Title: Her Dark Curiosity
Author: Megan Shepherd
No. of Pages: 432
Genre: Horror; Young Adult
Origins: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: 28 January 2014
Bottom Line: One too many coincidences only slightly diminishes this fast-paced thriller of a sequel
“Months have passed since Juliet Moreau returned to civilization after escaping her father’s island—and the secrets she left behind. Now back in London, she is rebuilding the life she once knew and trying to forget Dr. Moreau’s horrific legacy—though someone, or something, hasn’t forgotten her.
As people close to Juliet fall victim one by one to a murderer who leaves a macabre calling card of three clawlike slashes, Juliet fears one of her father’s creations may have also made it off the island. She is determined to find the killer before Scotland Yard does, though it means awakening sides of herself she had thought long banished, and facing loves from her past she never expected to see again.
As Juliet strives to stop a killer while searching for a serum to cure her own worsening illness, she finds herself once more in the midst of a world of scandal and danger. Her heart torn in two, past bubbling to the surface, life threatened by an obsessive killer—Juliet will be lucky to escape alive.
With inspiration from Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, this is a tantalizing mystery about the hidden natures of those we love and how far we’ll go to save them from themselves.”
Thoughts: Her Dark Curiosity is another thrill ride into the deepest recesses of a person – those hidden sources of darkness that draws one to the disturbing and macabre – not just of Juliet Moreau but also of the reader. For, the compelling nature of the story lies not in Juliet finding love or obtaining a “happily ever after” ending to her tragic childhood but rather in the ease with which she can accept the most horrific of situations, the way her mind simultaneously recoils and thrills at the most gruesome of mutilations, and her attraction to her father’s research. This combination of dark and light is a most human characteristic, and Ms. Shepherd continues to draw on a reader’s recognition of this dual nature to continue to fuel the reader’s connection with Juliet.
Whereas the first novel was all about Juliet’s terrible past and rectifying her father’s abandonment of her, this sequel sees Juliet in more favorable circumstances. She recovered from her second abandonment on the island and reentered respectable society again under the patronage of one of her father’s old friends. However, as Juliet discovered once before, the past does not always stay dead. The ubiquitous disbelief and confusion, followed rapidly by happiness, relief, and more confusion ensue. While Juliet may no longer be alone, her problems naturally multiply by the reappearance of her past, and the choices she makes sets the stage for yet another book in the Moreau saga.
It isn’t as if Her Dark Curiosity is a bad sequel. It remains a taut thriller, intense in all the right places, fast-paced, with enough attention to detail to create vivid imagery. Juliet is still a fascinating amalgam of her father and her mother, and this duality manifests itself in her two choices for love. There is just a feel of disbelief about the story that is difficult to overcome. Readers may be able to accept beasts made into men, but the reappearances of various characters feels too contrived. Extreme science fiction is one thing but convenient plot devices are something else entirely, and that is where Her Dark Curiosity draws its false note. Unfortunately, the reappearance of those characters is only the first of many conveniences that occur, and all stretch a reader’s capacity to accept them.
In the end, Her Dark Curiosity remains an entertaining story, and that, ultimately, is the most important thing. Readers may roll their eyes at all of the cheesy coincidences that happen to help Juliet in her quest to find answers but will continue on with the story because it is a good story. Just as Juliet is drawn to her father’s disturbing research, readers will remain attracted to Juliet’s own story as she searches for a cure and a way to right the damage inflicted by her father. It is not perfect, but Her Dark Curiosity keeps a person guessing and holds their interest through a mix of fascinating historical details and gory science fiction. If the Moreau family teaches a person anything, it is that humans do love the gory and weird. Her Dark Curiosity proves it.