The Daughter of Doctor Moreau

Silvia Moreno-Garcia

The Daughter of Doctor Moreau
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The Daughter of Doctor Moreau

Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Carlota Moreau: A young woman, growing up in a distant and luxuriant estate, safe from the conflict and strife of the Yucatan peninsula, the only daughter of 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 with plentiful coffers.

The hybrids: The fruits of the Doctor’s labour, destined to blindly obey their creator while they remain in the shadows, are a motley group of part-human, part-animal monstrosities.

All of them are 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.

Review

With a stack of bestsellers such as Mexican Gothic and Gods of Jade and Shadow, Silvia Moreno-Garcia is a powerhouse in modern science fiction and fantasy. Her books are often love letters to the complex beauty of Mexico, and The Daughter of Doctor Moreau is no exception. While she takes some liberties with her reimagining of H.G. Wells’ classic, they all work to make the story a more compelling, addictive read. The Daughter of Doctor Moreau is the perfect kind of retelling because it doesn’t try to serve the same story dressed up differently; it’s a truly inventive reimagining of the original.

Carlota has grown up knowing nothing but Yaxaktun, the secluded estate where her father creates his hybrids, and she has little desire to leave. In Carlota’s mind, Yaxaktun is paradise, and the creatures there are her family. She has grown up with the hybrids, and helped her father with his experiments. But when the son of Moreau’s wealthy patron, Eduardo Lizalde, shows up unexpectedly, the bubble of safety and tranquillity that surrounds Yaxaktun is shattered. The narration alternates between Carlota and Montgomery Laughton, the overseer who runs Moreau’s compound, and while Carlota is the main focus, Laughton’s voice adds to the tension and drama and helps to illustrate the divides in Mexican society in the late 1800s.

The story has the same sense of drama and emotion as Moreno-Garcia’s previous novels; Eduardo and Carlota’s immediate attraction and subsequent relationship is as steamy as the surrounding jungle, and just as dangerous. In addition to confronting similar issues Wells explored in his novel – religion, scientific progress, morality – Moreno-Garcia goes further and forces the reader to think about colonialism and class. The Doctor lives in Mexico not out of any abundance of love or respect for the people there, but because he’s been exiled from his own country of France. The hybrids know they’ve been created to essentially become slaves; their existence is nothing but pain and suffering, yet they remain obsessed with the Doctor’s experiments. And Carlota is unwilling to stand up to her father or go against his wishes; she is obedient and unquestioning to a fault.

Compelling and frustrating in equal measure, Carlota and her self-discovery make for a brilliant, exciting and thought- provoking read that is sure to stay with you long after you turn the last page.

Jennifer Fraioli is from Readings Emporium

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