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

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.

Carlota Moreau had led a sheltered life on her distant estate far from any trouble on the Yucatán peninsula. Her days are spent helping her father with his hybrids, half animal half human creations, created to blindly obey the Doctor, and Montgomery Laughton an outcast who finds himself in the Doctor’s employ. Their lives are quiet, simple and monotonous, that is until the arrival of Eduardo Lizalde, the son of the Doctor’s patron. His arrival sets into motion a chain of events that will change their lives forever, throwing everything they knew into the wind and bringing to light the true purpose behind the Doctor’s monstrosities.

The story is told from the alternating POV’s of Carlota and Montgomery. Carlota’s story is that of a girl coming of age in a world she is wholly unprepared for. She finds herself constantly pulled between her wish to be a good daughter and her desire to see and feel things she hasn’t been able to experience. She is naive and extremely curious, wanting to experience all life has to offer without really understanding the consequences. Montgomery is a jaded man. In debt to the Lizalde family after his wife left him, he went to work for the Doctor as a way to pay it off but finds himself interwoven in this bizarre family of humans and creations. He drinks to forget his past as well as to try and deny his future, but he is loyal to the Moreau’s and is willing to do anything to protect them and the creations he lives with.

We also get an introduction to many of the hybrids that live on the estate. Creatures that most people would find monstrous. Part human part animal, none could truly survive in the human world but looks, as we always know, can be deceiving. These creatures have the same feelings, wants, needs, desires as humans do and thanks to both Carlota and Montgomery seeing them in a positive light, we as the reader feel for them and worry for their survival. The Doctor is the other main side character we get a view of and he is a man who believes what he is doing is right, damn the consequences. Genius often breads a certain type of person, one who is blinded by their goals, determined to make the world see things their way, and he is more than willing to cause pain to achieve his goals.

A big theme in this book is what it means to be a monster. Unsurprisingly, the real monsters in this book aren’t the hybrids, but the humans who choose to fear them, the human who created them. It’s a fear deep rooted in society, a fear of anything different, and once they see these creatures, they are determined in their opinion. But the creatures aren’t cruel, they simply want to survive in a world that is not willing to accept them. It tells us that looks can be deceiving, and that it’s not what’s on the outside that makes us a monsters, but rather the thoughts that we have on the inside, our actions that truly show how monstrous we can be.

If you’ve been following me for a while then you know that Silvia Moreno Garcia is one of my all time favourite authors. Not only do I love all her books, but she is one of the few authors who has got me to read books outside of my comfort genres and enjoy them. The Daughter or Doctor Moreau is a science fiction novel with horror elements, though don’t worry if you’re a wimp because it’s by no means overly scary. Through the story Moreno-Garcia shows us the plight of women, social and gender inequality. Having her books largely set in Mexico, through differing conflicts, she always brings an extra depth to her story and this was no different showing the relations between the Mexican. British and Maya rebels. This also added to the commentary of what makes a monster, the British being unable to see the hybrids as anything other than a servant or a threat, with the rebels on the other side recognising them for what they truly are.

With The Daughter of Doctor Moreau Moreno-Garcia has one again created a genre bending read filled with romance, social commentary and wondrously dynamic characters. It’s plot twist may be easy to guess, but that takes nothing away from the shock factor and instead gets you more emotionally invested in the story line. If you enjoy atmospheric reads, writing that completely immerses you in the story and a setting that almost becomes a character itself, then look no further.

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