2018 is the bicentennial of the publication of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. I love Frankenstein. It's one of my very favorite classics, and there was no way I could let the bicentennial slip by without a big to-do.
If you haven't read Frankenstein, read it now. Halloween time during the bicentennial is the perfect opportunity. And, after you read it (or if you already have) continue the celebration with a book inspired by Frankenstein or Mary Shelley's life.
The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White:
Kiersten White's brand new novel, puts one of the female side characters of Mary Shelley's book in the driver's seat. When I read Frankenstein I felt like Elizabeth had so much more potential, and I love what Ms. White did with her story in this novel. Perhaps the darkest of the bunch (and that's saying something), this book is completely creepy and really well done.
Mary's Monster by Lita Judge
This book is a beautifully illustrated verse novel about the life of Mary Shelley. I really enjoyed reading it. Every single page features a gorgeous illustration that helps tell Mary's story. It is so pretty. Lita Judge's novel is a compelling way to learn about the life of Mary Shelley.
This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel:
Kenneth Oppel's book is a prequel to the events of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, and it features a teenage Victor who, along with his cousin Elizabeth and best friend Henry, is on the search for the Elixir of Life. The stakes are high because Victor's twin, Konrad, is languishing with a mysterious illness. I really enjoyed the setting in Oppel's retelling. The Frankenstein home is pretty cool, and the Swizz Alps setting is a plus.
This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee:
This book is a steampunk retelling of Frankenstein. Alasdair Finch is a Shadow Boy, someone who makes and maintains illegal clockwork prosthesis. But Alasdair has gone much further. With clockwork and lightning he has resurrected his brother. I loved this retelling. One of my very favorite things about it is that Mary Shelley is a character in the story. The deeper themes of prejudice, what it means to be human, and fear of science are both nicely updated and true to the original story.
The Monsters We Deserve by Marcus Sedgwick
This novella was written as a tribute to the bicentennial of Frankenstein. It's the story of an unnamed author, who 200 years after the birth of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, goes on a writing retreat in the Swiss Alps. There he begins ruminating on Frankenstein and the things he admires and dislikes about the novel. And then things get weirder, and the reader wonders if the events are all in this man's mind. I really enjoyed this strange little story. I was so captivated by it that I read it in one sitting.
Strange Star by Emma Carroll:
Emma Carroll begins her story at the Villa Diodati where Mary Godwin and Percy Shelley are visiting Lord Byron who famously challenges them to each write a ghost story. Here Carroll diverges from history when a young girl knocks at the door looking for her younger sister. Her story just might be where Mary found her inspiration. I really liked how Ms. Carroll brings the real history into her story. This one is good for a slightly younger audience too, if you are looking for a book for the 10+ crew.
A Cold Legacy by Megan Shepherd:
This book is the final addition to The Madman's Daughter trilogy. In the first two books, Shepherd drew upon the stories of The Island of Dr. Moreau and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and I was curious to see how she would bring Frankenstein into the mix, seeing as it was published roughly 70 years early. The answer? Very well. In A Cold Legacy, Juliet learns that her guardian is the heir to Dr. Frankenstein, and her manor is the repository of all his research (and it works).
Clay by David Almond
Almond has a dreamlike quality to his writing that is well-suited to a
Frankenstein story. Davie is drawn to the new kid in town, Stephen, who
is kind of creepy. Stephen creates figures out of clay, and he brings
one of them to life, and it is monstrous. A truly creepy horror story
that also inspires readers to contemplate philosophical questions, much
like Mary Shelley's original.
The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter by Theodora Goss:
This novel is so much fun. Theodora Goss very expertly weaves together inspiration from several novels, including Frankenstein. Her characters include Mary Jekyll, Diana Hyde, Catherin Moreau, Beatrice Rappaccini, Justine Frankenstein, and Sherlock Holmes. The girls must band together to solve a mystery centered around the scientific organization to which their fathers belonged. I also love how this book is told, with little interjections from all the characters.
Hideous Love by Stephanie Hemphill
This book is another verse novel about Mary Shelley's life (without illustrations). It was written several years prior to Lita Judge's new book. Although the formats are quite similar, Hemphill is a bit more thorough in her reconstruction of Mary Shelley's life. It was actually very interesting to read two verse novels about Mary Shelley's life back to back. I felt like the two authors had a bit of a different take especially when it came to Percy Shelley.