In 1818 Geneva, men built with clockwork parts live hidden away from society, cared for only by illegal mechanics called Shadow Boys. Two years ago, Shadow Boy Alasdair Finch’s life shattered to bits.
His brother, Oliver—dead.
His sweetheart, Mary—gone.
His chance to break free of Geneva—lost.
Heart-broken and desperate, Alasdair does the unthinkable: He brings Oliver back from the dead.
But putting back together a broken life is more difficult than mending bones and adding clockwork pieces. Oliver returns more monster than man, and Alasdair’s horror further damages the already troubled relationship.
Then comes the publication of Frankenstein and the city intensifies its search for Shadow Boys, aiming to discover the real life doctor and his monster. Alasdair finds refuge with his idol, the brilliant Dr. Geisler, who may offer him a way to escape the dangerous present and his guilt-ridden past, but at a horrible price only Oliver can pay…
Ever since I heard that This Monstrous Thing is a reimagining of Frankenstein, I knew I had to pick it up. I love stories and history set in the 19th century, and with the inclusion of clockwork automatons and steampunk elements, it just brings me back to one of my favorite series, The Infernal Devices. I’m happy to say that Mackenzie Lee’s creation of a debut was a success (pun intended).
A CREATIVE REIMAGINING
The Frankenstein story written by Mary Shelley Black itself is integrated in This Monstrous Thing; Lee is able to create a story of resurrection around it that parallels the original story skillfully and seamlessly. I was engaged in the story the entire time. Lee also moves from before the resurrection to after the resurrection really smoothly and I appreciate the ease of storytelling she is able to execute in the story.
In addition to an entertaining plot surrounding Frankenstein, there are some important themes I noticed, and thus adore that Lee includes them. She includes themes such as:
+ humans are all monstrous creatures
+ humans have either good or clever intentions
+ what is considered “monstrous”?
I really do appreciate when authors explore themes and ideas thoroughly, especially if it’s in a different time period (in this case, the early 19th century) because it reveals the progression – or lack thereof – of humanity and our knowledge.
A FEW TINY THINGS WERE OFF…
Aside from the fantastic plot and engaging themes, there are a few little things that threw me off in This Monstrous Thing:
+ the characters’ dialogue sounds very modern. I’m not 100% sure how people spoke in the early 19th century, but I know it doesn’t sound quite like the way the characters spoke in This Monstrous Thing.
+ I was hoping for a whole lot more creepiness. Being a reimagining of Frankenstein, I was expecting chills and goose-bumps; alas, I felt very few to none.
+ it could have been a bit more atmospheric. This ties into the fact that it isn’t quite creepy enough.
HIGHLY RECOMMEND FOR OCTOBER
Overall, I enjoyed This Monstrous Thing a lot, and still think it’s perfect for the month of October. It’s by all means not a perfect story, but it’s certainly entertaining and quite thought-provoking in terms of inherent monstrosity in humans. I highly recommend This Monstrous Thing!