The Daughter of Doctor Moreau

Del Rey: Ballantine. Jul. 2022. 320p. ISBN 9780593355336. $28. F
Inspired by H.G. Wells’s The Island of Doctor Moreau, Moreno-Garcia’s (Velvet Was the Night) new novel takes place in 1870s Yucatán, Mexico, and focuses on Carlota, the daughter of the eccentric scientist Doctor Moreau, whose life’s ambition is to improve humanity through creating hybrids between man and beast and is dependent on an increasingly stingy Hernando Lizalde for funds. Carlota lives in isolation with the doctor, his hybrids, and Montgomery, the estate’s caretaker, who is also desperately in love with her. Their lives change when Lizalde’s son Eduardo stumbles across the hacienda, ignorant of the doctor’s work, and falls in love with Carlota. The doctor is eager for them to marry in secret, cementing his needed funding, but in doing so puts the hybrids at risk. When Carlota begins to question her father’s experiments, she must also face her past and her very nature.
VERDICT This is historical science fiction at its best: a dreamy reimagining of a classic story with vivid descriptions of lush jungles and feminist themes. Some light romance threads through the heavier ethical questions concerning humanity. Readers of Isabel Cañas’s The Hacienda will be drawn in by the setting and themes; fans of other classic remixes, such as Megan Shepherd’s The Madman’s Daughter, will also enjoy.
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