book review · four stars

This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee || Frankenstein and Frankenstein’s Monster

IMG_3553In 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…(Synopsis taken from Goodreads)

I lunged upon this book with greedy hands (and a rather embarrassing squeal) when I checked my hold shelf at the library and found it.  I had been looking forward to reading this since I learned about it (but was too broke to buy it).

It didn’t QUITE meet up to my expectations, but was close.

About two years before the book officially starts, Alasdair and his best friend, Mary, resurrect Alasdair’s brother, Oliver, using a mix of steampunk-y gears and actual organs. Oliver was killed in an accident, but he had been apprenticing under an eccentric scientist who had a theory of how to resurrect someone, but Alasdair is the one who actually figured out how it worked.

Alasdair, is, in a word, brilliant. But not in tradition terms. He can work wonders with machines, and because of this, he is one of a secret orginization called the Shadow Boys; a group that replaces missing or seriously injured limbs or organs with mechanical pieces. The people that this is done to are considered abominations, and are extremely cruelly treated. Alasdair and his family would be arrested at best if it was found out they were Shadow Boys, are worst they would be put to death, even though it isn’t against the law.

Oliver, who is Frankenstein’s monster in this story, is hidden away in an abandoned castle. He’s very much bitter about his death, and also about the fact that Alasdair brought him back. He believes that he’s a monster, and that he still shouldn’t be alive.

Alasdair is already worried enough about Oliver, and then Frankenstein is published. Once Alasdair actually gets around to reading it, he notices something. The novel Frankenstein is very much chronicling what he did to Oliver.

This book is set in Victorian England, except it’s kind of steam punk (I say kind of because there’s only really the clockwork men, no crazy airships or mechanical creatures). The worldbuilding was FABULOUS, let me just say that. Despite people having lungs and hearts made of paper and wire, everything felt completely REAL and like it could actually be a part of history.

And omg Clemence. Clemence was awesome. Smart and stubborn and ladylike all at the same time, AND SHE WASN’T ALASDAIR’S LOVE INTEREST, which was extremely refreshing, but they still had a really good relationship. It just wasn’t romantic. It was also interesting because the further I read, the more I got the sense that Alasdair wasn’t Dr. Frankenstein, not truly. He was the one who resurrected Oliver, but he was not the evil scientist of the story.

Basically, I didn’t really have any problems with this book. The only reason I’m not giving it five stars is because it just didn’t have that “zing” that a five star book would have.

FourStarsSo! How do you guys feel about steampunk-y retellings? Do you like them? Is This Monstrous Thing on your TBR, or have you already read it? And, how’s NaNoWriMo going for you? Are you reaching you 1,667 words?

Happy Friday,

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