Long time, no see on this space yadayada…let’s get straight to business. I couldn’t let this year go by without publishing this review, I’d be in so much trouble with myself if I did.
In July, I devoured SMGs new novel because A. I had been waiting for months to read it, B. Of course I’m gonna binge any SMG book and C. I was leaving on vacation in a week so I literally had a time limit.
I think I finished it in about 4 days. It would have been less, but I also had packing and stuff to do for said vacation…but the point is I finished and no surprise here: I LOVED IT!
Was I little nervous because it was inspired by a classic novel never read…maybe? But did I do a quick Wiki search to summarize the plot? Yes, and that greatly alleviated any anxieties I had. Although, I must say that you do not need to do any of that extra homework to love and experience this book.
Because the master craft of SMG alone is experience enough!
A lavish 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.
The Daughter of Doctor Moreau is both a dazzling historical novel and a daring science fiction journey.
We’re gonna start with THE CHARACTERS because I am a character-gal and in this book you either gotta love them or hate them.
Carlota is an interesting star of the show. She is a naïve child, ignorant of the darker schemes around her with dad issues on another level, an intelligent and curious soul by her own right and a little spoiled as well. I cannot say that I loved her, but she has her moments and we vibed! I think her relationship with her dad was just one of the most interesting parts of the book. You can really feel how torn she is in both having affection for him, but also knowing that he is just an utter dick.
Montgomery was also interesting. Despite being a 2nd POV, I felt he had an observational quality to him. He was in the background, he had the “I just work here” energy, until he gets too emotionally involved and things get complicated. We love to see complicated 👏
Basically, there is an abundance of character to see in this book. The god-complex striken Doctor had me rolling my eyes, he was insufferable, but in a good way that meant I loved to hate him. A gang of hybrids stole my heart, especially the snarky hybrid girl inching for freedom. Now that bratty aristocrat with his posse of even brattier misogynistic brutes… blegh, just blegh. Like I said, there is lots.
However, my favourite, favourite part of this book was not the cast of characters, but THE JUNGLE! 🌿 I don’t think I have ever said this before, but Jungle settings are where it’s at! Come and immerse yourself in this isolated hacienda where mysteries and rebellions and talking human-animals stir! I could really be reading into the book too much, but setting is itself is like a character. Carlota’s whole world starts and ends in this secluded piece of land with its wonders and secrets. I wouldn’t say it’s living, but the life that it holds makes it such an important place in the novel…until it doesn’t hold that life anymore.
And finally, THE CONS AND CONS of thinking you can play with science and religion, life and death without thinking of consequence are at the heart of this novel. No, that is not a typo. Much like the original novel touched on the topic of “playing God,” SMG also does a dive into this messy and chaotic world of humans both scientific and non-scientific thinking they can own and control another being’s existence.
I also want to point out that the history of 1880s Mexico is such a pivotal branch of this novel. Even though Carlota and her family lived far from the mainland cities, they were not exempt from any of the policies that strained life at the time. The novel explores how people had to contest against the cruelties and disparities of a racist, misogynistic caste system, even far from the city. As a reader you see the invasion of the corrupt city into this little hacienda, but also makes you realize that this invasion is only amplifying what already existed within the confines of the Doctor’s domain. Of course, the novel doesn’t keep us limited to the doom and gloom because resistance thrived then, like it does now.
4.5 / 5 Stars
I will 10/10 be recommending this to EVERYONE as I always do. Thank you very much.