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The Daughter of Doctor Moreau

The Daughter of Doctor Moreau

by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Narrated by Gisela Chípe

Unabridged — 11 hours, 39 minutes

Silvia Moreno-Garcia
The Daughter of Doctor Moreau

The Daughter of Doctor Moreau

by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Narrated by Gisela Chípe

Unabridged — 11 hours, 39 minutes

Silvia Moreno-Garcia

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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER ¿ From the bestselling author of Mexican Gothic and Velvet Was the Night comes a lavish historical drama reimagining of The Island of Doctor Moreau set against the backdrop of nineteenth-century Mexico.

“This is historical science fiction at its best: a dreamy reimagining of a classic story with vivid descriptions of lush jungles and feminist themes. Some light romance threads through the heavier ethical questions concerning humanity.”-Library Journal (starred review)

“The imagination of Silvia Moreno-Garcia is a thing of wonder, restless and romantic, fearless in the face of genre, embracing the polarities of storytelling-the sleek and the bizarre, wild passions and deep hatreds-with cool equanimity.”-The New York Times (Editors' Choice)

Carlota Moreau: A young woman growing up on a distant and luxuriant estate, safe from the conflict and strife of the Yucatán peninsula. The only daughter of a researcher who is 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 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 live in a perfectly balanced and static world, which is jolted by the abrupt arrival of Eduardo Lizalde, the charming and careless son of Dr. 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.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly


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)

From the Publisher

The imagination of Silvia Moreno-Garcia is a thing of wonder, restless and romantic, fearless in the face of genre, embracing the polarities of storytelling— the sleek and the bizarre, wild passions and deep hatreds—with cool equanimity.”The New York Times

“If there are two things I love in this world, it’s contemporary reimaginings of Victorian era horror and sci-fi, and joyful genre mashups in literature. Thank the Lord, then, for Silvia Moreno-Garcia, the author of the 1970s Mexico City noir Velvet Was the Night and the postcolonial gothic romance Mexican Gothic, who brings her chameleonic powers to bear on H. G. Wells’s 1896 ‘exercise in youthful blasphemy.’”Lit Hub

“The brilliant and unstoppable Silvia Moreno-Garcia continues to weave her magic in The Daughter of Doctor Moreau, a smart, sinister fable about social inequality and exploitation, isolation and abuse of power. Both lacerating and deeply empathetic, this story satisfies the reader on every page.”—Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife and When the Stars Go Dark

“Silvia Moreno-Garcia goes from strength to strength. The Daughter of Doctor Moreau is my favorite of her novels so far—a gothic tour de force with characters who will keep you glued to the page, and a series of satisfying, surprising riffs on Wells’s original story.”—Kelly Link, author of Get in Trouble

“Beautiful, feral, and as sharp as a jaguar's claws . . . I felt the anger and hope in this story down to my very bones. Truly, Silvia Moreno-Garcia is a virtuoso of the anti-imperialist gothic novel.”—Annalee Newitz, author of Autonomous and Four Lost Cities: A Secret History of the Urban Age

“With intelligence, energy, and unexpected tenderness, Silvia Moreno-Garcia takes on Wells’s classic tale of scientific hubris. At once playful and deadly serious, The Daughter of Doctor Moreau is an irresistible and thoroughly satisfying novel.”—Valerie Martin, author of Property and I Give It to You
“Lush, eerie, and compulsively readable, this story got under my skin and stayed there.”—Alexis Henderson author of The Year of the Witching and House of Hunger

“Moreno-Garcia’s previous work has spanned genres—horror in Mexican Gothic (2020), noir in Velvet Was the Night (2021)—and in this volume, she deftly combines fantasy, adventure, and even romance. A fun literary remix.”Kirkus Reviews

“This wholly new novel paints a vivid picture that is as alluring as it is unsettling, filled with action, romance, and monsters. Readers will fall into this tale immediately, enchanted.”Booklist (starred review)

“Moreno-Garcia’s worldbuilding chops are on display as she creates a distinct, vibrant backdrop to her audacious retelling. . . . Fans of cerebral, atmospheric historical horror won’t want to miss this.”Publishers Weekly

Library Journal

★ 07/02/2022

Inspired by H.G. Wells's The Island of Doctor Moreau, Moreno-Garcia's (Velvet Was the Night) new novel takes place in 1870s Yucatán, Mexico, and focuses on Carlota, the daughter of the eccentric scientist Doctor Moreau, whose life's ambition is to improve humanity through creating hybrids between man and beast and is dependent on an increasingly stingy Hernando Lizalde for funds. Carlota lives in isolation with the doctor, his hybrids, and Montgomery, the estate's caretaker, who is also desperately in love with her. Their lives change when Lizalde's son Eduardo stumbles across the hacienda, ignorant of the doctor's work, and falls in love with Carlota. The doctor is eager for them to marry in secret, cementing his needed funding, but in doing so puts the hybrids at risk. When Carlota begins to question her father's experiments, she must also face her past and her very nature. VERDICT This is historical science fiction at its best: a dreamy reimagining of a classic story with vivid descriptions of lush jungles and feminist themes. Some light romance threads through the heavier ethical questions concerning humanity. Readers of Isabel Cañas's The Hacienda will be drawn in by the setting and themes; fans of other classic remixes, such as Megan Shepherd's The Madman's Daughter, will also enjoy.—Mara Shatat

Kirkus Reviews

A new spin on the H.G. Wells classic from the genre-hopping Mexican Canadian novelist.

Young 19th-century woman Carlota Moreau has spent her whole life in Yaxaktun, a ranch in northern Yucatán, Mexico, and that’s just fine with her: “I feel as if Yaxaktun is a beautiful dream and I wish to dream it forever,” she tells a visitor to the isolated property. She lives there with her beloved father, Dr. Moreau, whom she considers “the sun in the sky, lighting her days.” They’re not the only ones on the ranch, however—it’s populated by Dr. Moreau’s “hybrids,” part human and part animal, the results of the doctor’s bizarre experiments. Looming over everything is Hernando Lizalde, Dr. Moreau’s patron, who bankrolls the doctor’s laboratory in hopes that he’ll eventually create hybrids that are fit to work on his haciendas, but he seldom visits the ranch. On one of those visits, he brings along Montgomery, a self-loathing, hard-drinking English hunter whom Dr. Moreau hopes to hire as a mayordomo, an overseer of the property and its hybrids. Montgomery takes the job, and six years later things begin to fall apart: Hernando loses patience with the doctor’s slow pace, and his son, Eduardo, visits the ranch and falls for Carlota; the results of their relationship threaten to destroy everything Dr. Moreau has worked for. Meanwhile, Carlota begins to question her adored father’s experiments; the doctor acknowledges the creatures suffer greatly but insists that “pain must be endured, for without it there’d be no sweetness.” Moreno-Garcia’s novel starts a little slowly, but there’s a reason for that—the setup is crucial to the book’s action-packed second half, and the payoff is worth it. Moreno-Garcia’s previous work has spanned genres—horror in Mexican Gothic (2020), noir in Velvet Was the Night (2021)—and in this volume, she deftly combines fantasy, adventure, and even romance; the result is hard to classify but definitely a lot of fun. This isn’t the first book to riff on H.G. Wells’ The Island of Doctor Moreau (1896), but it’s definitely one of the better ones.

A fun literary remix.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940178694442
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Publication date: 07/19/2022
Edition description: Unabridged

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1


They’d be arriving that day, the two gentlemen, their boat gliding through the forest of mangroves. The jungle teemed with noises, birds crying out in sonorous discontent as if they could foretell the approach of intruders. In their huts, behind the main house, the hybrids were restless. Even the old donkey, eating its corn, seemed peevish.

Carlota had spent a long time contemplating the ceiling of her room the previous night, and in the morning her belly ached like it always did when she was nervous. Ramona had to brew her a cup of bitter orange tea. Carlota didn’t like when her nerves got the best of her, but Dr. Moreau seldom had visitors. Their isolation, her father said, did her good. When she was little she’d been ill, and it was important that she rest and remain calm. Besides, the hybrids made proper company impossible. When someone stopped at Yaxaktun it was either Francisco Ritter, her father’s lawyer and correspondent, or Hernando Lizalde.

Mr. Lizalde always came alone. Carlota was never introduced to him. Twice she’d seen him walking from afar, outside the house, with her father. He left quickly; he didn’t stay the night in one of the guest rooms. And he didn’t visit often, anyway. His presence was mostly felt in letters, which arrived every few months.

Now Mr. Lizalde, who was a distant presence, a name spoken but never manifested, was visiting and not only visiting but he’d be bringing with him a new mayordomo. For nearly a year since Melquíades had departed, the reins of Yaxaktun had been solely in the hands of the doctor, an inadequate situation since he spent most of his time busy in the lab or deep in contemplation. Her father, however, didn’t seem inclined to find a steward.

“The doctor, he’s too picky,” Ramona said, brushing the tangles and knots out of Carlota’s hair. “Mr. Lizalde, he sends him letters, and he says here’s one gentleman, here’s another, but your father always replies no, this one won’t do, neither will the other. As if many people would come here.”

“Why wouldn’t people want to come to Yaxaktun?” Carlota asked.

“It’s far from the capital. And you know what they say. All of them, they complain it’s too close to rebel territory. They think it’s the end of the world.”

“It’s not that far,” Carlota said, though she only understood the peninsula by the maps in books where distances were flattened and turned into black-­and-­white lines.

“It’s mighty far. Makes most people think twice when they’re used to cobblestones and newspapers each morning.”

“Why did you come to work here, then?”

“My family, they picked me a husband but he was bad. Lazy, did nothing all day, then he beat me at night. I didn’t complain, not for a long time. Then one morning he hit me hard. Too hard. Or maybe as hard as every other time, but I wouldn’t take it any longer. So I grabbed my things and I went away. I came to Yaxaktun because nobody can find you here,” Ramona said with a shrug. “But it’s not the same for others. Others want to be found.”

Ramona was not quite old; the lines fanning her eyes were shallow, and her hair was speckled with a few strands of gray. But she spoke in a measured tone, and she spoke of many things, and Carlota considered her very wise.

“You think the new mayordomo won’t like it here? You think he’ll want to be found?”

“Who can tell? But Mr. Lizalde’s bringing him. It’s Mr. Lizalde who’s ordered it and he’s right. Your father, he does things all day but he never does the things that need done either.” Ramona put the brush down. “Stop fretting, child, you’ll wrinkle the dress.”

The dress in question was decorated with a profusion of frills and pleats, and an enormous bow at the back instead of the neat muslin pinafore she normally wore around the house. Lupe and Cachito were giggling at the doorway, looking at Carlota, as she was primped like a horse before an exhibition.

“You look nice,” Ramona said.

“It itches,” Carlota complained. She thought she looked like a large cake.

“Don’t pull at it. And you two, go wash your faces and those hands,” Ramona said, punctuating her words with one of her deadly stares.

Lupe and Cachito moved aside to let Ramona by as she exited the room, grumbling about all the things she had to do that morning. Carlota sulked. Father said the dress was the latest fashion, but she was used to lighter frocks. It might have looked pretty in Mérida or Mexico City or some other place, but in Yaxaktun it was terribly fussy.

Lupe and Cachito giggled again as they walked into the room and took a closer look at her buttons, touching the taffeta and silk until Carlota elbowed them away, and then they giggled again.

“Stop it, both of you,” she said.

“Don’t be mad, Loti, it’s just you look funny, like one of your dollies,” Cachito said. “But maybe the new mayordomo will bring candy and you’ll like that.”

“I doubt he’ll bring candy,” Carlota said.

“Melquíades brought us candy,” Lupe said, and she sat on the old rocking horse, which was too small for any of them now, and rocked back and forth.

“Brought you candy,” Cachito complained. “He never brought me none.”

“That’s because you bite,” Lupe said. “I’ve never bitten a hand.”

And she hadn’t, that was true. When Carlota’s father had first brought Lupe into the house, Melquíades had made a fuss about it, said the doctor couldn’t possibly leave Carlota alone with Lupe. What if she should scratch the child? But the doctor said not to worry, Lupe was good. Besides, Carlota had wanted a playmate so badly that even if Lupe had bitten and scratched, she wouldn’t have said a word.

But Melquíades never took to Cachito. Maybe because he was more rambunctious than Lupe. Maybe because he was male, and Melquíades could lull himself into a sense of safety with a girl. Maybe because Cachito had once bitten Melquíades’s fingers. It was nothing deep, no more than a scratch, but Melquíades detested the boy, and he never let Cachito into the house.

Then again, Melquíades hadn’t liked any of them much. Ramona had worked for Dr. Moreau since Carlota was about five years old, and Melquíades had been at Yaxaktun before that. But Carlota could not recall him ever smiling at the children or treating them as anything other than a nuisance. When he brought candy back, it was because Ramona asked that he procure a treat for the little ones, not because Melquíades would have thought to do it of his own volition. When they were noisy, he might grumble and tell them to eat a sweet and go away, to be quiet and let him be. There was no affection for the children in his heart.

Ramona loved them and Melquíades tolerated them.

Now Melquíades was gone, and Cachito slipped in and out of the house, darting through the kitchen and the living room with its velvet sofas, even stabbing at the keys of the piano, ringing discordant notes from the instrument when the doctor was not looking. No, the children didn’t miss Melquíades. He’d been fastidious and a bit conceited on account of the fact that he’d been a doctor in Mexico City, which he thought a great achievement.

“I don’t see why we need a new mayordomo,” Lupe said.

“Father can’t manage it all on his own, and Mr. Lizalde wants it all in perfect order,” she said, repeating what she’d been told.

“What does the mister care how he manages it or not? He doesn’t live here.”

Carlota peered into the mirror and fiddled with the pearl necklace, which, like the dress, had been newly imposed on her that morning to assure she looked prim and proper.

Cachito was right: Carlota did resemble one of her dollies, pretty porcelain things set on a shelf with their pink lips and round eyes. But Carlota was not a doll, she was a girl, almost a lady, and it was a bit ridiculous that she must resemble a porcelain, painted creation.

Ever the dutiful child, though, she turned from the mirror and looked at Lupe with a serious face.

“Mr. Lizalde is our patron.”

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