Book Review : The Daughter of Doctor Moreau

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review : The Daughter of Doctor MoreauThe Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Published by Random House Publishing Group on July 19th 2022
Genres: Fiction, Science Fiction, Genetic Engineering, Thrillers, Historical, Hispanic & Latino
Pages: 320
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Source: NetGalley

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 on a distant and luxuriant estate, safe from the conflict and strife of the Yucatán peninsula. The only daughter of a researcher who is 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 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 live in a perfectly balanced and static world, which is jolted by the abrupt arrival of Eduardo Lizalde, the charming and careless son of Dr. 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 the third book I’ve read by author Silvia Moreno-Garcia, the other two being Mexican Gothic and Certain Dark Things, and I honestly have to say that this is my new favorite of her works. A new take on H.G. Wells’s The Island of Doctor Moreau, the novel follows the eponymous daughter of Doctor Moreau, Carlota, as she grows up on an isolated island, where the only secrets are not her father’s “hybrid” experiments. 


“The hybrids suffered for the sake of humanity. Yet pain was a gift, that was her father’s refrain. Pain must be endured, for without it, there’d be no sweetness.”


The Daughter of Doctor Moreau is told from the alternating perspectives of Carlota and Montgomery, the new mayordomo of the island who performs whatever tasks are needed, whether it’s protection, hunting, or chaperoning the young lady. I quickly grew to love both of these characters—Carlota, with her naivete of the world at large and her rapture at the beauty and majesty of her home and Montgomery, with his past earth-shattering heartbreak and propensity for drunkenness. Author Moreno-Garcia does a great job of depicting the sheltered nature of Carlota’s life against a quietly building backdrop that not all is what it seems on the island. 


“She recalled what Ramona had said that Yaxaktun was the end of the world. And she thought that yes, this man was here because he believed that was the case, that he had reached the end of the world and he was simply waiting for the annihilation of all things.”


I was unable to put The Daughter of Doctor Moreau down and even read it in one sitting, so enchanted was I by the deceptive cocoon of the lush jungle of the Yaxaktun and the mysteries of the island. Though the author states that the novel isn’t considered horror, and instead science fiction, the pervasive unease that seeps into Carlota’s and Montgomery’s daily lives has the same kind of building dread as the former genre. The novel feels like a softer, less-traditional sort of horror, and is one that will keep readers on its toes, while simultaneously and deftly weaving in subtle commentary on colonialism, ableism, and misogyny.   


My only “complaints” with this suspenseful and enthralling novel, feel more like nitpicks to me than anything else. To me, the main secret involving the island was rather obvious from the get-go and I wished the groundwork laid hinting to it had been less obvious. I also felt that the “villains” of the novel, the wealthy landowners that fund Doctor Moreau’s research, the Izaldes, were not nearly as well fleshed out as the rest of the characters. In fact, they felt more like archetypes than actually developed characters in comparison to the rest of the cast. I also felt like the pacing rather slowed down once the Izaldes arrived, but this did not lessen my enjoyment of the novel in the least, as I was so invested in the story and its characters. 


The Daughter of Doctor Moreau, with its complex characters, creeping tension, and lush backdrop of the jungle is a pure delight to read. I recommend this novel to fans of both horror and science fiction, and of course, of Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s other works. Even with having discovered the secrets of the novel once, I could easily see myself rereading The Daughter of Doctor Moreau in the future and enjoying it just as much as the first time. 


Book Review :The Daughter of Doctor Moreau

Posted May 20, 2022 in Book Reviews, Science Fiction


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