ARC Review: The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

BOOK STATS

Rating: ☆☆☆
Title: The Daughter of Doctor Moreau
Author: Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Genre: Historical Fiction / Sci-Fi
Audience: Adult
Format: ALC/eARC
Length: 11 hr 40 min (320 pages)
Narrator: Gisela Chípe
Publisher: Del Rey; Penguin Random House Audio
Release Date: July 19, 2022
Source: publisher
Content Warnings: violence, racism, alcoholism, physical abuse, sexual violence, suicidal thoughts, death of parent

SYNOPSIS

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.

MY THOUGHTS

The Daughter of Doctor Moreau is a reimagining of H.G. Wells’s sci-fi horror classic, The Island of Dr. Moreau, set on a secluded estate in Mexico’s Yucatán peninsula during the Caste War. The descriptive, atmospheric writing brings the lush landscape to life and grounds the fantastical aspects of the story against a historical background, infusing the story with the cultural, social, political, and racial conflicts of the time.

I admire Silvia Moreno-Garcia because all of her books are so different each other, sharing only her illustrative writing style and settings in Mexico, but otherwise exploring vastly different genres, characters, time periods, and literary influences. However, considering the grotesque nature of the source material, I expected this book to lean into the macabre of Mexican Gothic or the magic of Gods of Jade and Shadow, but it did neither. This book is more of a coming-of-age character study or a period piece with a slow pace and unsurprising twists. I didn’t find Carlota or Montgomery to be particularly compelling characters, and I was not a fan of their relationship.

I don’t think the story lived up to the potential of a Dr. Moreau retelling. This reads more like historical fiction than science fiction. You do not need to have read the original to read this book. I appreciate the author’s note at the end that explains the history of the political conflicts featured in this book. This book was not what I expected, but it is a beautiful piece of writing.

Thank you to the publisher for the complimentary audiobook and eARC.

Author: Caroline | Carolibrary

Hello! I’m Caroline! I am a teacher, a book lover, and a nerd. My passions include reading, writing, bookstagram, barre & yoga, baking, binging TV shows, and Star Wars. I love stories in all formats because they can transport you to a different world while helping you understand the world around you. I have always found books to be a particularly magical source of imagination.

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