Dover Book

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Imagine your worst nightmare. . .

    Told in the first person, Edward Prendick narrates his, beginning with the wreck of the Lady Vain, then finding himself in a dinghy with two other men. Starving and dying of thirst, soon Prendick alone remains, expecting death, but waking up to find he has been rescued and is in the hands of a person who brings him back to health. As his recovery progresses, he learns that his caretaker, Montgomery, is traveling with a black beastly looking being who does not seem to be quite human, although he behaves in a human-like manner. The captain of the vessel is a foul and violent drunk who has agreed to transport them along with a strange menagerie of caged and chained creatures.
    As Prendick regains his consciousness and memory, he realizes the end of his nightmare may not be over, and when the solitary island is reached, the destination of the ship's passengers, the Captain orders him off. Montgomery and a white-haired man who has joined him to help unload, agree that they cannot allow Prendick to come ashore. He is therefore thrown back into his dinghy, which has been towed along by the ship, with no provisions or means to navigate.
    He eventually does drift to shore, where the island inhabitants take pity on him. Reluctantly, he is given food, clothing and shelter by Montgomery and the white-haired man, who he learns is Dr. Moreau, but is given no information about the activities on the island, and is barred from entering the building where the men work. Soon afterwards, he begins to hear the screams of the animals who are part of the hideous experiment, and realizes that his fate is far worse than dying on a drifting boat.
    The rest of the story relates his gradual discovery of the grotesque and hideous creatures that are being created through vivisection, grafting body parts from one animal to another without anesthesia. Moreau, in his obsessive quest to create "beast-folk"—animals with human traits, has gone just short of mad. Though Prendick eventually is convinced that he is in no danger—that Moreau never uses humans in his experiments, he also realizes there is no escape. Terror and agony increase, as the experiments go terribly wrong, and in an explosion of final events, Prendick finds himself trapped in nothing short of living hell. This is Wells at his best, and will keep you gripping the edge until the very end.


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