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THE DAUGHTER OF DOCTOR MOREAU

A fun literary remix.

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.

Pub Date: July 19, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35533-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Del Rey

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2022

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THE WOMEN

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

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A young woman’s experience as a nurse in Vietnam casts a deep shadow over her life.

When we learn that the farewell party in the opening scene is for Frances “Frankie” McGrath’s older brother—“a golden boy, a wild child who could make the hardest heart soften”—who is leaving to serve in Vietnam in 1966, we feel pretty certain that poor Finley McGrath is marked for death. Still, it’s a surprise when the fateful doorbell rings less than 20 pages later. His death inspires his sister to enlist as an Army nurse, and this turn of events is just the beginning of a roller coaster of a plot that’s impressive and engrossing if at times a bit formulaic. Hannah renders the experiences of the young women who served in Vietnam in all-encompassing detail. The first half of the book, set in gore-drenched hospital wards, mildewed dorm rooms, and boozy officers’ clubs, is an exciting read, tracking the transformation of virginal, uptight Frankie into a crack surgical nurse and woman of the world. Her tensely platonic romance with a married surgeon ends when his broken, unbreathing body is airlifted out by helicopter; she throws her pent-up passion into a wild affair with a soldier who happens to be her dead brother’s best friend. In the second part of the book, after the war, Frankie seems to experience every possible bad break. A drawback of the story is that none of the secondary characters in her life are fully three-dimensional: Her dismissive, chauvinistic father and tight-lipped, pill-popping mother, her fellow nurses, and her various love interests are more plot devices than people. You’ll wish you could have gone to Vegas and placed a bet on the ending—while it’s against all the odds, you’ll see it coming from a mile away.

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781250178633

Page Count: 480

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2023

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HAPPY PLACE

A wistfully nostalgic look at endings, beginnings, and loving the people who will always have your back.

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Exes pretend they’re still together for the sake of their friends on their annual summer vacation.

Wyn Connor and Harriet Kilpatrick were the perfect couple—until Wyn dumped Harriet for reasons she still doesn’t fully understand. They’ve been part of the same boisterous friend group since college, and they know that their breakup will devastate the others and make things more than a little awkward. So they keep it a secret from their friends and families—in fact, Harriet barely even admits it to herself, focusing instead on her grueling hours as a surgical resident. She’s ready for a vacation at her happy place—the Maine cottage she and her friends visit every summer. But (surprise!) Wyn is there too, and he and Harriet have to share a (very romantic) room and a bed. Telling the truth about their breakup is out of the question, because the cottage is up for sale, and this is the group’s last hurrah. Determined to make sure everyone has the perfect last trip, Harriet and Wyn resolve to fake their relationship for the week. The problem with this plan, of course, is that Harriet still has major feelings for Wyn—feelings that only get stronger as they pretend to be blissfully in love. As always, Henry’s dialogue is sparkling and the banter between characters is snappy and hilarious. Wyn and Harriet’s relationship, shown both in the past and the present, feels achingly real. Their breakup, as well as their complicated relationships with their own families, adds a twinge of melancholy, as do the relatable growing pains of a group of friends whose lives are taking them in different directions.

A wistfully nostalgic look at endings, beginnings, and loving the people who will always have your back.

Pub Date: April 25, 2023

ISBN: 9780593441275

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: Feb. 23, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2023

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