H.G. Wells’ The Island of Doctor Moreau, as seen through the eyes of the doctor’s daughter.
Abandoned by her father and mourning the death of her mother, tough yet prissy Juliet Moreau lives in near-poverty working as a medical school scullery maid in Victorian-era London. When she learns that her father inhabits an island far, far away, where he performs horrific experiments on animals via vivisection, Juliet makes her way there along with Montgomery, her father’s assistant, and Edward Prince, a castaway they meet along the way. Naturally, sparks fly among Juliet and the gents, but danger lurks on the island in the form of humanlike creatures—some more ridiculously rendered than others—built from the body parts of animals, the results of Dr. Moreau’s experiments. Shepherd takes several liberties in her interpretation of Wells’ work, including the insertion of Juliet and the naming of Moreau’s creations using Shakespearean characters. The plot moves quickly; in some instances it goes too fast, especially during the voyage from London to the island, when accelerated action forces readers into mental gymnastics. Shepherd excels at worldbuilding in the historical London setting but has trouble fully realizing the landscape of the island. While the chemistry between Juliet and Montgomery spikes instantaneously and believably, the attraction between Prince and Juliet feels more contrived.
An unessential but entertaining interpretation. (Science fiction. 13 & up)