cover image The Daughter of Doctor Moreau

The Daughter of Doctor Moreau

Silvia Moreno-Garcia. Del Rey, $28 (320p) ISBN 978-0-593-35533-6

In this thorny riff on The Island of Doctor Moreau, bestseller Moreno-Garcia (Mexican Gothic) interweaves several threads in 19th-century Mexico. Carlota, the naive daughter of a mad scientist bent on creating a race of hybrid animal-humans in remote Yaxaktun, strains against the boundaries of her life as she searches for love and connection beyond the world her father has engineered to contain her; Montgomery, a caretaker who self-medicates with alcohol in order to cope with a tragic past, pines for Carlota even as she explores her attraction to Eduardo, the spoiled aristocratic son of her father’s benefactor; and the hybrid creatures created by the eponymous doctor struggle to maintain their autonomy and personhood as the forces surrounding them attempt to subjugate their wills for their own ends. Moreno-Garcia’s worldbuilding chops are on display as she creates a distinct, vibrant backdrop to her audacious retelling. The prose, however, exhibits a cold remove that occasionally makes it difficult to remain invested in the action, and though the characters’ arcs reach satisfying conclusions, wonky pacing makes the work of reaching them a challenge. The third act rights the ship, however, with an ending that will linger long in readers’ minds. Fans of cerebral, atmospheric historical horror won’t want to miss this. Agent: Eddie Schneider, JABberwocky Literary. (July)