Hello, everyone! Today I’m reviewing The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. I enjoyed my first book by this author when I read The Beautiful Ones last year. So, I’ve been looking forward to diving back into some more of Moreno-Garcia’s beautiful prose. Here’s what I thought of her new book!
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.
***Thank you to NetGalley and Del Rey for providing a copy of the book. My review contains my honest thoughts about my reading experience.***
I love the way Moreno-Garcia writes, and this book was no exception. Her prose is always so atmospheric and makes it easy to get lost in the worlds and characters she creates. I loved the historical setting of this story, and I really appreciated the note at the end that summarized the major conflicts of this period of Mexican history. Despite the rather limited backdrop of the story itself (it takes place largely in one isolated ranch), it felt infused with life, culture, and history, which is a true testament to the author’s skill at weaving an engaging narrative. Additionally, the science fiction elements of the story were fascinating and proposed interesting questions about personhood and the ethics of genetic manipulation. My favorite thing about Moreno-Garcia’s writing here and in previous books, though, is the depth of the characterizations. Carlota was the subject of a riveting coming-of-age story about developing her own agency in a time and culture that treated her largely like an object. Montgomery, on the other hand, was struggling to deal with his past and self-loathing after being abused in his childhood and abandoned by the love of his life. Both characters were compelling, and they had excellent chemistry together.
There were only a couple of things I didn’t like about the book, and they were mostly due to personal preferences rather than actual problems with story execution. For example, Montgomery’s pining for Carlota felt weird to me due to the age gap and him having watched her grow up for six years. I understand that it was normal in the time period of the book’s setting, and it wasn’t written in a creepy way. However, I just couldn’t get past the idea that it would be the equivalent of me pining after a college student I’d known since they were in middle school. I also don’t particularly care for the narrative choice of re-visiting the same scenes from multiple POVs, especially when the previous POV ended on an impactful moment. This book did it multiple times, and while it wasn’t done poorly and added some extra context, I still found it annoying at times.
Overall, though, this was a very enjoyable read with compelling characters, rich prose, and fascinating historical and science fiction elements. Therefore, I rate The Daughter of Doctor Moreau 4 out of 5 stars.