The Sins of the Father Visited Upon the Daughter
The Daughter of Doctor Moreau Book Cover The Daughter of Doctor Moreau
Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Del Rey
July 19, 2022
Kindle, Hardcover

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.

What Secrets Does the Island of Doctor Moreau Hold?

The Daughter of Doctor Moreau is a loose retelling of The Island of Doctor Moreau by H. G. Wells, to the extent that it involves animal-human hybrids who have been engineered by a man who believes he can create the perfect specimen through his work. It is set on the Yucatan Peninsula amidst the historical struggle for sovereignty and land rights of the Mayan people against the European descendants who dominated the social order in Mexico during the nineteenth century. This fusing of science fiction with historical fiction was one I really enjoyed; the novel carried flavors of caution about social inequalities and abuse of power, while also warning against too much tampering with nature and the natural order. Overall, I enjoyed the philosophical undertones of the story, but I failed to make a real connection with Carlota Moreau, the subject of the novel, and found that the pace of the plot seemed to drag on occasion. That being said, for fans of Silvia Moreno-Garcia, this book has her beautiful prose, and stays true to the wildly creative and speculative nature of her writing, so it is definitely worth a read!

The hybrids developed by Doctor Moreau, were made to become laborers for his patron, Hernando Lizalde, the owner of numerous haciendas spread out across Mexico. He seldom visits Doctor Moreau, but as the story picks up, he has made it clear that he needs to see results soon, or he will no longer be able to fund Moreau’s experiments. The problem is that all of the hybrids have some level of infirmity that comes on with age, and their life span is short. They also require monthly infusions in order to stay functional, making them unfit to work on the haciendas, although they do successfully tend the crops and household for Doctor Moreau. They are unquestioningly loyal and subservient to Doctor Moreau, Carlota, and the overseer of the property, Montgomery, although one of the younger hybrids has begun to question what the wider world might be like. The relationship between the hybrids and their caretakers serves as a microcosm of the overall issues in Mexico regarding abuses of power, and social inequality.

Doctor Moreau seeks to ensure future funding from Hernando Lizalde by using Carlota as bait for Lizalde’s son, Eduardo. Eduardo and Carlota do promptly fall in love and decide to become engaged, despite knowing that it will send the elder Lazalde into a rage due to Carlota’s lack of social standing. The scheming that follows leads to tragedy, murder, unwanted revelations, and the destruction of the only life that Carlota has ever known. Had the entire book been as action packed and fast paced as the last 30% it most likely would have been a five-star read for me. The ending is bittersweet, but fitting for the story, leaving plenty of room for each reader to imagine what happens to Carlota next.