This book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review.
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…
This Monstrous Thing was everything I wanted in a Frankenstein retelling/reworking. The story was evenly paced and pulled enough from history that it felt plausible. Lee took the classic storyline and added a mechanical element (dare I say steampunk?) and the complexities of a sibling relationship.
The setting was so eerie and vivid it was easy to visualize the time period as well as the setting. I loved all the little details that were included in the descriptions. I have never honestly considered the idea of bringing someone back to life with mechanics though the way Lee presented it along with medical know how it all seemed incredibly realistic.
In this world those that have had mechanical elements added to themselves are looked down upon and considered nearly evil and a stain on God’s creation. The vast societal gap between this created between characters was incredibly interesting and beautifully executed.
Lee eloquently questioned what makes someone human and how much does our own medical tinkering impact this. I loved the questions the characters dealt with as well as how much it led me to consider things on my own as I read. Even with such deep questions being asked and addressed this story moved at a fast pace and there were some very tense action sequences. I don’t think anyone will have trouble becoming entranced with the story-line.
Where this book really shone for me was with the main character, Alasdair. I loved how he suffered from guilt, self loathing yet ambition. He wrestled with his own decisions and choices and questioned himself. I found his character to be so incredibly complex.
His relationships with all of those around him were also a major draw for me, especially with him and his brother. I found the love between the brothers realistic as well as touching. Though these two love one another they aren’t free of sibling rivalry or a touch of jealousy.
I really loved reading about Alasdair’s self discovery and growth. He changed a good amount from the beginning of the novel to the end. I felt that this gradual growth was really one of the best aspects of the novel.
Lee didn’t disappoint with her secondary characters either. They were all well executed, detailed and unique. I felt that she gave them all depth and complexity.
What an impressive book This Monstrous Thing was! Not only were the characters well developed but Lee’s grasp of history and her ability to provide a detailed and rich setting provided a wonderful reading experience. I’d highly recommend this one to anyone with an interest in historical fiction.