Harley Quinn: Mad Love Review

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When she was only seven years old, Harleen Quinzel witnessed her father being beaten up by thugs, and then arrested by the police. That night she ran away to the safest place she could think of: Coney Island amusement park. But there, pursued into the Funhouse by the men who brutalized her father, she beheld unimaginable horrors.

Years later, Harleen has put her past behind her, and used her intelligence and ambition to escape her childhood of poverty with a career in psychiatry. Assigned to her first position at Arkham Hospital, she will discover, deep in the asylum, something dangerous and alluring, something quite unlike anything else she has ever known before: The Joker. Because why would you settle for love, when you could have MAD LOVE?

Written by Harley’s co-creators Paul Dini and Pat Cadigan, if you’ve ever been curious of Harley Quinn’s origin, Mad Love is the book for you. It’s a great read for those only familiar with Harley on a superficial level, while there’s plenty of new information for fans. 

In comparison to the original Mad Love, this goes much deeper, giving readers a look into Harley’s tragic childhood and following her struggles before she becomes a successful psychiatrist. 

Smart. Driven. Intelligent. These would be the right words to describe Harleen Quinzel, not to be confused with Harley Quinn. When Harleen Quinzel sets her sights on something, nothing will stop her from seeing it through. Even if it turns out to be a mistake, a failure, or costs Harleen her life. So when she sets her focus to prove her skills as an understanding psychiatrist there’s no better patient than The Joker to take on and rehabilitate. 

Though most of us knows how this ends, we don’t know how it began, the events and details that led up to the fall of Harleen Quinzel, and the rise of Harley Quinn. Mad Love does a great balancing act of giving an alluring backstory without romanticizing reality. The book shows The Joker/Harley relationship for what it is – abusive, manipulative, and mad. 


In addition to great writing, fans will be happy to know we see a lot of familiar faces, with many introduced as Harleen’s patients. However, I know I won’t be the only one disappointed at the brief interactions Harley has with them when she finds herself in the role of the patient. 

Characters include:

  • Harleen Quinzel/Harley Quinn
  • Dr. Leland
  • The Joker
  • Batman
  • Pamela Isley/Poison Ivy
  • Harriett Pratt/March Harrier 
  • Margaret Pye/Magpie
  • Mary Lousie Dahl

Those of us familiar with the original Mad Love realize that ‘character development’ isn’t quite the right term…but at the same time it is. Harleen’s journey from a poor city kid with criminal parents to paving her own way to success is something to cheer about. We get a lot of insight without the flare of drama for an effect, because it’s just not needed. And then there’s her downfall, but it’s also the development of Harley Quinn. Only inside this world of comics can we describe someone’s life literally falling apart ‘character development.’ And let’s be honest – Harley Quinn is quite the character. 

Dr. Leland stands to be the voice of authority at all the wrong times. When she was finally the voice of reason, it was too late. She plays a big role in feeding Harleen’s need to prove herself as a psychiatrist. The dynamic between these two is a clever one – two psychiatrists with ulterior and personal motives using their knowledge and wits against each other. 

Seeing The Joker this way, from an earlier POV of Harleen’s is another great reason to read Mad Love if you’re already a fan and familiar. Another must? Harley describing Batman, his silly costume, his fancy tights, and literally referring to him as a bat.  


I would highly recommend this to friends who follow Harley and The Joker, as well as those who simply saw them in Suicide Squad. You don’t need prior knowledge to enjoy this book, but even better, those who know Harley and The Joker inside out will still read about something new.

You can get your hands on Harley Quinn: Mad Love now directly from the Titan Books website Tomorrow November 13th! They will direct you to a local distributor!


  • Storyline & Character Continuity
  • Character Depth
  • Harleen’s Storyline as a Child and Transitioning into Dr. Quinzel


  • Name Dropping Popular Characters with Brief Interactions 
  • The Argument of Harley being in Love vs. being a Victim is still Unsettled
  • A lot of Smaller Storylines were left Unexplored with Loose Ends


Story - 8
Writing - 8
Characters - 7
Character Development - 7
Book Length - 10
Connection to DC Universe - 7
C R E A T E D T O C R E A T E vb local || writer || author || fiction editor || girl-skater || celiac disease warrior 1. Helena is my soul sestra 2. I Have a Deathwish 3. Elephants 4. I only write on days that end in 'y'
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