The Daughter of Doctor Moreau (Review)

It feels like forever since I had anything new to share on this blog. That is 100% to do with me dumping all my productivity (and creativity) into my NaNoWriMo project, still falling behind on said project because of other life things, and then burning out so completely that I basically just play PS4 and eat cheese sticks now . . .

Sadly, I’m only medium kidding.

In any case, somewhere during this electro-entertainment and fried dairy fueled malaise, I managed to blog about The Island of Dr. Moreau and promised a review of another work which was inspired by, and in conversation with that original piece.

That work is Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s The Daughter of Doctor Moreau, and this is that review.

Buckle up.

Ok. That may have been a bit more dramatic than intended (I’m still coming down off a fried cheese high), but in all seriousness, TDoDM was quite an enjoyable book, and for almost none of the reasons (nor any of the flaws) that the original by H.G. Wells is considered a classic.

It is seeming safer and safer to say that any book by Moreno-Garcia, is at the very least going to be a well told story. With stand-out successes in many different genres, including Mexican Gothic (which is my favorite so far though sadly unreviewed on my blog), Gods of Jade and Shadow, and Velvet Was the Night, she’s earned well-deserved acclaim and renown from a variety of sources (awards).

In general Moreno-Garcia’s method seems to be, find a genre or literary tradition that is heavily steeped in the white anglo saxon protestant point of view, and then to subvert as many tropes as possible, while re-centering the novel so that it is told from what was viewed as the ‘other’ in the original tradition. This is used to brilliant effect against the “British Gothic Novel” in Mexican Gothic.

In The Daughter of Dr. Moreau, the flip happens in inventing a female lead (Carlota; the daughter), and giving voice to the hybrids. The final pin falls into place with TDoDM’s setting in the Yucatan Peninsula during a real historical conflict of the late 1800s between native Mayan people, and Hispanic colonial populations.

And if all of that wasn’t enough, there is a love triangle between our naïve heroine, a young (but IMHO slimy) Mexican prince, and an older British mayordomo (who’s mostly a bitter drunk).

I’ll admit that the historical, feminist, and anti-colonialist context of the story only registered on a surface level for me as I was reading, but became much more interesting and meaningful as I researched for this review. Do check out Nerds of a Feather’s post: Review: The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno-Garcia as I think they did an excellent job deconstructing everything.

What I was mostly aware of while reading, was how it related to H.G. Well’s classic, of which I felt the Moreno-Garcia’s adaptation corrected many of the things I didn’t like about the original, mostly all the racism.

This is not to say that the story washes away these elements, but instead brings them to the forefront of the tale, and seems to show us how one can write a nuanced story about the topic. In simpler terms: This is how you can write non-white characters, create tension and suspense, and not sound like a total racist.

It was a point of view I enjoyed immensely.

So . . . Give This One a Read?

Absolutely. Even if you don’t care about any of the historical, feminist, and anti-colonialist themes highlighted above, Moreno-Garcia still writes an immersive world, with well realized characters, and quite a bit of action. My only complaint was that the story felt like it dragged a tad towards the very end, with perhaps just one twist too many which seemed to lead the story off-track a bit, but it did get back, and finished quite strong, all things considered.

With everything mentioned above, and Moreno-Garcia’s previous notoriety and awards, I suspect there will be a good deal of talk about this book come Hugo time in 2023, and I wouldn’t mind at all if it got a nod, although I’m still hoping to finish some other titles from 2022 before making up my mind if it should take the rocket.

That’s all I have so far. Has anyone read this novel? What did you think? What was your favorite part? Please leave your answers in the comments. I hope to have a good discussion on this one, as it was a great book to read!

See you next time!


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