Friday 30 October 2015

Clare Reviews: This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee

This Monstrous ThingTitle: This Monstrous Thing
Author: Mackenzi Lee 
Pages: 365
Format: Hardback
Rating: 3.5/5
Blurb: 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…

"There are monsters inside all of us, clockwork men no more so than the rest. None of us are made to be one thing or another."
I love re-tellings. There's something about twisting and re-creating a story that really appeals to me and Frankenstein was such a good choice for a retelling. That said I was expecting something a little darker from this story.

I really liked the exploration of humanity. The question of whether Oliver really was still human or was now a monster was an interesting one. However Oliver was only present for a tiny portion of the story. The world set up by the author was fascinating and I loved the whole concept of the clockwork people. But the story being told by Alasdair, a wholly flesh and blood person meant this side didn't get as explored as it could have done. 

Alasdair was a good character but I wasn't excited by his story and his thoughts. I wanted more of Oliver, and of Clemence. This story told from Oliver's perspective would be an entirely different, and from my point of view more exciting, novel. Oliver entirely dominated every scene he was in and I loved the way he was written. Clemence was compelling and sympathetic and I would love to know where she goes in the future and what she does. As interesting as it was to see whether Alasdair was a good person or not, I never really felt any trepidation about it. He annoyed me at times but I didn't doubt him being good at heart.

The plot was a compelling one and I enjoyed being pulled along by the story. There wasn't really a villain as such but there was Dr. Geisler who could possibly have crossed the boundary into absolute creepy insanity. And the Detective who despised clockwork men and really sounded like quite a lot of religious fanatics, which was scary in a whole different and more familiar way. 

With the blurb and the fact that this was a Frankenstein re-telling I was expecting something dark and disturbing, something that would make me question the humanity of everyone involved which I didn't quite get. Ironically Oliver seemed to me one of the most human of the characters. I did like the ending of this book and I kind of wish there was going to be a sequel or a spin-off (preferably following Oliver or Clemence please) because it would be interesting to see the rest of this world Mackenzi Lee created, particularly the parts where clockwork people are more accepted.

Overall I did enjoy reading Alasdair's story and I really liked the relationships between the characters, I just wish there had been a bit more darkness to the story.

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  1. I think I enjoyed the fact that it had the author of the book as a character. :)

    1. I agree, I definitely liked that the author was a character although I am not sure how much I really liked the author as a character. It was definitely interesting to have a different motive for the author to have written Frankenstein! Thanks for visiting