A historical drama reimagining of The Island of Doctor Moreau set against the backdrop of nineteenth-century Mexico.
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.
“IF SHE’D BEEN A SIREN LURING HIM TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA, HE WOULD HAVE FOLLOWED. IF SHE’D BEEN A GORGON HE’D HAVE LET HIMSELF BE TURNED INTO STONE”
Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a sucker for retellings – especially if said retellings are of H.G. Wells’ The Island of Doctor Moreau.
Megan Shepherd’s The Madman’s Daughter is not only one of my favourite retellings of Wells’ classic, but it’s also up there as one of my favourite trilogies of all time. At first glance, The Daughter of Doctor Moreau seemed to offer a similar premise as it’s focused on Moreau’s young daughter, Moreau’s set of hybrids and the arrival of a stranger that throws the island into chaos.
At first, I was indifferent to the end product. However, having more time to sit with my thoughts on The Daughter of Doctor Moreau, I couldn’t be more disappointed at the outcome.
I’ve not read anything by Moreno-Garcia before, but I have heard good things. The writing in The Doctor of Doctor Moreau is very atmospheric. Moreno-Garcia brings the island to life with lush and lavish descriptions. It’s all very pretty, but once you delve under the purple prose, you quickly find that there’s little substance. There’s no big plot that has you hanging on, which inevitably means that there was nothing driving me to a) continue reading and b) emotionally invest in these characters. Simply put, beyond Carlotta’s mild flirtationship of Montogomery and her courtship of Eduardo leading to a few messy fights, there’s no real action.
The action that we do get to save hybrid island is lukewarm at best. In fact, Moreau’s creatures take a huge back seat. Science fiction horror, it ain’t. Dramatic historical romance, absolutely. Had Moreno-Garcia not made passing references to Moreau and his experiments, I would think it was simply it was another period drama love story, which is such a shame when you have such rich source material from the Wells’ original to really play around with and add weight to this retelling.
Moreno-Garcia is clearly a gifted writer. The Daughter of Doctor Moreau has some very vivid and beautiful descriptions but sadly, that cannot sustain a whole novel. It really needed an injection of life to the plot and the finished product is, unfortunately, not what it says on the tin.