This book had quite a slow start to a good story. It has a wonderful claustrophobic setting and backdrop that just adds to the sense of the unearthly.
Title: The Daughter of Doctor Moreau
Author: Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books, Quercus
Publication Date: 19th July 2022
Rating: 4 stars
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.
I’m already familiar with the H G Wells story, so the slow build up to the existence of the hybrids (part human, part animal) at the beginning of this story wasn’t really a surprising reveal for me, as it may have been for other readers who were going into this a little more blind.
The backdrop of the Yucatan, a peninsular that almost feels separate from the rest of Mexico, as well as the contained and nearly claustrophobia-inducing setting of the jungle around Carlota’s home, add to that slightly gothic feeling that Moreno-Garcia produces so well.
However, I felt that the first half of the book was very drawn out. In part that’s to show the fine balance that everything is working in before Eduardo arrives against his father’s wishes to upset everything. But the actual action didn’t begin until nearly two thirds of the way through with Carlota’s seduction, which made everything feel a lot longer than the novel actually is.
I also found myself anticipating a lot of what was coming, especially with regard to Carlota, although I had expected a slightly more dramatic (rather than positive) ending to the whole story.
I think Moreno Garcia loves writing a slightly broken older man who can only admire the younger (more naive) woman from a distance – and I love to read it.
An enjoyable story and a fresh take on the tale of Doctor Moreau, but this didn’t quite grip me in the way that I wanted it to.
I received an eARC of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.