Book: This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee
Release Date: 22 September 2015
Tags: Young Adult / Steampunk / Fantasy / Reanimation / Automatons / Retelling / Frankenstein / Frankenstein Retelling / Sibling relationshiop
Other books by this author I reviewed
The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue
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…
I’ve had This Monstrous Thing on my shelf longer than The Gentleman’s Guide is out, but it wasn’t until my online friend Sarah suggested a buddy read that I picked it up from my shelf. I read Frankenstein last year and wasn’t quite as taken with it as others have been. However I still had some interest in this retelling. First of because I adored the author’s The Gentleman’s Guide and secondly because I am always interested in seeing author’s creativity when it concerns retellings.
This Monstrous Thing was an enjoyable read to a point. It is one of those books you can easily read in a few hours, set aside and not think about anymore. And that is its downfall. There is nothing that special about this book.
Looking back on the book the pacing is off a bit. It is slow and for a good portion of the book nothing happens. There is the event and then the end that hold some action and that is it. I don’t mind slow if there is some strong character development going on but even that wasn’t truly the case here. Even so I think that the book is well written beyond that.
You would think this book would be somewhat about Oliver who returned from the dead. However the most we see him is in memories by Alisdair and a bit in the end. I loved seeing the relationship between the brothers but only seeing it truly through memories wasn’t enough. I wanted their interactions. I wanted to see the real change in Oliver and to see a potential new bond grow between them. But Oliver is so little in this book, that was never possible. Other potentials for deepening out bonds like with his father, were written out of the way conveniently.
Things I did truly like were the steam punk elements in the story. The ability to bring back Oliver laid in clockwork. There were also automatons and other people who had clockwork limbs and parts. I just wanted more on these elements. The way Frankenstein was incorporated into the story I also quite liked. I also enjoyed seeing Alisdair’s growing bond with Clementine. This is pure friendship as Clementine is a lesbian. And while the synopsis might suggest otherwise there is actually very little romance in this book. Mentioned some sure, but mostly through memories.
All in all though this book was a bit of a disappointment. I had higher expectations of the book as a whole after reading The Gentleman’s Guide. But it is still entertaining. And if you liked Frankenstein this will be a fun read.