Media Type: Ebook (ARC)
Title: This Monstrous Thing
Author: Mackenzi Lee
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Pages: Kindle; 384
Release Date: September 22, 2015
Source: Publisher / NetGalley
Content Screening: Mild Violence
HDB Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart
Recommended to: Readers who enjoy reimaginings of classic stories, and love vivid characters.
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…
Fans of both Steampunk novels, and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, are going to adore this book. I can tell you that right now. I would know, seeing as how I fit right into that category as well. While I knew this was a retelling, going in, I had no idea that there was also a Steampunk aspect attached to it. Needless to say, it was a rather pleasant surprise! That ended up being one of the many things I really enjoyed about this book.
This Monstrous Thing sets us in the middle 1818 Geneva. Alasdair, our protagonist, has grown up as a "Shadow Boy", or part of the group who help "repair" injured people through the use of clockwork. Which, as you might imagine, is rather frowned upon by the general public. Their work is seen as against God, and is therefore illegal. So, our young protagonist has to no choice but to operate in the shadows. Let me tell you, I fell in love with young Alasdair from page one. He's so smart, so inherently kind, and yet has the analytical mind of a scientist. I loved that he, buried in a sea of sheep, was the one who thought for himself.
What progresses from here is a story that skims along the edge of its source material. While This Monstrous Thing is a reimagining of Frankenstein, it happily takes off on its own course. There are some brilliant discussions of morality, of death, and even of the bonds between family members. Mary Shelley herself makes her debut, and the relationship between her and Alasdair was just perfection to me. In fact, I adored the fact that there was no romance front and center, to steal the stage. Having a protagonist who can meet a female character, and have a platonic relationship with her, is generally rather rare. I'm glad there wasn't any of that to muck up Alasdair's destiny.
This book is quick paced. It's vividly written, and easily the type of story that you won't want to set aside until it's over. The historical part of all of this meshes perfectly with the fictional side, creating a book that it just a treat to read! I'm impressed, and I'm genuinely hoping that there's more out there somewhere.
FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.