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The Daughter of Doctor Moreau

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This was a fascinating retelling of the Island of Doctor Moreau set in the Yucatan in the 1800s. Carlota and Montgomery were both fascinating characters and while I remembered the basics of the original story, it was interesting to see how Moreno-Garcia wove in different details and changed the perspective of the original. She is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for allowing me early access to this title in exchange for an honest review.

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Next to Mexican Gothic this book looks very sub-par. Thats not to say it’s not a decent read, because it is fine. Yet it’s so far away from the quality and faced pace I loved in Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s first book I read, Mexican Gothic, that it’s hard not to be disappointed. From the twist being much too obvious (in fairness I knew the basis of it from the original Island of Dr Moreau story; but still…), to the characters being fairly flat (do I really want to read about a useless alcoholic who barely redeems himself by doing (mostly) the bare minimum), to overall poor pacing.

Maybe if you read this without knowing the Island of Dr Moreau it would shock you and you’d be more engaged. But then who doesn’t know the premise of Island of Dr Moreau? Additionally, the introductory pages scream at you that something is wrong; and eventually it becomes so obvious it’s almost painful.

If I had wanted to read a straight up version of Moreau I would have gotten out my beautiful illustrated edition. So I can’t knock that Moreno-Garcia made this story her own in her way. The change of locale to Mexican, the change of timing to during a war, and, of course, the inclusion of Moreau claiming to have a daughter. And for that I do commend her. The ending of The Daughter of Doctor Moreau wraps up beautifully. It didn’t play out quite in the cliche I expected; which was a nice surprise.

Overall, if you don’t know the story of Doctor Moreau I think you will be captured by this. Even with its lull halfway through. If you do know the story of Doctor Moreau and are intrigued this is worth a read. Just maybe be prepared that it’s not as clever as you might have hoped for (especially if you’ve read Mexican Gothic and experienced its retelling magic). Hence, three stars, it’s worth a read; but will not make my top books of the year.

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.

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Having finished this book, I’m going to NEED to read everything Silvia Moreno-Garcia has written! I am absolutely blown away by how much I enjoyed this book. This was definitely a slow burn type of read, so I can see how this wouldn’t be for everyone, but this story & these characters just worked themselves under my skin. I really appreciated how unique this was, too—it defies genre, which was so nice for a change. Not to mention, I think this would make an excellent book club selection because there’s a lot that can be unpacked that would make for excellent discussion. Between all of that and the exquisite writing, I’d highly recommend this one!

Thank you to NetGalley and Del Rey for the free digital ARC in exchange for an honest review.
All opinions presented here are my own.

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Unfortunately, this was a DNF at 26% for me. While I loved Silvia's previous books, this one didn't do it for me. It didn't draw me in at all, and it was very hard to be focused on it. I completely lost track of what was happening, which made me decide do DNF it. Maybe the audiobook will work better for me.

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3.5 stars. I love how atmospheric it is, clearly this is and has been the author's strength. The two main characters are quite engaging. Lots of themes explored here, from colonisation, colorism, gender, etc yet I wished there were more exploration on scientific ethic on (making) the hybrids. Lupe could have been an additional good POV character, she seemed interesting enough. I think some parts could be shortened but at least the ending was satisfying enough.

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"The Daughter of Doctor Moreau" is Silvia Moreno-Garcia's latest novel, which, in the vein of her genre-hopping narrative style, takes the reader on a journey back to 19th-century Mexico. Drawing from the wellspring of H.G. Wells' "The Island of Doctor Moreau," Moreno-Garcia weaves a tale that is both a nod to its source material and a work that stands firmly with its own identity, reflecting contemporary sensibilities​​.

Set against the lush and distant Yucatán peninsula, the story unfurls around Carlota Moreau, a young woman insulated from strife by her father's secluded estate. Dr. Moreau, her father, is a man of science consumed by his experiments, creating hybrids that are part human, part animal. The tranquil balance of their world is disrupted with the arrival of Eduardo Lizalde, whose presence begins a series of events that awaken secrets and desires​​.

The book is celebrated for its action-packed narrative, which, despite a gradual build, delivers a second half that is full of excitement and pays off the slow burn of its initial chapters. This pacing strategy is crucial, as it sets up the dominoes that will fall in rapid succession later in the book, leaving the reader with a gratifying experience​​.

Critics have praised Moreno-Garcia for the ingenious adaptations she has made to Wells' original story, integrating the Yucatán Caste War as a backdrop, which sharpens the political and colonial implications of the hybrids' existence. This historical context adds layers to the novel, allowing it to comment on issues of otherness and the consequences of colonialism in a way that resonates with contemporary readers​​.

The narrative employs alternating perspectives between Carlota and Montgomery Laughton, the estate's overseer, whose own demons and penchant for alcohol make him a deeply complex character. Their stories unfold in a world that is seemingly at peace but is brimming with undercurrents of unrest and rebellion. The novel is a tribute to the grandeur of 19th-century literature while also addressing the moral implications of Moreau's experiments, making it a piece of historical fiction that speaks to modern audiences​​.

"The Daughter of Doctor Moreau" has been earmarked as a highly anticipated book, with its release eagerly awaited by fans of Moreno-Garcia's previous works. It has been recognized as a story that is both a dreamy reimagining of a classic and an original narrative that stands on its own merits, showcasing Moreno-Garcia's ability to transcend genres and create a unique and engaging reading experience​​.

"The Daughter of Doctor Moreau" by Silvia Moreno-Garcia is a multifaceted novel that captures the imagination with its gothic undertones and rich historical backdrop. Moreno-Garcia's talent for crafting stories that are both evocative of their inspirations and fresh with new insight is on full display, offering a book that promises to enchant and provoke thought in equal measure. This novel is a testament to the author's growing repertoire, solidifying her place as a versatile and compelling voice in contemporary fiction.

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This is such a satisfying read from Silvia Moreno-Garcia. She is a solid recommendation and I am always happy to steer peoples to her.

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Interesting story which I enjoyed reading from the start. I like the way author wrote characters, not 'paper' but complicated, full of emotions, growing up, finding their way. Great storytelling style.

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I had read several other works by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and had enjoyed all of them. I know that the weight of expectation that comes from knowing an author's previous work can be heavy and I am not sure how much that affected the reading of this story. But I did find that the story did not draw me in as much as her other works and I was longing for something more nuanced about the characters. The setting was wonderfully laid out, the ideas very creative, I just wanted a bit more emotional connection with the characters. Despite this, it is still an entertaining and enjoyable read

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I am becoming quite the fan of Moreno-Garcia! Not really horror per se, but moody gothic greatness. What fun!! I always finish her books feeling a little melancholic but a small smile on my face, wishing the story wasn't over.

Thank you Netgalley for my copy of this book. My review is my own and unbiased.

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I really enjoyed both Mexican Gothic and Certain Dark Things so I was pretty excited for this book. I was expecting a slower start and that’s absolutely what I got. I know some have struggled through this part, but I didn’t mind the history and world building.

About half way the book picks up but I still wasn’t drawn into the book as much as I’d hoped to be. I enjoyed *all* of the hybrids, Carlota and Montgomery but just didn’t feel super excited about the story overall.

It was still very well written and interesting and I would absolutely recommend to those into historical fiction.

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Thanks to the author, publisher and NetGalley for providing this ARC. Silvia Moreno-Garcia is a treasure. She took a classic H.G. Wells novel, added her literary flair and twist and has created a delightful read. Carlota is a fierce, independent character that shines throughout this novel. Massively enjoyed this read. Can't wait to see what Silvia creates next. Highly recommended.

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Not my favorite Garcia book but I liked this better than Mexican Gothic. The characters in this are well-developed and complex, as with all of Garcia's works, each carrying their own secrets and motivations that keep you guessing until the very end. The protagonist, a compelling and flawed figure, finds themselves entangled in a mess that slowly unravels as the plot progresses. The supporting cast adds depth to the narrative, with each character contributing to the overall sense of mystery and tension.

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Carlota, Dr. Moreau’s teenage daughter, lives with the doctor, their housekeeper and other staff at Yaxaktun, a hacienda cum plantation on the Yucatán peninsula in Mexico. Moreau’s patron, Mr. Lizalde arrives at Yaxaktun with Montgomery Laughton, a candidate for the job of mayordomo. Laughton is a damaged man and “all men to him were worse than dogs and he reviled humanity.” However, he is deep in debt to Lizalde and since he doesn’t much care what happens to him, he takes the job.

Flash forward several years. Laughton is still drinking, but is doing a good job. Carlota has blossomed into a beautiful young woman. One day there are rare visitors to the compound…Eduardo Lizalde, son of Yaxaktun’s owner and his cousin, Isidro. And the lives of everyone intersect in only the worst ways.

I’ve never read or seen “The Island of Dr. Moreau” but obvious I’m familiar with the story and it continues, with a slight twist (at least in the way that I understand it) here. The idea has always turned my stomach a bit and while there’s a small part in this book that does too, overall the……am I giving anything away? Isn’t Dr. Moreau pretty much part of the lexicon and if you read this book you know what you’re getting? Patients are just a piteous lot, and in no way frightening. The book is well written and I thoroughly enjoyed it, though most of the characters acted as I expected they would there were also some surprises. Heartily recommended.

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A character driven novel is usually an automatic 5 star for me because it is an art to drum up psychological tricks to make your readers develop empathy. But in this case, the characters and author failed. I disliked everyone. Even my empathy for Carlota faded fast.
Where this did succeed was in the setting and details. A secluded lab where a mad scientist makes creatures short of humanity to a daughter who is awakening but is limited in the number of people she interacts with. You can feel the humidity seep into the villa's walls as the clothes stick to Carlota as she learns there is a world outside her home.
But all in all, it failed and became way to slow in the middle as it tried to be Frankenstein meets Wuthering Heights.

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I love this author and I really enjoyed this book. This is not her best work but it was still so good. I loved Mexican Gothic by this author. The themes from Mexican Gothic were similar to the themes in this book. I read Wells’ The Island of Doctor Moreau years ago and forgot a lot of details from the book. This author’s book is much more memorable. I liked this book a lot more.

This book is not really scary. It does get pretty violent towards the end. However, the hybrids weren’t gruesome or grotesque, which I think was done intentionally. The hybrids were very human-like. This aspect of the book reminded me of Frankenstein. In Frankenstein, readers question who the real monster is. In Garcia Moreno’s book, I felt like the true monsters were not the hybrids.

I loved the underlying themes in this book. The story is simple but has a lot of depth. I feel like I could write a really long essay on this book (but I won’t do that here). I appreciated the Afterword included at the end of the story. It taught me about the history of the Yucatán during this time period. I kind of wish I read the Afterword first before reading the story.

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Actual Rating 2.5

Carlota has grown up spoiled and safe in an isolated state in the Yucatán peninsula. Her father is Doctor Moreau, a man who is either brilliant, mad, or somewhere in between. Montgomery is an Englishman who was hired to be the overseer of the Moreau estate but also struggles with consuming large amounts of alcohol. But life has been relatively peaceful, until an unexpected guest arrives and upsets their balance. Neither Montgomery nor Carlota realize that this guest will reveal secrets and tension that will cause their lives to become upended and force them to make some difficult and dangerous decisions.

The author’s writing style is quite lovely. She created an immersive world and did an excellent job incorporating history into this book. I enjoyed the setting and its descriptions, as well as the time and place she chose to set this story in. However, I disliked the large amount of overlap that was present between the two POVs. This kept the already slow story even slower and became repetitive, especially for the first third of the book.

The characters were just okay. I did like that there was some evident growth for Carlota’s character. But there was no real connection to the characters, and they lacked any emotional pull for me. Also, I hated that we had to go the romance route – it wasn’t believable, and a more sibling-like relationship would have made for a much stronger and more compelling read. As it is, the romance only served to take away page time from things that could have made this read much more interesting.

Unfortunately, from almost the beginning of the work, I knew what the twist was going to be. It wasn’t as dramatic a reveal as I would have liked, and it felt like we spent a long time getting there. I wanted more from this read. Despite several aspects that were good, nothing was great. Things felt surface level and lacked the depth and emotions that I’d hoped to encounter. It’s certainly not a work of horror, but rather historical fiction with a very light sci-fi aspect.

If you enjoy historical fiction with a hint of sci-fi and are looking for something set in a well-written historical Mexico, then you’ll likely enjoy this one. My thanks to NetGalley and Random House Publishing for allowing me to read this work. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are my own.

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The premise is promising but some combination of the elements here makes this a difficult read. As a reader I did not feel invested in the characters, and the writing was very tell-y in a way Moreno-Garcia's other work has not been for me. The experiment angle is somewhat interesting but isn't convincing enough for me to suspend my disbelief. The pacing -- molasses at times, whiplash at others -- also left me feeling really disconnected from this book. I think many will love this book, but for me it was almost painful to get through.

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I have never read The Island of Doctor Moreau, so I approached this spinoff tale without any preconceived notions or expectations about the plot. It tells the story of Moreau's experiments with vivisection and his creation of human-animal hybrids, and of his daughter, who suffers from an ailment for which he's been giving her mysterious treatments since childhood. It's set in a remote hacienda on the Yucatan peninsula, and I liked the setting against the backdrop of 1870s Mexican history.

The premise is intriguing, and while it starts off slow, the story kept me engaged as the tension rose, and I absolutely LOVED that the author chose not to go for a traditional, expected ending. The characters are messy and memorable, and felt genuine. The writing is picturesque and vividly descriptive. In a few places the prose seems to stretch a little bit higher than it can reach, with some occasional odd word choices or clumsy phrasing, and at times the dialogue reads as more modern than contemporary for the period, but these are slight stumbles on an otherwise very enjoyable journey. I was beginning to anticipate feeling a little bit annoyed/disappointed at a direction one narrative thread seemed to be heading, but I was happily surprised that it didn't end up going in that direction at all, and I was delighted with the conclusion the author chose instead.

I had a great time reading this book, and I'm thankful to the author, the publisher, and to Netgalley for the opportunity to read a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest and review. I will be buying a physical copy to add to my bookshelf for future re-reading.

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This compelling narrative revolves around the life of Carlota Moreau, the daughter of the renowned Dr. Moreau, as she comes of age amidst the lush backdrop of the Yucatán peninsula. Dr. Moreau is known for his groundbreaking work in creating hybrid beings, melding elements of both humans and animals, resulting in creatures that oscillate between endearing and monstrous. The story unfolds through the alternating perspectives of Carlota and Montgomery, Dr. Moreau's dedicated overseer and assistant.

Intriguingly, the destinies of these characters are inextricably tied to the Lizaldes, the powerful and enigmatic family who own Dr. Moreau's residence and finance his daring experiments. When Eduardo Lizalde enters Carlota's life, the narrative takes a dramatic turn, setting in motion a chain of events laden with conflict and consequence.

The author's undeniable talent shines through in this narrative, weaving together a vivid and immersive tapestry of imagery that transports readers to the heart of the Yucatán peninsula. The prose is nothing short of brilliant, with the author's skillful storytelling and evocative descriptions painting a rich and captivating world. Through a masterful narrative pose, the author skillfully delves into the complex web of relationships, morality, and ambition, making for a truly mesmerizing reading experience.

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