This Monstrous Thing
Katherine Tegen Books
September 22, 2015
(links after review - following book trailer)
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…
After reading A Fatal Likeness a book about the book Frankenstein and the life of its author, I loved reading a book that sort of flipped that and gave us an idea of how something Frankenstein-like could have happened.
I liked Alasdair Finch from the first line of This Monstrous Thing ("My brother's heart was heavy in my hands."). He's the good, younger son: helping his father, minding his mother. But he's also keeping a potentially (very) dangerous secret: his brother Oliver is not as dead as his family believes. Unable to lose his brother, Alasdair brought Oliver back to life.
Only it doesn't seem to be the same Oliver.
The blending of Oliver's struggles - his guilt, his uncertainty, his ambition - and the anti-Clockwork climate of Geneva work really well together. It makes his keeping Oliver hidden away easier to explain, to rationalize.
I liked the politics of this sort of steampunk nineteenth century Geneva. Why there are all of these people, men especially, in need of clockwork additions/repairs/replacements to different body parts was intelligent and creative. It gives Alasdair and Oliver's story a richer backdrop and creates a much fuller story.
It isn't only Alasdair's trouble deciding what's right in regards to Oliver, his future and Alasdair's future; it is all part of a much bigger picture.
The mix of real, factual history (surrounding Frankenstein) and its inclusion in the imagined history was done incredibly well. Things that didn't actually happen present fantastic, believeable explanations/basis for things that did, actually, happen
I really loved the progression the characters took, in their relationships with each other but also who they were and what we knew of them, how they saw themselves and where the novel left them. He questions the story - and characters - pose about what constitutes a 'monster' and what makes a man good are thought provoking and well illustrated.
Other Books You Might Also Enjoy: A Fatal Likeness by Lynn Shepherd and Ilusionarium by Heather Dixon
digital review copy received, via Edelweiss, from publisher
Robert Sheehan as Alasdair Finch
Aidan Turner as Oliver Finch
David Kelly as Bronson Finch
Ed Begley, Jr as Dr Geisler
Emily Browning as Clemence
"The fight in him that I had once admired had been transformed from glowing and bright into something you could fall and cut yourself on, and that was what was left of him - a man I didn't know who wore his ill-fitting skin and spoke in his voice. My brother, obliterated by himself." (arc, 10%)
Follow the This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee Blog Tour and don't miss anything! Click on the banner to see the tour schedule.
Mackenzi Lee holds a BA in history and an MFA from Simmons College in writing for children and young adults. She loves Diet Coke, sweater weather, and Star Wars. On a perfect day, she can be found enjoying all three. She currently lives in Boston, where she works as a bookseller and almost never reanimates corpses. Almost.
Blog Tour Prize Pack (US ONLY):
One winner will receive...
A hardcover copy of THIS MONSTROUS THING
A pair of Frankenstein socks
A copy of the Color Your Own Graphic Novel Frankenstein
THIS MONSTROUS THING postcards, bookmarks, and buttons