Khanh the Killjoy

YEEEEEEEEEAH. I needed this book.

Her Dark Curiosity - Megan Shepherd
“Compassion?” he hissed. “Why would you have sympathy for a monster?”
“Because we’re not so different!"

*minor spoilers for the first 1/3 of the book*

The main character makes some dangerous, questionable choices.

She is desperate for answers. She makes some extremely risky decisions.

There is romance.

There is a love triangle.

I REGRET NOTHING. NOTHING, YOU HEAR ME?! Call me a hypocrite. I don't care. I freaking loved this book. The writing is fantastic. The characters are wonderful. The mystery kept me guessing.

This would be one of those situations in which enjoyment trumps sense. This is by no means a perfect book, but I loved it, anyway. What can I say? It's chemistry. Sometimes it just strikes. If the previous book in this series was a retelling of The Island of Dr. Moreau, this book is a retelling of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

I could barely put this book down. It was packed with action from the first moment to the last. This book has a Jack the Ripper-type murder in an awesomely creepy Victorian gaslamp era setting. The main character is strong, she makes mistakes, but she is strong, she is determined, and I am solidly on her side.

There is an awesome supporting cast of characters, including strong female friendships. There is no girl-on-girl hate in this book. Can I get a motherfucking yeah? YEAH.

I know there are people who hated this book because of the love triangle, because of the sometimes TSTL actions of the main character. I know that, I recognize that, but it did not affect my enjoyment of this book.

I regret nothing.

The Summary: It is a year after Juliet left her mad scientist father's island, the island with the creatures, crafted from bits and pieces of other creatures---Frankensteins, if you will. Edward is presumed dead, Montgomery has abandoned her. Her father is dead, she is alone in the world.

Her new life is a good one. It is far beyond what she could have ever hoped. She is now a proper young Victorian lady, living a sheltered life. By a twist of fate, her father's childhood friend, Professor von Stein heard about her plight. He takes her in, acts as a guardian. He is a gentle, quiet, compassionate man. Professor von Stein is the father Juliet wishes that she had. It is a good life, but unbeknownst to the professor and all who know her, Juliet is leading a double life.

By night, she sneaks out of the house to a suite which she rents with her own hard-earned money grafting flowers. She uses her alternate home to conduct experiments to save her own life. Juliet is sick---she has the symptoms of diabetes, gout. She suffers from shakes, pain. The serum that her father made her has decreased in its efficacy as she has grown older. Juliet is desperately trying to create a new serum that will save her life.

It really is not a bad life at all, until Juliet's past comes roaring back to the present.

People have been getting murdered on the streets of London. The murders appear to be connected. The bodies have been shredded to pieces by what looks like claws."

"They’re calling him the Wolf of Whitechapel on account of how he carves up the bodies. One of them had a purse on him and a gold watch, but the murderer didn’t touch it. Wasn’t interested in anything but tearing that man apart like an animal.”

There's something strange about the murders. The murderer has left a tropical flower on every body he kills. But Juliet knows there's something more to the murders, something that connects her to them.

Four. I knew all four victims.
And in turn, I realized, I had been victim to each of them.

The victims all had wronged Juliet at one time or another in the past.

It is Edward. Only it is not Edward. Edward has a duel personality, himself, and what he calls The Beast. Edward is a gentle, kind man. The Beast kills.

The Beast writhed on the floor, caught somewhere between man and creature in the midst of a transformation. He was doubled over in pain as claws slid into his bloody joints and then out again. His back buckled and strained as the two sides of him fought for control. In one instant he was the Beast, snarling and furious; in the next he was Edward, reaching out a hand toward me and trying to form words, and then back again.

Edward's Beast is getting harder and harder to control. He is no longer able to hold back his need to kill. Edward needs Juliet's help to find a cure, and she is sympathetic to his cause, for she knows the feeling of desperation. Of loneliness.

“We’ll find the missing ingredient, and we’ll get rid of the Beast.” I realized how desperate my voice sounded. Desperate for him, or desperate for me, now that I had someone in my life who shared my secrets?

But Edward's secret is not all that's at stake. Old friends, old lovers come back into her life. Her father's past comes to haunt her; Juliet has more enemies than she knows.

The Characters: Juliet is not perfect, I would venture to say she is TSTL at times, but I found her to be such a convincing, sympathetic person. She is desperate. We hear that over and over, and I understand it. She is so lonely, she carries so many secrets from the past that she can share with no one, because really, would anyone believe her? "Hi, my name is Juliet, my father is a mad scientist/Dr. Frankenstein wannabe who craft humanoid creatures from animal parts on a deserted island." Not exactly the sort of stuff you go telling people about at tea parties, is it?

She holds so many secrets, and it is those secrets and her loneliness that drives her to sympathize with the monster that is Edward/The Beast. She knows perfectly well that Edward is a monster, but she sympathizes with him anyway. She sometimes feels like she is a monster herself. Juliet sometimes has urges...but unlike Edward, she keeps those violent tendencies bottled up.

This is what had fascinated me about him—monster and man sharing the same breath—and now it terrified me.
Well, I could be a monster, too.

Juliet is fucking dumb sometimes, but she realizes it. Her stupid choices are made out of desperation, and sympathy for Edward, and I forgive her for it.

I leaned my head back against the worn wood of the stairwell, eyes closed, uncertain if I was making the biggest mistake of my life by helping a murderer, or if I had found the one person in the world who understood me.

She is strong, and she is willing to do what it takes to rid London of a murderer, even if it goes against her nature.

If we couldn’t strangle the Beast out of him, if there was no way to separate the two, then I’d kill him myself.

Edward himself was such a well-rounded character, his split personalities well-drawn. The jealous, murderous, raging, seductive Beast versus the gentle creature who wants nothing more than to be a man.

You’ve always had that animal inside you, stirring, since you were an infant. It’s been more of a friend to you than any of those girls who titter behind their fans in church. You’re afraid that if you rid yourself of it, you’ll be hollow. A shell of a person content to let the days pass in boredom and chores, never really feeling, never truly living. Not like how I live."

I loved the supporting characters in the book. They feel real to me; I understand them and I like them.

There are other female characters in the book besides Juliet, and both Lucy (her best friend from the first book) and Elizabeth are very well-rounded, strong female supporters. I loved that about this book. There is no hate on any of the female characters.

The Setting: Dark, dank Victorian-era setting. We are caught between upper-middle-class tea parties and the slums, as Juliet lives her other life. It is a beautiful setting, just detailed enough not to be intrusive, and I really loved it. There were some inconsistencies and some unbelievable parts in the book, like the use of fingerprints, and the shipment of flowers from other countries (come on, this is Victorian England). But other than that, the setting felt fitting for the atmosphere of the book.

The Romance: Love triangle. It was well-done, I felt that the love triangle played a good role in the plot, and dare I say, I enjoyed it?

It really did play a part in the plot. Edward's jealousy, more specifically, The Beast's jealousy, was vital in the plot.

"I won’t let anything, or anyone, come between us."
His pupils were already starting to elongate. In moments the Beast would fully emerge. He leaned close enough that his lips grazed my earlobe. “I won’t let you go.”

Seriously, I regret nothing.