I’m still torn on this novel. It’s been almost a week since I finished it. The response was delayed due to not knowing how to respond to the novel, but also my having to fly down to NC for family matters. On the plus side I got to visit Highland Books again, which the author’s parents own and run. If you check out the website, you can see her signing books in the shop.
I found it frustrating and satisfying. Most of this had nothing to do with the novel itself, but with the time between this novel and Her Dark Curiosity. I loved it and The Madman’s Daughter when I first read them, but I couldn’t remember enough of the details to truly enjoy this novel. Maybe this just means I’m getting old, but I’ve avoided starting any new series until it is either completely finished or it’s a long enough series I can re-read.
The story picks up right where it ended and plods on. As little action as there is in the first half of the novel, the writing matched the pace of a frantic race away from the past, but then it felt like it hit a brick wall. At one point I felt like the author had so many ideas she wanted to incorporate that she was overwhelmed. Even though everything was connected and flowed decently, it just felt forced. I’m not sure if this was the struggle of combining three stories (The Island of Doctor Moreau, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Frankenstein) or if this was the struggle of ending a series, which I can’t imagine is easy.
What I’m wondering is if I struggled with this story more than the other two because I haven’t read Frankenstein. It’s on my classics list, but everything I know about the story is what has seeped into the collective pop-culture consciousness and as I learned with Dracula not that much is actually in the original story.
One of the things that I’ve loved across this trilogy is the bad-assery of the female characters. From the protagonist Juliet to Elizabeth von Stein and even Lucy finding her own stride made the novel even better than the past. There were a lot of moments where I thought the man would swoop in to save the day, and it did happen now and then, but the women were just as often saving the day or redefining what is possible.
Recommendation: All three novels are worth the read, I almost wish there was a fourth novel wrapping everything up in a different way, outside the constraints of classic horror novels, but I did thoroughly enjoy this one. I’ll definitely keep an eye out for Shepherd’s other works as I think she has a lot of potential and I can’t wait to see where she goes.
Opening Line: “The last travelers’ inn on the road from Inverness was no place to die.”
Closing Line: “I wasn’t sure what I wanted in life, but I knew now that it was my choice, and as I grinned against Montgomery’s face, I knew that there really was only one life, and I intended to live mine as richly as any person could.” (Whited out.)