I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee
Genres: Retelling, Steampunk, Historical
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on September 22nd 2015
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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
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…
My brother’s heart was heavy in my hands.
What I thought of this book
So when I sen this book I will admit that it was the cover that caught my eye, and then the blurb sounded pretty cool. Although it is a bit of a retelling of Frankenstein it is more than that as it is more like a retelling of Mary Shelley herself.
Alasdair loves his brother so much that when an accident happens he uses his knowledge of mechanics and the notes of a Doctor he admires to bring his brother back to life. It’s set in the 1800’s and in the industrial age where there were a lot of inventors making mechanical gadgets. There are men who have invented ways of putting mechanical pieces on humans and they are called Clockwork Men. They are treated as less than human because people see them as an abomination. In Geneva it’s against the law to create these men, so the Shadow Boys (creators) have to do things in secret.
So when Alasdair creates a reanimated man from mechanical parts and brings Oliver back to life he hides him. Oliver isn’t the same brother he knew, he lost something in the reanimation. Alasdair is afraid to let him out in the world because he doesn’t know what he will do, and he is also afraid of what people will do when they see him.
Some one has written a piece of literature that eludes to a mechanical monster, called Frankenstein. A reanimated man who is a monster made from flesh and clockwork parts. Alasdair doesn’t know who has written it but the old doctor that he admires thinks he wrote it and that it’s about him and his brother. He wants Alasdair to help him create such a man, but all Alasdair wants is to protect his brother. Everyone thinks that the book Frankenstein is real and there is a real monster out there and it throws people into a panic.
Though out the book you get flashes of Alasdair and Oliver’s friendship with a young lady, Mary. At the time they meet she is not exactly married but she is running around with Percy Shelley, Byron, etc. If you know anything about Mary Shelley, she had one interesting life. She was not a proper young lady and hanging out with these two boys kind of eludes to that. The author gives us glimpses of the history of Mary Shelley with a little fictional embellishing. In this world Mary is surrounded by clockwork men and shadow boys and that is where she gets her idea for Frankenstein.
Alasdair is a young man with a burden or two on his shoulders, hiding the truth about what happened to his brother and hiding the monster/brother he created from the world and especially his parents. Having his father arrested, a deranged doctor wanting his knowledge and Oliver, the police wanting Oliver, etc. At times he seems wise beyond his years in the fact that he created this reanimated human, but then there are times when he seems younger than his eighteen or so years.
Just like how I always felt sorry for the Frankenstein monster of old, I also felt sorry for Oliver. He didn’t ask to be reanimated and can’t really help the fact he is not the same as before. He had a bit of a temper before so it’s just naturally that it’s amped up a little now that he is a monster. Oliver just wants freedom, he hates that his brother brought him back but now he has to live with who he is and what people think of him.
This Monstrous Thing is an interesting retelling of the author of Frankenstein as well as the monster and is not a fast paced read. There were times when I thought it was really slow and the story wasn’t really going anywhere. (I think I wanted more monster..lol) The last 30% of the story went pretty quick and was my favorite part of the whole story. Even though it was a slow story I did enjoy it mostly because it was a cool retelling and because it had a fictional Mary Shelley in it.
If you like steampunk and retellings you might enjoy this story.