This Monstrous Thing

Mackenzi Lee. HarperCollins/Tegen, $17.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-06-238277-1
Lee’s accomplished first novel envisions an early-19th-century Geneva where clockwork technology is common yet controversial. Alasdair Finch works for his father selling mechanical goods to well-to-do citizens while secretly fixing artificial body parts for those who have them, despite the attached social stigma so-called “mechanicals” suffer. Unbeknownst to his father, Alasdair has used clockwork technology to resurrect Oliver, his dead brother. Oliver looks and feels like a monster, so Alasdair keeps him hidden in a ruined castle outside the city. The only other person who knows of Oliver’s existence is Mary Godwin—or, as history knows her, Mary Shelley. When an anonymous novel called Frankenstein appears, Alasdair is shocked to realize that it’s about his family, and the book fans hatred in Geneva against mechanicals. Lee does a fine job of incorporating Shelley and her illustrious husband into her clockwork universe, which should especially please those familiar with Frankenstein and its author. The characters are suitably tormented, in accordance with Romantic tradition, and occasional language anachronisms (“It was a shitty choice”) are only minor distractions. Ages 13–up. Agent: Rebecca Podos, Rees Literary Agency. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 06/08/2015
Release date: 09/01/2015
Paperback - 400 pages - 978-0-06-238278-8
Ebook - 384 pages - 978-0-06-238279-5
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