After killing the men who tried to steal her father’s research, Juliet—along with Montgomery, Lucy, Balthazar, and a deathly ill Edward—has escaped to a remote estate on the Scottish moors. Owned by the enigmatic Elizabeth von Stein, the mansion is full of mysteries and unexplained oddities: dead bodies in the basement, secret passages, and fortune-tellers who seem to know Juliet’s secrets. Though it appears to be a safe haven, Juliet fears new dangers may be present within the manor’s own walls.
Then Juliet uncovers the truth about the manor’s long history of scientific experimentation—and her own intended role in it—forcing her to determine where the line falls between right and wrong, life and death, magic and science, and promises and secrets. And she must decide if she’ll follow her father’s dark footsteps or her mother’s tragic ones, or whether she’ll make her own.
With inspiration from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, this breathless conclusion to the Madman’s Daughter trilogy is about the things we’ll sacrifice to save those we love—even our own humanity.
A Cold Legacy was the perfect conclusion to The Madman’s Daughter trilogy. Each book is progressively darker than the last so that, you, as a reader, descend with Juliet down the spiral of madness. Book one, Juliet is fearful of her father and his experiments, fearful of the darkness that she fears lies within her. Book two, Juliet struggles with the darkness and and toes the line between good and evil. Book three, Juliet’s struggle is less with good versus evil, and more with what degree of darkness accepting the darkness. The covers of the books illustrate this perfectly.
It is also darker in a more sophisticated way than the others. Instead of evil scientists and murderous creatures, A Cold Legacy discusses the fine line between life and death and questions our ability to play God. There is no major villain, no single source of darkness, but I would argue, much darker themes of sacrifice, justifying evil, responsibility, and of course, due to inspiration from Frankenstein, life and death. How far will you go to save a loved one? There are horrific deaths and things that are worse than death. There are gory surgeries and corpses. Everything I could have possibly asked for.
Juliet’s character arc is wonderful. Watching her go from a servant, deathly afraid of the madness within her to a powerful women who embraces who she is and recognizes that she can choose her own path in life was pretty amazing. Lucy grows tremendously as well and becomes a surprising foil for Juliet. She is much more important to the story than she was in book one and played a crucial role. Elizabeth was, I don’t want to say a surprise, but a little but unexpected. I also appreciated how the characters arcs tied in to the themes of the novel. It was extremely well constructed.
The novel is mysterious and tense, slightly haunting, with just the right amount of horror. Never a slow moment. I actually feel l that Shepherd tried to put to much in this one novel, but there was so much that needed to happen. I would have appreciated a longer book so that there would be more time to develop all the ideas that are presented in the novel. However, that could just be me wanting to spend more time with Juliet.
Ultimately, I think, the main question the novel posed is one of fate. The fundamental question of nature versus nurture. How much control do we really have over our own actions?
I highly recommend this trilogy.