I received an ARC of This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee from Harper Teen for an honest review.
It’s set in a steampunk version of Europe in 1816, mostly in Genevia, Switzerland. The main character, Alasdair Finch, was loosely based off the student of Victor Frankenstein in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, however the intentions that Alasdair has for resurrecting his brother, Oliver Finch, are different from Frankenstein’s. The depth of the brothers’ relationship cuts down deep, so deep that Alasdair felt he couldn’t live without his brother after Oliver’s fall from the clock tower. Mystery and lies shroud the night of Oliver’s death up until the climax at the end.
Another thing that drives the story is the inclusion of Mary Shelley as a character. Mary becomes a friend of the brothers at the beginning of the summer before Oliver’s death and resurrection. Lee has given her an active role and voice in This Monstrous Thing. It was refreshing to see Mary, as well as dislike her for things she did and didn’t do whenever she popped into a scene. It actually shed light on what Mary’s life had been like at the time that she wrote Frankenstein because of course she publishes Frankenstein within This Monstrous Thing, at first anonymously (as she had in reality), then republished it under her own name. I thought Mackenzi Lee wrote in Mary Shelley so well in being as true to what we know of Shelley’s past and inserting into this fictitious world.
It was also refreshing to read a novel without any romance. There were friendships, whether newly formed, or otherwise frayed and broken. I thought some of the side characters were just as strong and relevant to the story as the main characters who were driving it were. Over all, great novel and I highly recommend it, especially if you’re looking for a new release to read this fall and/or October. It just hit book stores today, so check it out.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars