This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee

22811807Published: September 22nd 2015 By: Katherine Tegen Books

Genres: Young-Adult, Steampunk, Historical, Science-Fiction, Retelling

Format: Hardcover Source: Won My Rating: 3.5 Stars

Find It: Goodreads || Amazon || Barnes & Noble

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 typing this review with a migraine, so please forgive any misspelled words, or anything else that seem out of place. I liked this book for it’s steampunk elements and at least one of the characters. I thought it would be more horrific than it was, but sadly that part fell flat. This is more Mary Godwin (Shelley) and the story (Frankenstein) that she thrust upon society in 1818. Although her appearance here isn’t heavy, the main character thinks of her a lot before she is outed for causing an uproar.

Long story short: Alisdair and Mary dig up Oliver (Alisdair’s brother), and bring him back to life using clockwork parts. Before this happened, Alisdair, Mary, and Oliver were as thick as thieves. Mary, with her love of stories, Alisdair and his dreams of working with his idol Dr. Geisler, and Oliver the fighter. But then Oliver dies, and Alisdair is swimming in guilt. He is committed to working with his father, but also keeping tabs on Oliver. He lied to Oliver about the night of his death. Then Mary sends Alisdair a book and he mistakenly leaves the book with Oliver. Everything gets crazy when his father is arrested for his illegal activities and he flees, with the help of Dr. Geisler’s assistant, Clemence.

I don’t want to say too much and spoil this. I wasn’t happy with Alisdair’s obliviousness. How could he not put two and two together? Then when he gets to Dr. Geisler’s house, everything changes. Geisler is not a man to have his work challenged or bested. Alisdair did what Geisler couldn’t; brought someone back from the dead. There were passages from the original Frankenstein that gave the story a creepy feel, but that’s about it. What I liked was the relationships of Mary, Alisdair, and Oliver before everything went to hell. I liked that this story is wrapped around how Mary wrote the book and portrayed the characters. Clemence added some restriction to the story with her sexuality. I imagine that it was very taboo back during those days.

I think that if you are a fan of steampunk and alternate history, then you will love this book. It’s not exactly playing on the whole Frankenstein’s Monster, but more Frankenstein himself and the woman who started it all. A quick read, that I am glad to have read. Recommended.


10 thoughts on “This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee

  1. I’ve heard mixed things about this. One of the bloggers I follow really loved it while another was less than impressed. Your rating is actually right in the middle of that so it really interesting to see a balanced point of view. Yeah, I’d probably be disappointed that there isn’t as much Frankenstein’s monster, but the character’s backgrounds sound cool.


    • I love the relationships between the main characters a lot, so that helped me enjoy it. I’m feeling better since I took my medicine after I got off work. I was down for the count for about 10 hours.


  2. Hm, I am glad I read this review and found out where the focus was more stressed. I do love the whole idea of Frakenstein and Mary Shelley although I have yet to read the actual book which is sitting in my TBR pile. I will do so soon! I have this one on my virtual TBR as well. I think I would still like it even if it is more so focused on the author than the monster. But it’s good to know that in advance!


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