The Daughter of Doctor Moreau Book Review Written By: Diamond Braxton Release Date: July 19, 2022 The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silva Moreno-Garcia takes place in Yucatán, Mexico, against the backdrop of The Caste War of Yucatán in 1847. In a time when the native Mayans were subjugated to forced labor from the Spanish, the British, and others, the story centers on Doctor Moreau, a British researcher who has been experimenting with creating hybrids: people mixed with animals in an effort to supply strong workers who can replace the “disobedient” Indian workers.
Carlota Moreau, his daughter, has enjoyed the luxury of the Yucatán peninsula, sheltered from the world as she enjoys lush trees, gorgeous views, and admirable isolation. She has grown up with the other hybrids who to her are like family, while to everyone else, are abominable creations. To help aid Doctor Moreau in his conquests, Montgomery Laughton, a heavy drinker, outcast, and lost soul, was hired on to assist in the project. In his six years at the hidden island, Laughton begins to see the beauty in the hybrids, and more specifically, in Carlota.
They all live happily in solitude. Doctor Moreau’s research is funded by the Lizaldes, a powerful rich family who is hoping to use the hybrids to conduct their labor on their haciendas since the Indians have been fighting against their employers and running away. However, the Moreaus’ world is thrown into chaos as Mr. Lizalde’s son, Eduardo and his men decide to visit his father’s estate to meet the doctor he is paying. When Carlota and the hybrids get exposed to outsiders for the first time, secrets unravel, passions and jealousy unfurl, and an ominous threat looms over their very existence.
What I Loved
Silva Moreno-Garcia dazzles us once again with her immersive, cultural writing. I found myself in love with the backdrop of the Yucatán and Carlota herself, a gorgeous brown-skinned woman who is quick to emotion, naive, and cares about her unique family and the island. The characterization in this story is spectacular. While there are very clear “bad” people, it’s easy to find the goodness in everyone. The ethics of Doctor Moreau’s research is an immoral choice; however, his reasoning for creating hybrids makes sense for his character. I had a hard time disliking anyone in the story, even in their worst moments. There is only one person I couldn’t stand, but I will leave that to you to discover when reading. I found the novel to be historically rich, despite being a literary novel. Learning about the history of how the Mayan people were treated by those needing cheap labor for their sugar cane farms and haciendas was insightful and played a primary role in the novel. It was wonderful seeing the history interact with the text and not just be an unused detail. Another intriguing part of the story is the hybrids themselves. These human-like creatures are all different in their own way. Lupe and Cachito are the only ones to come out mostly strong and unscathed by major deformities, unlike the others who suffer from painful growths, body abnormalities, and so much more. However, they are all a family, a community, and it sets the tone for how creating hybrids to be used for labor is just as wrong as subjugating Mayans who were on the land first. What makes the story as strong as it is, however, is Carlota. She has been on the island all her life and has never once left or wanted to leave. She loves the Yucatán, her family, and most importantly, feels it's important to obey her father and do as he says. So, as the Lizaldes come to visit, the plot thickens as Carlota has to navigate an unknown: other people, a weird sensation growing inside of her, and a very handsome green-eyed, wealthy man. We, as readers, get to watch Carlota grow from innocence to experiencing the world and having to make tough decisions where there are no easy ways out. Her decision-making in the story and her growth and evolution were my favorite moments in the novel. The Rating For fear of giving too much away, I am keeping this review short. It is a must-read for anyone who is a fan of Moreno-Garcia’s work or for those looking to immerse themselves in a culturally rich, speculative novel. While I feel like there are many texts that discuss hybrid creation, Moreno-Garcia is able to paint this archetype in a new, refreshing light with a protagonist you’ll want to root for. Because I would recommend this book to everyone I know, I am gladly giving this book a 5/5. It releases July 19th, 2022 and is the perfect addition to your summer reading list. You can pre-order it from Bookshop here, and I HIGHLY recommend you do it