite society. Ha. Even better, absolutely no one is who he or she seems to be, except probably Juliet's guardian and her friend Lucy.
The first two-thirds of HER DARK CURIOSITY keep the surprises coming. The last third -- well, except for a rousing, gory climax, there's a lot weighing it down. Too much talk about experiments and codes that sound pretty far-fetched; too much of Juliet brooding, feeling guilty about her love life, and hating her darker nature; and too much detail about the secret, sinister organization she's fighting against. And to end it, there's a pretty hasty set-up for the third book, which seems like a big departure from the first two.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the classic novels the Madman's Daughter series references. What did you know about The Island of Doctor Moreau before reading the series? What about Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde?
How does Victorian London react to having a serial killer in its midst? How does the press handle it?
What do you think of the series so far? Will you keep reading?
- Author: Megan Shepherd
- Genre: Science Fiction
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Book Characters, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires, Science and Nature
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Balzer + Bray
- Publication date: January 28, 2014
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 13 - 17
- Number of pages: 432
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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