From the New York Times bestselling author of Mexican Gothic and Velvet Was the Night comes a dreamy reimagining of The Island of Doctor Moreau set against the backdrop of nineteenth-century Mexico.
Carlota Moreau: a young woman, growing up in a distant and luxuriant estate, safe from the conflict and strife of the Yucatán peninsula. The only daughter of either a genius, or a madman.
Montgomery Laughton: a melancholic overseer with a tragic past and a propensity for alcohol. An outcast who assists Dr. Moreau with his scientific experiments, which are financed by the Lizaldes, owners of magnificent haciendas and plentiful coffers.
The hybrids: the fruits of the Doctor’s labor, destined to blindly obey their creator and remain in the shadows. A motley group of part human, part animal monstrosities.
All of them living in a perfectly balanced and static world, which is jolted by the abrupt arrival of Eduardo Lizalde, the charming and careless son of Doctor Moreau’s patron, who will unwittingly begin a dangerous chain reaction.
For Moreau keeps secrets, Carlota has questions, and in the sweltering heat of the jungle, passions may ignite.
THE DAUGHTER OF DOCTOR MOREAU is both a dazzling historical novel and a daring science fiction journey.
Hi and welcome to my review of The Daughter of Doctor Moreau!
Ever since Mexican Gothic, Silvia Moreno-Garcia has become an auto-buy author for me. I love how all her stories are entirely different genres but they all portray a side of Mexican culture and heritage I know little about.
The Daughter of Doctor Moreau is no exception. First of all, I love that it can’t be put into a single genre box. The overall feel was historical fiction, but there are definitely some science fiction, fantasy and horror influences as well. An unusual but truly terrific combination.
The title will have rung a bell: it obviously refers to The Island of Doctor Moreau by H.G. Wells. I hadn’t read it before tackling The Daughter of Doctor Moreau, but I’d heard of it and I was suitably intrigued by the premise that the doctor might have had a daughter. As the author confirms in her afterword: The Daughter of Doctor Moreau is indeed loosely inspired by H.G. Wells’s story, but once again she manages to set her story in Mexico, against the backdrop of a real conflict: the Caste War of Yucatán. In the meantime I’ve read H.G. Wells’s Doctor Moreau and although it was rather enjoyable I do very much prefer Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s take on things.
The Daughter of Doctor Moreau is told from the POVs of Carlota, the doctor’s natural (read: illegitimate) daughter, and Montgomery, the estate’s mayordomo / the doctor’s assistant. The doctor’s work, sponsored by a wealthy businessman, involves the creation of hybrids, humanoid creatures with various animal parts and traits, who are used as workers on the land, but the doctor’s two most successful hybrids live with him and his daughter and Carlota basically considers them her siblings.
Despite the hybrid thing, The Daughter of Doctor Moreau reads mostly like historical fiction, steadily burning towards the blast that threatens the only life Carlota has ever known. Life prevented me from bingeing this book, I know I would have if I had been able, and I was always looking forward to going back in.
The Daughter of Doctor Moreau is incredibly atmospheric, something I really look for in a story. The words evoke the same feeling the cover does, I really felt like I was there in the tropical heat, with the flowers, the fountain, walking in the jungle, swimming in the cenote.
I had a fantastic time with The Daughter of Doctor Moreau and if you’re looking for a sensory and genre-defying reading experience, this is definitely one to add to your TBR.
Massive thanks to Jo Fletcher Books and NetGalley for the eARC. All opinions are my own.