This Monstrous Thing
Author: Mackenzi Lee
Publication Date: September 22nd, 2015
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Summary from Goodreads: 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’m going to start off by saying that I’ve never read Frankenstein. Sure, I’ve heard of it, I know the general premise and what it’s about, but I’ve never actually read the book. While you don’t need to read it to read This Monstrous Thing, doing a little research on the author might be helpful (I did this in the middle of the novel because I was quite curious about a few things), and it adds to the entertainment of This Monstrous Thing.
This book is really, really cool. Imagine a steampunk-like, Victorian setting in Geneva, where there are mechanical buses, cars, clocks, etc., as well as men and women walking around with body parts made out of mechanical clockwork (for example, an arm or a leg that is completely clockwork, to replace limbs that they have lost). Alasdair works in a shop with his parents, and follows in his father’s footsteps as someone who creates these types of clockwork parts. He and his brother Oliver were close – and they were also close to their friend, Mary. When Oliver hears the news that he is being sent to study with a very good teacher to study clockwork design and mechanics, he could not be more displeased. Considering this is what Alasdair has always wanted, he cannot understand why Oliver is so upset about getting the chance of a lifetime.
When a horrible accident causes Oliver his life, Alasdair cannot deal with his grief, and he uses notes and his previous experiences and brings Oliver back from the dead by creating clockwork organs and parts for him. However, Alasdair finds that parts of Oliver, such as his memories and his compassion, did not quite make the journey back from the dead, and Oliver isn’t the person that he once was.
When Alasdair’s father is arrested and he is forced to leave his home and join his role model, Dr. Geisler, who promises him safety for him and his brother Oliver. But things aren’t quite what they seem, and Alasdair makes a few disturbing and shocking discoveries about Dr. Geisler, Dr. Geisler’s assistant Clemence, and the author of Frankenstein, a book that was sent to him and that appears to chronicle his attempt at bringing Oliver back from the dead.
While this book was awesome, the only real problem I had with it was the fact that there just wasn’t much interaction with Oliver for the first three quarters of the book. I was hoping that the book would have a lot more encounters with him, since that was what the summary seemed to promise. All in all, though, this book was an creative and amazing science fiction novel, and I recommend it for anyone (whether or not you read Frankenstein)!
Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
About the Author
Mackenzi Lee holds a BA in history and an MFA from Simmons College in writing for children and young adults. She loves Diet Coke, sweater weather, and Star Wars. On a perfect day, she can be found enjoying all three. She currently lives in Boston, where she works as a bookseller and almost never reanimates corpses. Almost.